VR Narrative Production process

Are storyboards necessary in VR Narrative Production?

The instinctive response is yes and it is how I have approached my project however…

Could it be that once the world is built and the characters are sketched out, one could discover narrative through play, immersed in that space? As a child, I would find objects, put them together to make puppets and then play out my stories within nature (or the back garden)…

Storyboarding, for me, has always been about working out if the narrative works and then efficiently producing a film, sequence by sequence, to time and budget. But working in unity, in real time production (There’s no 2007 3Ds Max render bender going on here thank you very much!), feels like I’m in the world I envision in my head and as I walk through I see new camera angles, think of new narrative and imagine new character and object interactions.

As I am interested in the space between animated narrative film and immersive gaming; my project deploys pinch points to control the camera position (the player). I place narrative (lines from a poem) at certain points within a Labyrinth, and want to include 3 cut scenes.

I am aware of balancing total immersion with breaking the 4th, and that this balance is fragile. I design the environment to control the players movement and consider whether they are active (have an objective and are interacting with the scene or whether they are passive (are watching a cut scene).

Immersive Theatre/VR Visitor Experience Walkthrough sketches.

In an attempt to add more fun and tension I initially added some random ‘boo’ jump scares in the upper Labyrinth. The player necessarily needs to encounter these points along the pathway. I realised
I needed to use them very carefully and not over do the technique.

I decided to that to really add tension, I needed to watch some scary films. As I did so, I storyboarded them so that I could analyse the cinematography and the use of sound and music. What I was looking for was to add tension to the narrative experience in the project but also help improve my pitch video.

Opening sequences of The Uninvited.