VR Story Review- “I Struggle Where You Vacation”

On May 16, 2016, RYOT published the short film “I Struggle Where You Vacation,” a VR film set in Puerto Rico that focuses on the island’s worsening financial crisis as American legislators remain inert, jeopardizing the wellbeing of Puerto Rico’s American citizens.
Directed by Angel Manuel Soto and produced by Zahra Rasool and Marc Janks, this socially conscious film perfectly follows the socially driven philosophy of RYOT.  RYOT states in its manifesto that it is a “citizen, not an enterprise” and that the company does not “pretend to hide behind neutrality, [they] care about what happens to the world;” this mandate to evoke change through empathetic storytelling can be felt through even the title of the film, “I Struggle Where You Vacation”.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s address to Puerto Rico on May 1, 2016.
Before the story even begins, it is successful at evoking an emotional response, telling us that the people in places where we vacation to go through genuine struggles and hardships- humanitarian, economic, legislative, and environmental hardships- and especially the places located in developing countries. Although this story focuses on Puerto Rico, the message in the could easily have been set in almost any part of Latin America, Africa, parts of Asia, or even the struggles of native Hawaiians. Thus, from the title the audience may experience guilt (and perhaps indignation and anger in regards to said guilt, as demonstrated by most critics of the short film), sympathy, shock, and hopefully empathy.
The story begins with a broadcast of Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s address to Puerto Rico on May 1, 2016 about the island $70 billion dollar debt. In this VR story, we see his address through a television screen, and thus, we are made to feel as the people of Puerto Rico as they watch their governor “foresee that the crisis will [worsen].” The following scenes alternate between the lush beauty of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rican culture, as well as pictures of the island’s worsening conditions. In one scene in the first minute of video, executive director of ENLACE Caño Martín Peña, Lyvia Rodríguez, talks to the audience as we are immersed in the area of the Martín Peña channel: one second we are on the shores of the lake, the next second we are on dry land. As Rodríguez tells us, the river is an important part of environmental health of the island and a crucial resource for citizens.
Flooded classroom in Ramon Vila Mayo High School.
When asked how the Washington response to Puerto Rico makes him feel, community leader of the Caño Martín PeñaJosé Pagán, responds “Like a second class citizen. The message you get from Congress is F*** Puerto Rico. […] And it’s real sad to hear that from supposedly the biggest democratic country in the world.” We see his response juxtaposed with festive Puerto Rican music (mostly of the Bomba and Plena genres).
Puerto Ricans march: “If you keep abusing, you’re gonna get a strike!”
Similar scenes and similar speakers follow throughout the film to great: through the 360 mechanism, the audience is immersed not only in pictures of crises, such as flooded schools, and lavish scenes of the culture and environment, but also to images of marching Puerto Ricans celebrating and protesting the struggle. At the end of the film, Representative of the Popular Democratic Party, Manuel Natal, reflects upon how Puerto Ricans, specifically working class Puerto Ricans have contributed to the debt. “I’m not one to say that all of our problems are created by our relationship with the US, but I’m one to affirm that most of the solutions, if not all, are limited by our current relations.” And thus, the video ends, and we are left on a mountaintop beneath the Puerto Rican Flag.
Puerto Rican flag over the mountains.

Strength in Numbers: 2017 NBA Finals Chapter 2 Review

Strength in Numbers: 2017 NBA Finals Chapter 2

Watch the trailer here:

Strength in Numbers – The 2017 NBA Finals

This VR Story allowed its viewers to experience game footage, post game coverage, and player interviews all in virtual reality. This 360 video was published by the NBA and Oculus, and was produced by M SS NG P ECES. This video is intended to be watched on a VR headset, as I was unable to find it available in any other medium. This was a  successful use of virtual reality, and this is because the camera was placed where no fan could go before. Examples include shots from behind the backboard, the players locker rooms, press boxes, and even inside LeBron James’ private limo he takes to the games that are played in Cleveland. This video used a few storytelling techniques, the first being a omniscient narrator, who walks us through every step of the storytelling process, then the NBA and M SS NG P ECES did a wonderful job of camera placement, and camera movement, as every camera movement and angle was well thought out and executed properly.

Screenshot taken from http://mssngpeces.com/projects/virtual-reality/strength-in-numbers-the-2017-nba-finals/.

Overall, this VR story takes us through the 2017 NBA finals. Specifically, chapter two covers game three and game four of the NBA Finals, along with the warm-up and press conferences before and after each game. We are given the opportunity to experience these games from remarkable angles, and even sit in one one-on-one interview with NBA players Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry. This story used a story narrative structure with some minor adjustments. I am specifically reviewing Chapter Two of this four part mini series, this means that the beginning and the end were both left open, knowing that in the NBA finals there is more to come. This added to the astatic of the VR story as it makes the viewer want to learn more, a perfect ending for a mini series with more to come. The characters of this story were the participants in the 2017 NBA finals and the players of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. These characters drove the story solely because they are the biggest names in the NBA, and naturally emotion is directly ties to sports. This 360 video was full of emotion because even if the viewer is not invested into these two teams, there are reaction shots everywhere and the crowds reactions are powerful enough to drive emotion. This video is location driven as we were able to view outside shots of both cities (Cleveland & Oakland). This video is also experience driven as attending an NBA finals is not something that most are able to experience in their lifetime, and finally it was also character driven as the characters presented  are some of the biggest sports names in the entire world.

Image taken from http://mssngpeces.com/projects/virtual-reality/strength-in-numbers-the-2017-nba-finals/

THE VERDICT 9/10

This video was appropriate for VR because it puts the viewer in places that are either very expensive to get into, or it took its viewers into locker rooms and behind the scenes areas that are generally off-limits to both fans, and media. The video flowed very smoothly and the conflict of the two teams battling to become world champions added to the overall success of this VR NBA Finals story. The only weakness of the story that I had come across was the camera angles were always at eve level with the NBA players. This was a slight weakness in my eyes because instead of looking at LeBron James like the giant he is, we looked at his from eye level and it did not do his 6’8” 250 pound frame any justice. If the camera would have been placed at an average 6” we still would have seen everything we needed to and the viewers would have gotten a better sense of how big these NBA players truly are. Overall, for NBA fans, this is an amazing experience and one that should be viewed by all who consider being fans of either of these two teams, or even fans of the NBA as a whole.

VR Review- NY Times Colorado Autumn Colors 360 video

Here in is this short film video story, https://nyti.ms/2yQKPPl , “Fly Over Colorado’s Autumn Colors in 360” We see a over looked video of White River National Forest, Colorado. This video was crated by a team that included Will Strathmann working the video, edited by Joshua Thomas, and Produced by Nathan Griffiths. Also Samantha Quick was mentioned, but not listed in what specific role was played. This video was published by The New York Times. There were no specific viewings of this video on NY Times The Daily 360 website.

This Video story, includes a fly over video that flies right over the hillsides of aspen trees that grow for acres and acres throughout this area. This is where the narration begins. Lisa Stoeffler, Deputy Forest supervisor, U.S. Department of agriculture, is the interviewed narrator of this piece. She first describes the changing of the leaves and how they change, as she states, “in one massive clump”, due to the aspens growing from identical genetics. Lisa  is then seen for the first time in a valley by a river in the mountains known as “The Maroon Bells”. Lisa will continue to narrate on and off the camera with short pauses of word narration on screen in different views of both the river area and within the forest of aspens, with light music in the background. A shot transition to a bus of people coming to the Maroon Bells, begins another narration from Lisa where she states, “More than 300,000 people visit the Maroon Bells every year”. The final shot is The Maroon Bells which many photographers on the edge of a pond trying to catch photos of this spectacular place. Lisa, out of shot, commentates with the ending comment of , “This is one of the most photographed places in the state of Colorado, and you can see why”.  The narration structure wasn’t chronological, it was an interview from someone that knew about the location and was able to share some insights while viewing the video story.

This story is location driven. The location drives this story because it’s a specific area which is the main purpose of the viewers being interested in wanting to watch to get the “Fly Over” look of the autumn colors in Colorado. Even though there is narration on what lies in the White River National Park, Colorado you’re not moved to view things on screen because of it.

The weaknesses I found in this video story was time of the video, camera angles, and timing of the frames. It was definitely a video I wish was longer because this is a place I would actually want to travel too. The area’s were either repetitive of just no areas I believed were the best shots. The clips of the scenery where you had words on the screen to read were the only extended views the viewer of this video story was able to really see. I would’ve wanted the scenes of narration where I wasn’t focuses visually on anything to be longer so that the effect of being in that moment would’ve been better. If i wanted to see what was behind me at all I would have to start the video over and watch it from that side because I didn’t have the time to turn around before it would change.

A review of the De Bijenkorf 360 Fashion Show

by Tabitha Olatoyan

The Virtual Reality 360 story review I did was on a fashion show called Freedom of Fashion, which was published and produced by de Bijenkorf in Nortre Dame. They are a fairly large fashion company who began using virtual reality 360 as a way to include their intended audience to want to buy more of their products.

https://www.debijenkorf.nl/

The story telling and virtual reality techniques they used were to make the viewers feel as though they were also part of the audience, spectating the fashion show. Another technique which I really liked, was that they made the viewer feel as though they were also one of the models walking in the fashion show.

The story was simply to just give people an understanding and look at what their fashion company is all about. Viewers are able to see the kind of fabrics, clothing designs, and shoes that they sell.

The story did absolutely use a narrative structure by showing the beginning of the fashion show (even before it began), by having a reporter introduce what the audience will be seeing. It then goes into the middle where you see the fashion show in progress, watching the audience’s interaction and reactions. Finally it shows the end, one is able to tell it is the end of the fashion show because the video captures the audience applauding.

The characters in the story would be the audience watching the fashion show. They did drive the story in a way because as the viewer, one can see their reactions to the clothing that was being showcased. Seeing those reactions and interactions from the audience inflicted an emotion that caused the viewer to also want to be excited about what was being shown. So because of that, It was definitely character driven.

The location was also very driven because it was the viewer want to be in the beautiful where the fashion show was being held. The experience was well driven because the producer put the camera at appropriate positions, which allowed the narrative to be very well put together.

The story was, in my opinion, appropriate for virtual reality because it allowed the viewer to be immersed in the fashion show, to experience what it is like being and seeing a real life fashion show, as well as wanting to know more about the company’s clothing and want to also purchase it. The story was strong and effective.

VR Story Review Eagles Defensive Line 360 Video

I decided to pick a story review on the Philadelphia Eagles defensive linemen. This was produced by the NFL using 360 video on some recent games the players had played during the 2016 NFL season. The video was posted on November 24th 2016, the videos of highlights from games were games before that date that were used for this 360 video. After watching the video I was very happy with the types of shots they were showing, involving in game action of the defensive linemen, the background of that they do outside of football and their workouts during the week to prepare for the next game on Sunday. The audience they are showing are hard core true football fans that wonder what players talk about during games, what their strategy is to prepare for the next play or game if the video is showing a current game or practice. The only thing I was not impressed with or kind of got annoying was how quick they were to show the next scene and how they just jumped right into the next slide without a going to black screen. I would say that would be the one thing I would suggest to improve if they were to make another type of video like this.

After they introduced the defensive linemen for the Eagles, they jumped into a game against the Redskins and showed a video of one of the players rushing Kirk Cousins and he talked about if you aren’t pumped up enough for this game then you need to find something else or get ready to play. The proposed of this video was to show fans the lifestyle of being a NFL football player and see how their weeks are stretchered. We see what practices look like on certain days of the week like Wednesday’s and Thursday’s from the video we saw, for them to be better prepare for their next game on Sunday. We see what days like Monday and Tuesday are more for weight rooms’ days for the players to get a good workout in before they start practicing on the field starting Wednesday. After practice, some of the players will go to a charity event or go to a community event and help out the community by giving out food, play with the kids for them to get exercise. From what I see from this video and hope others have also notice this, but we see the type of personalities and loyalty of these players on helping the community, how much they love the city they play for and just what they think about practice on to improve their skill sets and become a much better player on and off the field.

 

They used a lot of emotion from players’ frustration, happiness or aggressiveness during games, practice or working out to improve their body. If they didn’t show emotions from the players, I think that could be a big factor of this video being from great to ok if they didn’t show emotion. I believe they did a great job on this video of showing the players, introducing the players we should be watching, what the players go through during the week before their game on Sunday and how loyal they are to their city by helping a cause with their community.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH52zn8d1gI