Beyond being an immersive platform for video games and a tool for businesses, virtual reality is growing into an important means of telling stories. 360-degree videos and VR have been used in investigative journalism, new documentaries, and other similar narrative-driven experiences. In these early stages, a lot of work has to been put into developing the engine these experiences inhabit which stalls the creative process. The team at Artefact has developed a platform that allows artists, designers, and more to get straight into producing their ideas in VR and Artefact’s UX Designer Paul Hoover demoed the tool for us to show the possibilities.
When shaping Storyboard VR, which allows users to import 2D assets into explorable VR spaces, Paul tells us they found themselves inspired by programs like InVision and Sketch. Those tools allow users to quickly produce prototypes for web and mobile platforms, which is what Storyboard VR is to be for virtual reality.
“They are excellent in creating mock-ups that are polished enough to help suspend disbelief, yet do not require too much development time,” Hoover says. “As designers of digital experiences, we could not imagine our life without them. So when we started working on VR and MR projects, we wanted to have a similar tool that allows us to experiment and iterate quickly.”
What I was shown during the demo inspired ideas of virtual museums or encyclopedia entries, film and animation storyboarding, presentations, and dynamic ad spaces for brands. As Paul took me through different mock-ups though, I saw fluid virtual shopping ideas, elements that allow for weather visualization, and even space for choose-your-own-adventure games with all of the different layers or slides on which you can create and manipulate.
“If you are in the early stages of imagining a VR experience, it will be the perfect tool as it does not require development skills or 3D assets,” says Hoover. “As with traditional storyboards, Storyboard VR is about mapping out the story and figuring out early what will work and what won’t.”
A tool such as Storyboard VR could be instrumental in setting a standard for some types of virtual reality content and give plenty of people that don’t have a lot of VR experience the chance to tell their stories. Storyboard VR will be available in early 2017 and you can sign up on Artefact’s website to receive more information.