Statement Of The problem

Statement Of The Problem

The main problem is as follows: It is hard to tell mediated stories where the audience has or feels like they have a level of interactivity, and the medium (the storyteller) can not "read" the audience.

Many mediums allow for some level of immersion or interactivity. To use these mediums for storytelling puts one in a space where the delivery of the story should, in some way, be performative. The audience is not passively lying in chairs, eyes glued to a screen. They are active, moving, involved. Performers, entertainers, even [game] designers read their involvement in the process of telling stories. How do we tell stories without being able to "read" them? Is it even possible?

To phrase it differently, it's hard to tell a joke without an audience in the room.

Many mediums, including 360 video, involve an audience being active and reactive but do not allow for performative or adaptive stories to be delivered through them.

This is the problem at hand.

One solution is to develop ways to put performativity - adaptiveness - into these mediums. This necessitates an understanding of how the audience responds and reacts to certain situations, in order to be able to algorithmically 'read' them. The audience's reactions would be 'input'; then this goes through a magical black box labeled "algorithms", and output - the story is adjusted or adapted in some way.

In 360 video, perhaps we wait to have a character enter a room until the audience is looking at the door. Yet, will the audience ever look at the door? Why aren't they, and what are they waiting for?

Without understanding the audience experience, we will never be able to figure out just what to put into the metaphorical little black box labeled "algorithms".

This work does not say that this solution - performativity, or adaptiveness - in mediums is incorrect, but that one must understand where and how to utilize this sort of intervention. This work could be considered the groundwork for future efforts in that space.

In 360 video, even more problems are definable. A director does not traditionally need to worry the audience is facing the wrong way, or choosing to look away from the characters. How do we get the audience to look where the story takes place, how do we edit without knowing where the audience is looking, and how can we leverage 360 for something new and unique, not just fight or work around its issues?

In practice, this work aims to accomplish two major goals:

  1. Examine and explain the operating principles behind immersive storytelling. Storytelling where the audience has decisions to make, but these decisions do not affect the story being told, and the audience understands this. The audience also understands they are not being tested or performing during the story experience. In other words, the audience is immersed in the media but still identifies as an "audience" and not a "player".

This storytelling style can be achieved in a great many mediums and with a great many methods, but we will examine 360 video in depth.

One might say we are in the conceptual space between 'traditional' video games and 'traditional' storytelling. A lot of mediums fall into this space, including 'post game', 'nongames', narrative-driven games, and experimental game design; interactive fiction, hypertext, and hypercomics; VR experiences; immersive theater, expanded and experimental theater, theater of the oppressed; choose your own adventure novels, and role-playing games's.

Many 360 filmmakers are asking the same questions, doing the same tests, arriving at the same (or similar) conclusions, and otherwise unknowingly treading in footsteps of those before them. Without collecting knowledge of 360 filmmaking together, this will continue and slow the development of the medium greatly.

This brings us to the second major goal of this work:

  1. Serve as a guide for those interested in creating 360 videos. To answer questions regarding how to approach, think about, and analyze spherical video storytelling.

At the end of the day, this work is about understanding storytelling.