Director of “Madagascar” Talking about VR:It is not a Film

Crow : The legend miracle bird Crow

Crow : The legend miracle bird Crow

Crow : The legend miracle bird Crow

Eric Darnell

As the first and only film festival in Europe’s three major film festivals, the official opening of the official competition unit, the open Venice ushered in the second VR unit competition at the 75th International Film Festival in 2018. The problem is on the eve of the opening of the film. One of the 20-minute virtual reality works “Crow: The legend”, a legend from the North American native land, telling the origin of birds: Crow, the most beautiful bird in the forest, to save the world In the darkness of ice and snow, and struggling to let go of the story of the fire. Breaking through the four-dimensional wall, the story leads the audience into an imaginative, colorful world and the universe, and with the bird Crow and its partners, has experienced a legend of light and shadow.

Speaking of the film’s author Eric Darnell, you may not be familiar with it, but the audience of the Madagascar animation series must not be a minority. Yes, as a director and screenwriter, Eric Darnell, who produced all four episodes, is the father of Madagascar. In 2015, he chose to leave the powerful DreamWorks, and together with partner, game company Zynga former vice president Mareen Fan, and animation technology expert Larry Cutler, set up a company called Baobab studios to develop virtual reality works.

Eric recalled that in the early 1980s, when he first saw computer animation, he was deeply attracted and wanted to know more. This made him the next 30 years, working hard in the animation industry, creating the familiar Madagascar DreamWorks animation series. After 30 years, he began to be confused. He felt that he only repeated himself over and over again, and the desire to try new things became stronger than ever. He met the current partner Maureen Fan. When the other party put the virtual helmet on him, the magical feeling when he first saw the computer animation 30 years ago came back. It seemed to be sparkling and excited. This is the picture and experience he has never seen before. So he and his partner set up their own small company, specializing in making VR works. The team of twenty-four or five people can’t be compared with the previous powerful dream factory. The conditions are a lot harder. However, everyone gathers because they have the same passion for virtual reality. This innovative and energetic collaboration team must Focus on making the best content. Eric described the creation of VR as if he was diving into the sea, seeing the fish roam around, and the turtles crawling slowly.

In two short films Invasion! (Amy VR Awards 2017) and Asteroids! After the attempt of the 2018 Amy VR Works Award, this year, his third work was shortlisted for the Venice International Film Festival VR Competition. At the festival, Eric Darnell, a screenwriter and director, personally demonstrated our new work for us. The brilliant achievements created in the past 30 years have given him enough strength and connections. In just 20 minutes of VR (for a VR work, this is a very long space), it brings together a group of top American stars and singers. John Legend is an executive producer and gives a voice to Crow. The talk show queen Oprah is a character who dreams of creating a magical world. In addition, there are Tye Sheridan and Diego Luna (Star Wars rumor: Grand Theft Auto 1), Constance Wu (Wu Yumin, an American actor, one of the pioneers of the top 100 characters of Time Magazine in 2017) and other movie stars and native indigenous stars.

VR has become a hot phenomenon in recent years. From the enthusiasm of the film and television industry to the steady development of people, people are beginning to think more about its various possibilities and development directions in the future. As one of the founders of Baobab Studios, who is at the forefront of VR production in the world, after watching the film, Eric Darnell sat down and talked face to face with us, talking about virtual reality technology and thinking, and Prospects for future development.

What is VR Virtual Reality: There is an extraordinary immersive feeling, but it is not a movie

Question: In the process of engaging in VR creation, what is the biggest difference between it and the traditional animation? Where is the most difficult place?

This is a good question because the most different place is where it is most difficult. VR is a new thing we all have to learn. You know, our team has people from the game world, really understand the meaning of interaction, and we also have creators from the future movie world, they know how to create a world and The characters, and what it means to tell a story. But everyone realizes that their existing knowledge does not necessarily extend to VR. VR is not just a game, traditional film or three-dimensional production. VR is a different thing, it has its own medium and way. If it looks like a movie, it is because we don’t really understand this medium. You know that people talking about VR today is like talking about movies in the early days. At first they filmed theater performances, western cowboys, and other stage things that they already had. After a period of time, people began to realize that the film has a unique power. It is different from drama and other forms of performance. This is what we are looking for. What is the secret of VR, but I believe we have begun to discover It is the kind of immersive feeling that is different, that is, to let the audience realize that they exist in their world. And more importantly, you are very concerned about those roles in their world. They may feel happy, may be angry, afraid, or may want to eat you. But no matter what, you will have a sense of participation. You are in their world, and this is the biggest difference. I think if we succeed, bring the audience to the world of the story, we must focus on the narrative, instead of turning it into a mystery, sometimes you are playing games, sometimes entering a story. . Although it is in the game, you really feel that you are in this world, and there are some things around you that are unfolding, and you are part of it. If we can establish this kind of feeling-like connection between the character and the audience, then we can improve the audience’s choice. This is like the behavioral science analyzed by a neuroendocrinologist at Stanford University. We can use a lot of things for non-verbal communication, which happens under the radar of consciousness.

When we can understand the audience and know what they do with their hands, they can design the characters like this. They can go here or there in different places, or wave their hands, they are back. It all seems to happen in real life. The experience we created makes me convinced that the audience can be pushed deeper into the story, and it is truly true. This is no longer a simple game, or something that doesn’t happen, but a world they feel they can participate in.

VR development: now is not the time to write a declaration, but the time of exploration

Question: Up to now, almost all of the VRs I have seen have created a magical and imaginative visual world. Does this mean that certain themes or specific atmospheres are more suitable for VR?

I don’t think so. I mean, I won’t say no to anything, because I don’t think it’s time to say no. If I say that I am not lying, because I don’t know at all. Everything that people are experimenting with now, as long as it is trying to tell a story hidden by a viewer, is effective. It’s great to get a gaming experience in VR, you know, you will become interested. So now is not the time to write a declaration, but the time to explore. It’s a bit like you just boarded a new continent, and then said, we found it now and we are going home. In fact, we need to know everything here, what we need to do is on the coast, ready to enter this land for a long journey of exploration to see what it is. Because VR is not about making movies, and it is not anything other than VR.

Question: The next question may be a controversial point. I once talked about VR with a friend who has a dual background in science and film. He thinks VR is not really new. As a four-dimensional image that already exists, it is only projected to us through high technology. In your opinion, VR is really a new thing, is it an image revolution?

Well, it depends on your new definition. You know that VR has been around for decades. Yes, it was mainly used in well-funded government departments, computer labs, or powerful universities. I remember Larry Culter as a CTO and received a master’s degree from Stanford University in the mid-1990s. The paper he made was about VR, and they also had computers worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. At that time, he knew that VR could not develop immediately, so he chose to provide software design for film shooting at DreamWorks after graduation. I mean, if you look back on the history of film development with the same vision, before the people went to the cinema in 1910, there were already very good movies. Therefore, VR has existed for a long time, but the difference is that it is now possible to become a medium, and many people participate in it as a part.

The Future of VR Virtual Reality: People who really change everything, maybe those who grew up with VR

Question: Indeed, today’s VR has developed greatly, but its major limitation is that it can only be watched by one person at a time. Under such circumstances, how to find the profit model of VR? Be aware that VR is a costly production.

Regarding technology, I think that only one person can watch VR today is not completely accurate. I can’t say that VR is a perfect experience. Because although VR has emerged, and the technology has developed, you can certainly be isolated from the outside world by wearing headphones. It doesn’t go to the cinema like dozens of people. Everyone is sitting in a chair and watching the same experience, and VR viewers can’t see each other and can’t share laughter. I still remember that my college film teachers also thought that putting a group of people in the same place in the dark is very powerful. When people get together, there will be a chemical reaction. But I don’t use film thinking to make comparisons. I just said that we can think about it differently. This is a great experience. Once you wear virtual glasses, you seem to be the animal in the film. You look down at yourself and look at your friends. They also become animals. You ran across the prairie together. When you get to other animals, sometimes you fight against a group of monkeys, then become a bird together, and you can talk to each other. However, when your animal changes, your voice will change, but you can understand it, because these words are from the mouth of your friend, but he is now a gorilla. This is really fun and makes you very happy. You can play with friends in the same room, or you can play with another person on the other side of the world in one corner of the world. This is the direction I think VR will develop in the future, not the current situation. We need to accompany VR progress together and experience together. When this technology is powerful enough, we can capture us in this world, know what we are doing, and see other friends who have experienced with us in the same world, and have an impact on the world around us. I believe that such a scene will come one day. Think of the 18th century, people can only raise a hand in the market, shaking a huge box, in order to see the things inside, and can only be seen by one person, this is the only way to observe at that time. They know that the technology at this stage is still limited, but the imagination of the year is realized. By the same token, we can also bring VR to show people its power, people will be very excited about it, and someone will know how to do better in the future. Maybe the people who really change everything are those who grow up with VR. I may face something that can never be surpassed. You know that when you are old, you may not have enough vision to break this boundary, but I believe All this will come.

Question: Do you really think that this will happen, will VR be more exciting than traditional movies?

Yes, but it is totally different from the movie.

Question: You said that VR is not a movie, but now the work can only be shown at the festival. Maybe one day there will be a special VR film festival?

I remember an artist Yves Klein. If you put one of his works together with Lun Brown, you know, many people will say that this is a painting, it is a shit. Another person might say, um, they are all on the canvas, so they are all paintings, right? But their works are different. I am not saying that they must be different art forms, but they think and appreciate painting in a completely different way. So, we are still making video works including 3D, but it is still possible to bring something very different. Some people want to wear a VR helmet after going home from work and then run around in the house. Some people just want to sit down and watch TV or movies. Because they are not the same experience, I think VR will have its own position, and it may not only be limited to virtual reality VR, but also augmented reality AR and other types of things, so that you can immerse them, those I even I can’t imagine anything.

Now for me, I like to explore this unknown world, even if I don’t know where to go, I will tell the story first. This is the foundation, and then we can fly and explore the possibilities freely. It’s a bit like an Antarctic expedition. Those people know that they tied each other with ropes and then rushed into the blizzard to complete some missions. But they are always tied to what they already know, so that they can always return no matter what they encounter.

So I feel that creating this immersive experience, if you have a great story, shaping people’s favorite characters, everyone will be happy, but this is all media needs, whether it is film production, literary creation or stage play. There must be a good story script, and VR is one of them. Sometimes movies are based on drama, sometimes they are even dramatic films, in short, movies, plays, books, etc., and these media may overlap with VR. For me this is not a game, see who will win this battle? It just tries to honestly tell a story and entertain the public. Frankly speaking, we are just a small company, but we have raised the funds we want, and we hope to help the industry find an audience in a limited time. There may be a lot of exciting works coming out, and more people will talk about VR. I still remember when I decided to become a director, my mother gave me a book, I forgot the author’s name, but the title of this book is roughly: enter your studio, keep creating, this is everything you need to do. . To become an artist, you must create art. So what we have to do is not to prove that VR is better than movies, but to create art in the best way.

Yes, it would be good for everyone if we could encourage others to participate in VR and make better content. What is more important to us now is that every piece of work that is launched can have some impact, and we believe that everyone can see its value. We will use a very complex experience to design high-end virtual glasses, and then launch some less powerful glasses. This may not be the same quality experience, but you can also say that although not so good, it gives people who don’t have expensive machines the opportunity to experience new things. And for the same content, we’ll put the simplified 2D version on youtube, so you can check out our previous work “invasion! Invasion and Asteroids! 》. Although this experience is not good, not the way I want people to see it, I still prefer to let everyone see it, not without the opportunity to see it.

The risk of VR virtual reality: physical discomfort is mostly a matter of design details, and the mental danger is not what I should solve.

Question: As literally as virtual reality, the world created by VR is false, while the immersion and realistic attributes make people feel very real. Sometimes when you watch it, this immersion can make your brain uncomfortable and even dizzy. A movie can last for hours, and for VR, the virtual and realistic confrontation it brings may cause chaos in the brain, so it is dangerous to some extent. There are time limits, how do you think about this?

Ok, I think in nine out of ten cases, people feel that physical discomfort is a design problem. The same thing can happen in 3D movies that are transformed from 2D, because making 3D movies is an art, not just Add an extra camera and cut out some of the content as usual. Your eyes have to do extra work, it has to focus on the screen, but if there is something further, it needs to go beyond the screen, or switch to a close-up facing the screen in front of the face, but in any case, the picture itself It is on the screen. Your eyes must redouble their efforts to do things that you don’t need to do in normal life. This is an unnatural visual manifestation that can have a physical impact on your muscles, which is what causes tension, discomfort, and headaches. But if someone knows what they are doing, their picture starts from one place, and then comes back here, you may not feel the change in the physical space, because you have enough other feelings to think that the object does not move. For this, your eye muscles can tolerate it in a better way.

So many people went to the theater to watch the first 3D movie in my life. After I came out, I felt a headache, so I said that I would never go to see a 3D movie anymore, because it was too uncomfortable. Well, if you accept the same principle, then VR can have such potential. If the VR design allows the audience to accelerate in it, meaning that they bring your sight to a high-speed state like a car, but you are actually just a corner of the room. Then your eyes tell you that something happened and they sent the information to your brain. And your heart is saying, no, I am just sitting here. Then your brain becomes confused. So VR can’t do this, never speed up the camera. When you fly in space, it is a constant speed on a straight line with no acceleration. People in the studio even suggested that we should design the audience to choose the direction, but this is not the case. When you are on the track, if you do this, some people are looking down, but you can’t see anything under your feet, which can be uncomfortable. But many of these discomforts are just technical issues, and they are details.

It is also hard to imagine that people wear VR glasses and feel that, wow, this is true. I mean, if you look down through your nose, you can still see the real ground, but when you decide to enter this virtual world, you may feel real, even better than reality, just like some people like movies. In reality, some people like video games more than reality. If people are addicted to it and escape from reality, this becomes a problem that is linked to the real world. But this can happen in anything, such as food can also become the poison of your choice. So solving these problems is not my job. My job is to try to find some experiences that I think are valuable and let people get an achievable experience. This experience can cover many different backgrounds, not only for children, but also for attracting Adults and parents, teenagers and grandparents.

This is what I want to do all my life. One of the great potentials for VR is that if you create these scenarios, even if the audience never believes that it is real, you can immerse yourself in it, connect with these characters in this virtual world, and act as Part of the story, even from the heart, was moved by compassion. Even if you know that everything is fake, because you care, are emotionally driven or willing to do it, and all these risks are low, because this is not reality, just virtual. It gives people the possibility to train, and once they encounter a similar situation in the real world, they can react, even if the proportion of such people is small. This is my secret goal for the future.

Source: Sina Entertainment



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