Along with Dispatch, Here Be Dragons forces narrative VR storytelling in striking new directions


As virtual reality takes its journey through the hype cycle of technologies adoption, I keep returning to the first days of film as a corollary for that medium’s progress and a good standard for its evolution.

When these people first arrived on the scene, movies must have acquired the same thrilling and disorienting visible jolt that anyone who experiences virtuelle wirklichkeit now receives the moment they band on a headset.

And just like film developed from the first flickering frames of a horse’s gallop from The Horse In Motion, created by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878, so too can virtual reality evolve to encompass a lot more ambitious storytelling.

Dispatch, a lovely, harrowing 24-minute experiment in story storytelling created by the acclaimed facilities Here Be Dragons which utilizes virtual reality in novel ways, might be one of the most interesting steps on the path to VR’s own narrative language.

The short, which debuted on the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, is currently available through the Oculus store to both the Rift and the Gear.  The first 3 episodes are available now and the 4th and final installment will be launched at a later date.

Divided directly into four six-minute segments, Dispatch informs the story of a particularly long, especially terrible night for one police dispatcher in an anonymous American small city.

Instead of trying to mix the uncanny valley into naturalism within virtual reality, or falling back again on the tropes of gaming computer animation, Dispatch’s writer and director Ed Robles of Here Be Dragons made a decision to create a more impressionistic approach.

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The talent that Robles assembled headed up by Matn Starr, is impressive.

As Ted, Starr imbues the police dispatcher at the center of the story along with pathos and provides a point of place cultural reference that grounds the particular viewer.

The supporting tone of voice work from the rest of the cast including Julianna Guill,  Graham Shiels,  Beth Offer,  Samuel Stricklen,  Kelly Jenrette is furthermore impressive.

A former industrial director and storyteller, writer plus director Robles specializes in virtual reality creation. Robles has helped shape over the dozen VR projects, including “Clouds Over Sidra,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes,” “Ghost in the Shell,” plus “Muse: Revolt.”

Dispatch is the latest task from Here Be Dragons, the venture-backed virtual reality studio founded by Philip Milk and producer Patrick Milling-Smith, which usually recently raised $10 million within venture funding.

Robles first pitched the project at the end of November 2016 and the experience started pre-production in late January, after Oculus signed on as a financing companion, the director told me. From starting to end, the production took nine weeks, a timeline that Robles known as “aggressive.”

The speed of the function was in part thanks to the fact that the availability was made in Unity and has been entirely animated. From the beginning, Robles declared that he intended to rely on the viewers to fill in the visual spaces as the Dispatch narrative progressed.

For Robles, to experience what a law enforcement dispatcher undergoes nightly, it was crucial to remove many of the visual cues and then let the audience hear the experience.

“The minimalist reductive style comes down to a single thesis,” Robles said. “If you’re a dispatcher and you’re speaking to somebody you have no idea what they look like and the sound is filling in your world view.”

That concept was also paired with Roblesâ€? ideas that the more detailed a subject is, the greater readily an audience member will be identified as an “other”.

“The less you realize that person they become anybody,” Robles said.

Beyond Roblesâ€? choices from the directorsâ€? chair, the particular movement of actors like Starr and writers to take more of any in VR is also something that factors to the industry’s progress.

“The really good experiences I’ve seen this year that aren’t flashy and aren’t trying to bank on the flash-bang and the typical VR trappings of ‘Whoah you’re really there!’… that refinement is starting to happen,” Robles said.

Ultimately (and perhaps unsurprisingly) the Here End up being Dragons creative director takes cardiovascular in the progress the medium will be making.

“VR is growing at a rate that is surpassing expectations but it’s been doing so quietly,” said Robles.



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