The Mythbusters have always had a boisterous and fun personality that’s captivated the viewers of Discovery Channel for years. Add 360 video to that, and you really feel like you’re actually there with them. This particular story was an experiment conducted by the hosts of Mythbusters, Adam and Jamie.
In this demonstration, Adam and Jamie used the power of a vacuum to crush a 55 gallon drum. Interestingly, the drum doesn’t “crush” when it is supposed to, and takes a bit longer than the hosts had originally planned.
As a fan of Mythbusters, I’ve always loved getting to watch the experiments conducted in the show. However, I felt like this specific example of VR kind of fell flat.
The positives: Adam does a really nice job of introducing the viewer to the experiment and showing them the surroundings of the hallway of the warehouse. He has a really great voice for narration, and it was fun to listen to him tell me what to do. He and Jamie also did a nice job of explaining what was happening in real time, as I clearly understood that the experiment that they were doing involved removing the pressure from a drum to make it collapse in on itself. They also added some nice music to the piece. When you’re waiting on the results of an experiment, it’s not the most exciting thing to watch. So by adding music in the background of listening to Adam and Jamie talking, it made the time pass a little quicker. They also did a nice job of jumping through time so we as the viewer weren’t having to just wait around while nothing visible was happening. They skipped through and showed brief moments of the pressure on the drum increasing, right up until it finally collapsed in on itself.
The negatives: One of the primary challenges people are facing when coming up with VR stories is figuring out whether or not it’s appropriate for 360 video. When watching this particular piece, I asked myself multiple times “This is a cool experiment, but why in the world is it being shown in 3D?” The drum doesn’t move, and aside from the drum itself there’s not really anything else to look at. The experiment wasn’t held in a particularly interesting part of the warehouse either, as the only thing around the camera was a wall of boxes and containers. Visually, it just wasn’t anything impressive. This was something that I thought could easily have been shown in a 2D video, and that’s something that you don’t want in a VR story. There just wasn’t enough to look at that made this story necessary to have been shot in VR.
Overall, while the experiment was certainly interesting, this wasn’t a very good use of VR. Had this been a larger experiment that required the viewer to look at various places to see it all, or had it even been held in a more interesting environment, this would be a lot more visually interesting. Without Adam and Jamie’s entertaining personality, this story would have completely fallen flat. Luckily, their interactions at least provided a little bit of entertainment. However, it wasn’t enough to save this VR story.