World Surf League published this video on October 28, 2015, about a surfing experience in Tahiti. The story follows C.J. Hobgood, a World Surf League World Championship surfer, and his friends on their adventure in the water while they drive over to the site, take a boat out into the ocean, surf and snorkel. The video currently has 18,370,240 views on YouTube.
I liked this video because it was immersive and made me feel like I was included in it. Sometimes VR Stories face barriers with making the viewer feel like a part of it because we cannot interact with the subjects by talking to them, but this video did a good job of overcoming that. Right off the bat when you’re riding in the car on the way to the ocean, I felt like I was the shotgun rider on my way to a trip with my friends. There were other shots when we were on the boat where we are all sitting around the outside of the boat together, so I got to look around at all the people. Other shots where I felt included in the story where when the people were looking directly at the camera, so it looks like they are looking at me. It looks like they are taking pictures of you on the boat, acknowledging your presence and making you feel like a part of the group, which I thought was really cool.
The video used a narrative technique in a subtle way. It wasn’t narrated at all, but it started from the beginning of the trip with driving in the car on the way to the ocean. Then it showed the people walking out the pier with their surfboards, getting on the boat to take them out into the ocean, jumping into the water, and then finally surfing. The video was character, location, and experience driven because using CJ as the celebrity focus of the video gave it a cool twist, but you got an awesome experience in general from being right in a wave as it’s barreling or being underwater while people are swimming around. Being in Tahiti didn’t hurt either! It was a beautiful place with a lot to look at all around, and it was an awesome experience that most people will never get to see otherwise.
I also liked the use of audio in this video. There is music overlayed, but you can still hear the waves crashing all around you, the rush of water when the surfers first jump into the water, and people cheering when something cool happens. It was a good use of spatial audio because I was hearing things all around me, and it made me want to look around and see what was happening. I thought everything was smooth and cohesive, and while there was a lot to look at, it was never too much happening at once.
I thought this was a very appropriate story topic for a virtual reality 360 video because it provided viewers with an immersive, up-close experience that they likely would have never gotten to see without this video. They used all elements like characters, location, and experience to drive this video, and I thought it was very intriguing and fun. The whole video was upbeat and adventurous, so it played on people’s desire for excitement and fun. It was overall just a pleasant experience that made me smile while I was watching it. I found myself wanting to rewatch it again and again when it was over, so I think that shows what a success this video is.