Maureen Fan, co-founder and CEO of Baobab Studios — the VR animation house behind Invasion! and Asteroids! — took the stage today at the DICE conference in Las Vegas to talk about how to use VR as a device for emotional storytelling.
Using the example of Chloe the bunny from the Emmy-winning Invasion!, Fan told the crowd, “In VR and AR we think we can get you to care more about these animals than in traditional 2D animation.” She then told a series of stories of stories about how the team at Baobab observed viewers as they interacted with Chloe. “This weird thing happened in VR where people would get down on their knees, they’d try to pet her, and try to play with her. Even though it was canned animations, people were convinced the bunny was reacting to their movements.”
Fan also talked a bit about Baobab’s next animated VR piece — Legend of Crow, also known as Rainbow Crow – which focuses on diversity, self-discovery, and acceptance. The piece is based on a Native American myth about how the crow went from a colorful songbird to having the dark feathers and raspy voice with which we’re more familiar. That voice provided by John Legend, who also happens to a producer on the project.
While Fan is obviously a champion of VR and feels like the platform has a bright future, she admits it’s still niche at this point in time, but proposes this isn’t a hardware issue but rather a content issue. “There needs to be quality content so the industry becomes as large as it needs to be,” she proposed, and her theory is that adoption is “based off of content instead of just accessibility of hardware.”