What do you get when you combine the 360-degree experience with the process of stop motion animation? An incredible insight into one of the most anticipated movies of the year: Isle of Dogs.
This promotional featurette was published by FoxSearchlight, the production studio’s YouTube account for Isle of Dogs. In the 5-and-a-half-minute video with we’re instantly transported to the setting for the movie. Looking in one direction, we see a dog voiced by a famous actor from the actor’s point of view, using the animated dog as a vehicle to talk about their character and its relationship to the movie. As you look around the room, you notice you’re not actually in “Trash Island,” the setting for the movie, but the studio where they create this dirty dog world. As the dog is speaking, the animators are seen on a monitor moving the puppet at hyper-speed to match the movement of the dog.
The video begins with Bryan Cranston’s character, Chief. There is a subtitle with Cranston’s name with his character’s name below in smaller print, signaling to the viewer that this is the actor talking and not the character. He explains why his character is stationed on his island and general character traits. This goes on for several other actors in different settings for the movie including Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Scarlett Johansson. This video is less of a narrative structure, and more of a behind the scenes documentary with a twist: Using the actors describe their character, as they’re in their characters body. We see them truly embody their characters, speaking emotionally about them as if they’re real people (dogs), while being thoughtful and sympathetic to the relationship they have to the story.
The premise for this featurette is great. Not only do we see a glimpse of the animation of the dogs and the beautifully built setting, but we see behind the scenes of Trash Island and the people that are creating these creatures on the fly. We hear familiar voices playing new roles, and unfamiliar animators moving quickly to see how much work goes into just a 5-minute video. Simply put, I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a great way to promote a movie that is already going to be pushing the limit for the future of technology (modern stop-motion animation), and combining it with another technological advancement being VR.
The use of virtual reality in this video is extraordinary. We’re first in a pitch-black atmosphere with the Isle of Dogs logo and title “Behind the Scenes (In Virtual Reality)” at the bottom. When that disappears we then see the dog. The first thing I noticed when turning my head away from the talking dog is its voice becoming muffled and distant the more I looked in the other direction. Then when I moved my head back towards the dog I could hear the actor’s voice clearly again. It’s details like this one that really enhance the virtual reality experience and makes the viewer feel like they’re in another world.
This featurette made me more excited to see the movie than I already was, and with 350,000 views at the time of me viewing it I’m sure a lot of other people are as well. I got to see the characters in their respected setting, while having their connected voice describe them. It was just enough to get a taste of the movie without giving much of it away. I love seeing what goes on behind the scenes of movies, and the use of virtual reality was a perfect way to combine that with a glimpse of what the characters are going to be like.