Transitioning Curiosity

Transitioning curiosity is taking advantage of how audience's questions lead to more questions naturally. We tend to follow things up and try to "flesh out" answers. "What is over there?" naturally leads to "Why is it over there?" and "Who put it there?", for example. These are very short mental hurdles for the mind to make.

If one imagines a ven diagram of connected questions, transitioning curiosity is the process of jumping between unconnected circles through other curious elements.

Consider a scene - in 360 or otherwise - where a character discovers a murdered body.

Start with "Why did that character suddenly gasp?" Leads to "What did they see?" leads to - "Is that a body?" - "Is it alive?" - "How did it die?" - "Was it murdered?" - "Who murdered them and why?"

We transitioned the audience from responding to human emotions - a natural and effective thing to do, we got them to turn around and take their own action (ask their own question, 'what did they see?' to find their own answer, the body, and discover for themselves this body, react to it, and naturally - thanks to the presentation of the body as apparently murdered - drive the audience to wonder whodunnit. As we are (hopefully) telling a whodunnit mystery, this is exactly what we want.

We created engagement by transitioning curiosity from the reaction to the dynamic narrative question. This would be less effective than if our detective had a voice over, wondering "I wonder who killed this?"

We can create engagement by letting the audience's actions - turning to see something, in this case, get the audience to wonder about the appropriate story elements. This is achieved by taking the motivating action, whatever curious thing that initiated the audience to turn their head, and making sure that is the element that leads the audience to the appropriate question.

If the audience hears's the sound of a door opening and looks over, and discovers a dead body, they are not going to stop being curious about the sound of the door! The curiosity did not transition naturally.

Let's say a character throws another character's phone into a swamp, and we are looking for the phone with the first character. Searching the frame for them. Suddenly, a monster pops out and scares us and the character. Well, good job empathizing us with the character - audience and character were both surprised together but the phone is a Chekov's gun. The audience invested action - looking around a frame - for the phone, and it did not pay off.

If the audience knew there was a threat, a risk, to look for the phone, we could get away with this narratively, as the curiosity isn't "Where is the phone?" but "Will they find it in time?". Some well-chosen music or sound design could help make this suspense the driving force.

Later, A character better remember that phone and perhaps risk their lives to get this lifeline. Otherwise, the curiosity that the audience put energy and investment into never paid off.

The Audience Starts Curious

The audience begins ready to examine the world by taking action.

Most audiences begin 360 videos by looking around to see where they are.

Let's be sure to use our first shot as a way to setup not just the dynamic question of the narrative, but set the "genre" and cue the audience into what sorts of things they may need to be paying attention to. What's more important, body language or things the characters carry? Do characters lie or do we trust them? Is anybody hiding something? Why is that body dead and bloody in an alleyway?

When an audience begins a 360 film, they don't sit back and wait for the story to establish itself. Unlike beginning with [just] a close-up or [just a] voice-over/flashback, 360 video has the audience starting in an environment, one which they can't see all of.

Make your first environment count. Let it draw the audience in. This is more than just the establishing shot in function, but it set's the stage for what the audience is curious about.

The audience begins curious. They begin curious - looking around - because they want to know where they are, and their only course of action is to find out.

Instead of just starting the story in some room and cutting around, start the story with what the audience should be curious about. Since they are already in a position to begin mentally vacuuming up information as they try to figure out what this story will be, they are very amenable to be told what this story may be about.

The main character should [probably] be the first character that the audience see's. Or, in a murder-mystery, the dead body. The audience starts curious thanks to the medium of 360 video [and, you know, storytelling], what they first take in will set the framework for engagement. Say we have a sci-fi intrigue drama. Are they going to be wondering how this space ship is put together or who the saboteur is?

In other words, instead of trying to create curiosity by breaking a pattern, we already have some level of ambient and environmental curiosity that we can transition into narrative curiosity.