Explainer Video 1 Progress

APPROACH

Having organized all of my assets last week, I was able to use this week to finalize my script and storyboards. I focused on three main points: my technical exploration of VR and AR, research work, and collaborative experience. From there I briefly detail my direction moving forward for the next semester. After a few drafts, I felt comfortable with the script and began rearranging the storyboards into a formal template. 

Final storyboard template, with timing and narration. 

While it was recommended for us to work in Premiere, I have more experience in After Effects and chose to use it for this video. The most difficult part of this week was recording the narration. I did a few test recordings using old script drafts, then a new one with the final. The pace of my speech would vary and I learned that there are certain sounds that are very difficult for me to say clearly. The animatic I produced at the end of the week is still using rough audio that needs to be edited for timing, but I was able to begin dropping some of the footage I already have into the composition. 

Screenshot of Animatic work in After Effects

Screenshot of Animatic work in After Effects

CHOICES MADE

The Explainer Video was already solidly planned for work this week, and my choices there were made early on with content organization and script editing. Tori and I have chosen to meet every Tuesday morning to discuss research findings and thoughts on project development for the potential Ruby Bridges project, though we still communicate frequently about this project at other points in the week. 

RELEVANT SOURCES/INSPIRATION 

I was sent several relevant sources this week. Joe pointed me in the direction of the VR/AR Association Online Conference, taking place from January 16-30. There are speeches being given in a variety of tracks, including Education and Storytelling, and they are recorded for viewing at any point. I also found that there are committees for each track with links to relevant articles. There are several talks in the Education track that I will be listening to this week, one specifically being "VR in Education: from Perception to Immersion" by Steve Barnbury. (Linked HERE)

Maria also sent Tori and I several relevant sources throughout the week addressing some of the questions I mentioned in my last post. While we’re not entirely sure that we’re going with the Ruby Bridges story, part of our conversation this week was how to figure out which books students are reading and how to narrow down that search. This article titled “The Confounding Science of Children’s Literature” tells us that nobody can agree why or how kids pick certain books to read. There are some subjects and genres that are overwhelmingly more popular than others and books with narratives are generally preferred, but It also mentioned that kids are picking books that can be part of a social experience, or something that they can talk to their friends about. There seems to be a small section of research in this area to get into, and this will likely be talking point for Tori and I this week. 

The Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise by Jane Elliott has also been part of the discussion this week. This project centers on ultimately fostering empathy for the students, and the exercise run by Elliott gives a classroom of students the experience of being a minority. The documentary for this project is linked below. While they do have some crossover, I was thinking about how she uses the social dynamics of a classroom to immerse students in this experience and if virtual reality (an individual experience) is able to create the same impact.

On the topic of empathy, another article sent by Maria actually argues a different side- that VR can be misleading and misrepresent their topics. Full immersion is interrupted by factors such as safety and that these are short-term experiences. The article ("It's Ridiculous to use Virtual Reality to Empathize with Refugees") is discussing VR in terms of disability simulations and refugee situations, but it does make a good point when discussing the factor of time and player awareness. If the player is aware that this is a simulation, will that lessen the impact because the element of fear will no longer exist? I feel that fear can be simulated to some degree in VR, but so many of these situations come from fear being experienced over an extended period of time. Those feelings cannot be replicated, and that is a point worth remembering.

CURRENT QUESTIONS/NEEDS RAISED

Last week I was thinking about broader implications of the project, and most of those questions have not been answered so they still stand. The needs raised for this week have to do with information- I need to sit down and gather all the information on topics being discussed (empathy in VR, VR in education, narratives in VR). Then from there see what questions are left or need to be reformed. 

LIKELY NEXT STEPS

This week will be completing the Explainer Video 1. This will involve editing audio, recording gameplay, and creating a rough cut of the video for Tuesday. 

The rest of my work for my project with Tori will be reading and gathering information. I'm still reading Flow, though the sections this week were not really relevant to my work. I have the videos from the AR/VR Conference to sort through about VR in the classroom, and a TED talk linked in the source above about empathy in VR.