Screenwriting for Virtual Reality
It's an exciting time for filmmakers. For decades, we've been using a finite screen to tell our stories. We created a new language with this screen--the language of cinema. We were confined to the space of this rectangle, but we were free to play around with the perception of time--jumping in and out of flashbacks, slowing down motion and speeding it up, and even jumbling the order of a story's events.
But now, with the advent of virtual reality cinema, we are given an infinite 360-degree screen, and finally, we are able to play around with perceptions of both time and space. And like every film ever made, it all starts with a screenplay.
Yet this is no normal screenplay--it's a VR screenplay, where the writer must maneuver viewers not only through the story, but through a virtual space using character actions (eg. a character running to the left of the viewer will guide the viewer's gaze to the left) and directional audio cues (eg. an explosion sounding from the viewer's right hand side).
This method of writing VR is still being shaped. And with today's easy access to VR filmming gear, as well as the availability of VR sharing platforms, VR filmmakers are able to test out this new language and collect feedback in real time. We'll learn what works and what doesn't, shaping the standard of what scripted cinematic VR will look like in years to come.