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Brief Published: 4 Jun 2015

Google’s Immersive Mobile Video Short

Google's Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) has collaborated with UK visual effects studio the Mill to create Help, the latest in its Spotlight Stories series. Spotlight Stories are 360-degree story experiences developed specifically for consumption on mobile devices.

While previous instalments were animated – including work from Disney Animation giant Glen Keane – Help is the first live-action Spotlight Story. Justin Lin, director of the last four features in the Fast & Furious action movie franchise, was responsible for allowing the viewer to follow a group of protagonists running through the streets of Los Angeles to escape a reptilian monster.

Not designed for use on a virtual reality (VR) headset, Help instead places the user at the centre of the action with their mobile device in hand. While they watch the short film, moving their device around will reveal different frames of the action as it unfolds around them, allowing them to choose their own point of focus.

The result is a more selective bent on the fully immersive VR headset experience. "On the phone, I have more control," Lin says. "It allows the viewer to interact and frame their own story." Earlier Spotlight Stories have made further use of this interactive framing by showing parallel and alternative plots based on where the viewer's attention goes.

The Spotlight Stories app is currently available only on Android, but an iOS version is imminent.

For more on VR and mobile storytelling, see our coverage from Tribeca Film Festival 2015 and Sundance 2015: Key Trends.