Scott Fisher, University of Southern California: Immersive Media Changes How Movies are Made

10 August 2014

Immersive Media Changes Education

Immersive media requires a very different approach to media making.

For one thing the user gets to choose what they look at. In a way it’s a lot more like designing a theme park experience where you use lighting and sound and these ambient things to draw attention.

You want to draw them into different parts of the story that are unfolding over there or to be able to follow a character around. So in that sense it is a very different way of thinking about how you build the story.

There may be pieces of story that the audience just never even sees, because they never go over to that part of it or explore that part of the story space.

I think bottom line it is suggesting that we need a whole different ‘film language’.

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Immersive Media Changes Education

Immersive media requires a very different approach to media making.

For one thing the user gets to choose what they look at. In a way it’s a lot more like designing a theme park experience where you use lighting and sound and these ambient things to draw attention.

You want to draw them into different parts of the story that are unfolding over there or to be able to follow a character around. So in that sense it is a very different way of thinking about how you build the story.

There may be pieces of story that the audience just never even sees, because they never go over to that part of it or explore that part of the story space.

I think bottom line it is suggesting that we need a whole different ‘film language’.

Audiences know what edits are, what cuts are, what two shots are. They know how to respond to that stuff. I think now what we are starting to discover are other kinds of language like that to help us understand how we might encounter the story.

I think in general we have been thinking about immersive in a lot of different ways.

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The head mounted display enables the user to be completely inside the either a computer generated environment, or a live action camera generated environment, kind of a tele-presence thing, or some mix of those.

We are also seeing things like Google Glass and a lot of augmented reality, which I would say is an immersive medium as well. So those are tools in media that help our immersion in our physical everyday surroundings.

One of the big changes we have made in our curriculum is what we call ‘World Building’. So traditionally doing a live action or animated feature there is a writer developing the script, who hands off to producer/director – profoundly linear process.

What we are trying to do is build that into the curriculum in a way that we have classes where students come in from many divisions – writing, production, animation, interactive.

All working together to build out story worlds that then we go back into and think about the multiple narrative arcs that you can find through that story world.

Then think about which ones work on which platforms, such as mobile platform, a game console platform, an immersive platform. That’s a huge change.

We have been teaching production the same way for almost forty years, so this is pretty radical change to start thinking about story without the delivery medium in mind.

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