Aardman and BBC Partner to Create VR Experience
Aardman is a Bristol animation company that recently partnered with the BBC to develop a new VR experience.
VR World Congress, is the UK’s largest virtual reality festival and it’s happening next week. Hundreds of people are expected to show up.
Lots of companies, including the well liked Aardman, will be attending the festival.
The people who created the Wallace and Gromit franchise also have exciting news as they’re partnering with the BBC to utilize VR to put more emotion into news stories. Aardman’s Executive Producer, Heather Wright, said, “I can’t tell you a huge amount, but it’s about looking at making news stories immersive. It’s all about exploring emotions, how people experience emotions. The BBC aims to inform, educate and entertain,” she said. “Previously we’ve worked very much in entertainment, but increasingly we’re moving into their education platform as well.”
The project is mysterious but we know that it’s supposed to launch in May 2016.
Aardman and the BBC both have experience in virtual reality. BBC has experimented with immersive experiences with “Big Blue Live” and “Strictly Come Dancing”. Aardman worked alongside Google to launch a 360-degree experience for kids in 2015. The experience named “Special Delivery” told the story of a tip toeing Santa and a janitor that was suspicious. The viewers are able to watch the character’s stories by simply moving their phones and they can angle upwards and downwards.
Heather believes that what is especially cool about virtual reality is that the user has the ability to control what they see and do. She said, “You can watch the story on your own terms, that’s the thrilling bit.”
She acknowledges however that virtual reality does present challenges to the VR developers. She said, “You don’t have the same control over the pacing of the story. Normally, if you were going to add a gag, you could cut away and back, but with VR you have to relinquish that control to the audience.”
Since the viewers can look wherever they want, that does make storytellers have to work harder to engage them.
Heather said, “It’s about finding new ways of creating excitement by hiding moments that have to be found,” Wright says. “In Special Delivery there’s a character who has increasingly trouble playing his saxophone in the background, for example, which is quite amusing.”
Animation has been the main focus for Aardman for a long time. Heather said, “There’s no reason why we couldn’t do stop motion in VR. Merging old and new is what we’re about.We want to be at the forefront of tech because we find that intrinsically exciting, but in any format it’s always got to be about great stories and characters with depth. I don’t think that anybody of any age is ever going to get bored of watching a really funny or scary story that’s told in a more linear way.”