Chair: Dr Sohail Dahdal

Room: G27, O’Rahilly Building (ORB), UCC

Laura Aguiar (University College Cork)

ABSTRACT: Linear or Interactive?
Thoughts on Formats, Platforms and Technology Obfuscation

We Were There: The Women of the Maze and Long Kesh Prison (http://prisonsmemoryarchive.com/films-publications/) was conceptualised as an interactive museum exhibition but the outcome was a one-hour linear documentary for community and festival screenings. John Maynard Keynes: The Lives of a Mind (http://jmaynardkeynes.ucc.ie/) was initially thought as a broadcast documentary, but the end result was an interactive E-book. What happened along the way that led to these changes?

This presentation uses these two case studies as a starting point to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of linear and interactive storytelling. By showing how I started in the wrong place in these two projects – i.e. I was initially more focused on the medium than on the aim of the projects – I explore the importance of keeping sight of the project’s aim and preventing technology from obfuscating the story.

I then share some selected multimedia and interactive projects from around the world to demonstrate: (1) new and exciting methods in which stories are being created, distributed and experienced online and offline; (2) the (cheap or cost-free) tools and platforms available online for those interested in producing their own interactive experience; and (3) how projects are using technology to enhance the storytelling experience, not to dictate it.

My projects and the projects reviewed in this presentation will show that at the same time that digital and interactive technology have made storytelling more accessible and  affordable, it has also triggered substantial aesthetic, ethical and methodological questions about representation, relationships and technology that must be addressed by any storyteller.

Yuanyuan Chen (Ulster)

ABSTRACT: Being-in-the-film
When VR Becomes a New Narrative Medium

Virtual Reality is defined as an “interactive, immersive experience generated by a computer” (Pimentel and Teixeira, 1993, 11). With the rapid development of computer technology, VR has been revolutionizing many fields, from gaming and film to architecture and marketing. It offers the audience an exceptional experience of fully immersing into and interacting with a simulated environment as if it is real. Sherman and Craig have defined four key elements of VR experience: virtual world, immersion, sensory feedback, and interactivity (2002, 6). It means that putting on a VR headset a filmgoer will transfer from recipient to participant, able to physically walk into the virtual world and interact with the surroundings.

This paper will investigate VR as a new narrative medium challenging and reconstructing the traditional cinematic storytelling. The analysis will be supplemented by two case studies, a VR animated documentary Portrait of the Artist and a VR animated short PTSD made by the students I supervised, and will mainly focus on the following three questions. Firstly, thanks to VR technology, the audience is able to enter and actively look around the simulated world. Does it fundamentally change the narrative mode from selling story to offering experience, and accordingly, potentially weaken the depth of story? Secondly, the immersive experience requires building up a 360° three-dimensional simulated space; in other words, scenes and settings become more predominant than other narrative elements. Can it be viewed as a return of the early film that was characterised by stage and showground, and the narrative that was mainly developed by the connected scenes? Thirdly, the interactivity of VR highlights the self-consciousness, enabling the audience to play a role in the film and participate in the development of the story, which presents a characteristic of game, so where is the boundary between game and film?

Works Cited:

Pimentel, Ken, and Kevin Teixeira, Virtual Reality: Through the New Looking Glass. New York: Intel/Windcrest McGraw Hill, 1993.

Sherman, William R., and Craig, Alan B., Understanding Virtual Reality: Interface, Application, and Design. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2003.

Georgina Brown (Southampton)

ABSTRACT: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
A Videogame for Cinephiles?

In 2011, globally acclaimed Japanese animators Studio Ghibli collaborated with Level-5 games to create Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This videogame incorporates Hayao Miyazaki’s distinct cinematic visual aesthetics and narrative style, despite the auteur’s lack of involvement with the project. This paper will explore the idea that this videogame targets fans of an alternative media platform, and argues that Ni No Kuni is a game made for film fans rather than videogame enthusiasts. In no way will I be attempting to suggest that videogame enthusiasts who are not fans of, or who are unfamiliar with the cinema of Studio Ghibli will be unable to gain pleasure for this product, and nor will I be insinuating that one cannot be both a cinephile and a gamer. But what I will be attempting to explore is the idea that Ni No Kuni was designed with the fans of Studio Ghibli in mind, and that in many ways these fans will gain more pleasure from the game because of Level-5’s collaboration with the animation studio. Lengthy, animated cinematic cut-scenes in Miyazaki’s signature style have been incorporated for players to enjoy passively as one might view a film, and references to the filmmaker’s cinema have been incorporated for the added satisfaction of players who are able to identify these links with their ancestral cinema. The aim of this paper is to investigate how Studio Ghibli’s cinematic characteristics have been ported to an alternative, interactive media platform, as well as assessing why a globally acclaimed studio would make this progression, and whether this could continue in the future. But most importantly, it will argue that this is a ‘cinematic-videogame’, built to attract and satisfy film fans.