NYT and Milk(vr) Create Star-Studded Noir Series Of 360-Degree Shorts

by Charles Singletary • December 14th, 2016

First-person VR narrative experiences welcome us into intense dramas by making users into crucial parts of the story instead of spectators, and Milk(vr) (not to be confused with the retired Samsung brand of the same name) partnered with New York Times and some well-known actors to create nine cool shorts that exhibit this idea. We communicated over email with Armando McIntyre-Kirwin, Milk(vr) co-founder and director of virtual reality, about this huge project.

don-cheadle-with-odyssey

“One of the promises of VR is that it can produce a sense of being physically present inside a virtual world,” McIntyre-Kirwin wrote. “What makes the narrative language so important is that it has a hundred-year history of drawing people into stories and creating a suspension of disbelief to keep them there–in other words, VR and narrative filmmaking share the exact same goal.”

He continues by expressing how early VR companies have wanted to explore narrative VR and just haven’t been able to pull it off correctly. These shorts presented by the New York Times are brief but impactful looks into how this format works and it helps to have major A-list actors to help define it.

When working with actors like Don Cheadle and Natalie Portman for the project, McIntyre-Kirwin notes that there had to be a shift in understanding when it comes to camera engagement. In the vast majority of instances, actors are taught to ignore the camera at all costs. Utilizing the first-person perspective, though, the actors have to look us in the eyes and speak directly to us through the camera. They’re professionals and certainly get the job done, something you can witness yourself as you watch the noir styled shorts here and via the NYTVR app.

odyssey-with-noir-extras

With big names attached to these shorts, one would wonder if a feature film could be put together in the format, but McIntyre-Kirwin says we have a ways to go before that’s a reality.

“The technology isn’t there yet,” he says. “In addition to iterative improvement to things like display technology, I believe that progress on the interactive side of VR–whether games or video–will be crucial to push the audience to want to spend a significant amount of time in a virtual world.”

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