Eight thoughts on The Displaced, a VR project by the New York Times

Eight thoughts on the Displaced VR project by the New York Times. 1.It is important to remember that The Displaced was never intended to be a standalone film. It is part of a presentation that includes a multimedia component with photos, as well as five articles, including one on how to help. Having said that, even watching it without sound on a low-res Youtube version, The Displaced is obviously a strong piece of work. (I’m in a place with a poor internet connection and I have no suitable phone.) 2. Great quotes! From the Verge article by Adi Robertson: For the unfamiliar, 360-degree videos require what is essentially a tripod-mounted ball covered in cameras. Instead of pointing a camera at something to capture a scene, The Displaced's directors would set the ball out, start filming, and hide behind a bush or some other cover watching the action from afar. "You can't really see what you're shooting, so a lot of it feels very raw," said co-director Ben Solomon. The other co-director, Imraan Ismail, had a pithier analogy: "It's not like going out and hunting with a gun. It's more like laying traps." Adi Robertson: On one hand, virtual reality is treated like such a revolutionary shift that it can barely be compared to other media, a thing that will overturn all our assumptions about communication. On the other, it's supposed to be a complementary option like photography and video. In The Displaced, we might see the field where one of the children mentions she's picking cucumbers. But unless you read the written profile, you won't connect it to the long, punishing seasons of fruit, nut, and vegetable picking she describes, or the comparatively luxurious life her family left behind in Syria. The very thing that makes VR video realistic also limits the kind of information it can convey. 3. The crew did an excellent job of hiding themselves/coming up with ways to hide the rig. Even the the boy walking around and carrying the rig was not disruptive. 4. Great example of the cinematic power of 360 video: the boys playing near the fallen statue of Lenin. Another strong image; the same boys riding their bikes through their destroyed neighborhood. 5. Sound on camera; the 360 VR makes it difficult. Only at the end did we actually see and hear someone addressing the camera in a conscious manner. The man with the bullhorn shot is fantastic, but that doesn’t count! 6. Intimacy. We sensed the intimate relationship between the subjects and their environments, but human to human intimacy was minimal. Partly the producer’s/director’s choice, partly a limitation of the medium. Difficult to get something like this when you have a limited lens choice and must maintain a certain distance between camera and subject. 7. Couldn’t help but think of this. Empathy. Technology. 8. This is a positive and very promising move for VR storytelling, especially in regards to its relationship with the written word and photography.

2 thoughts on “Eight thoughts on The Displaced, a VR project by the New York Times”

  1. Pingback: …kind of the VR State of the Union, as of March 30, 2016 (part 1 of 2) | blacksteps

  2. Pingback: Cinematography 8.0: VR (best of blog posts, 2016)part 2 | blacksteps

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