This week I watched The Drawing Room, an animated short 360 film by Jan Rothuizen and Sara Kolster. I watched it in 360 on YouTube, but it’s made for the Oculus Rift, which it uses for head tracking with six degrees of freedom to create an immersive experience with more 3D depth.
The story is Jan’s attempt to convey his experience in The Room on the Roof artist residency space, over a span of time in which nothing really happened outside of his own emotional adjustment to being there. He conveys this successfully, employing immersive visuals to transport us to the space, and voiceover to recount his internal monologue while there.
Here’s a video of people watching it on the Oculus Rift.
A lot of the wow-factor seems to come from head tracking gimmicks, but overall the piece is a very successful transportation into his experience. It also works as a proof-of-concept for two elements that can be recycled in other VR pieces: simple line drawing environments and illustrated text.
Line Drawing in VR
VR scenes crafted in Unity are often at once hyper-real and lacking life. The line drawing environment allows your imagination to fill in the blanks- it’s more gentle, somehow more giving. The Drawing Room felt wonderful to watch, even on YouTube.
I was surprised by how much I wanted to read the text scattered around. Usually text in VR is a headache to read. The text in The Drawing Room was hand-written and charming- always a delight to find. Here’s all of the text scattered across a single frame:
There was another type of narrow-block lettering used as an overlay sometimes which I found very difficult to read. This may have been deliberate, but it was too much for me. Here’s an example - it says SHOPPING HERE SHOULD BE A PREMIUM EXPERIENCE. This might have been a neat idea in 2D, but in VR it was headache-inducing.
I’d like to watch The Drawing Room on the Oculus next. If I do, I’ll update this post with my thoughts.