Visual Story Network

Exec Summary: 5 Principles of Storytelling in Virtual Reality

25 people participated in our "Mission ARVR Network" online event on July 18, 2018. John Bucher is an innovator and author of Storytelling for Virtual Reality. John addressed five key ideas to help students of new media and professionals navigate the emerging world of VR technology and the art form of classical storytelling. The 20-minute presentation was followed by Q&A and a networking time. The notes, recorded webinar, and a partial participant list are below.

We encourage all Christ-followers interested in the kingdom application of AR and VR to join the "Mission AR/VR" group on Facebook.

We have also hosted other Mission AR/VR events. Here are the summaries and recordings...

     June 30, 2016 Meet & Greet 

     April 20, 2017 Meet & Greet

     Sep 6, 2017 Leaning into the AR/VR World 

     May 23, 2018 5 Principles of Building Community in VR


5 Principles of Storytelling in Virtual Reality

1. Experimentation is Essential 

  • VR is a new medium
  • It took decades to understand Film
  • Experimentation is essential for understanding VR
  • VR cannot be Film 2.O
  • Need to be OK with failing

2.  Characters, Conflict, and Goals

  • There are certain elements of Storytelling that are needed in all stories
  • Character
    • For VR, either the audiences can be a ghost watching the main character, or they can become the main character
  • Conflict
    • Necessary for the audience to do something
    • Rather than simply walking around and exploring a sandbox
  • Goals
    • An audience needs to have something to do 
    • The engagement becomes limited without a goal in mind

3. Resolution

  • VR still needs to have a complete story
  • People might not be able to have the headset on for 2 hours
  • The goal for time should be around 7-8 minutes, BUT needs to have emotional resonance 

4. Using Passive Engagement

  • The Environment helps tell the story
  • Every stylistic choice needs to help tell the story
  • Color Theory is important
  • Audio can help the audience dive deeper in or take them out of the experience 

5. Embracing Form Over Formula

  • Creators want to find an easy to replicate formula
  • However, we cannot use the same method every time
  • Currently, there is an attempt to learn the FORM of VR. 
  • Practice will be the only way to learn the form.  

Ethical Consideration  

  • We, as People of Faith, need to have Ethical Consideration when creating new content
  • People need to be told what kind of experience that they are going into such as the subject matter or if the story has had physical effects on people

VR as Storytelling Medium 

  • Huge opportunities going forward
  • Possibilities of reliving memories

Event Recording

Partial Participant List

  • Krista Saderwall:  International division at CBN, in early talks of being in VR world, trying to connect with foreign countries 
  • Jennifer Prophete: Lutheran Ministries International team member trying to absorb as much information as possible,
  • Jeffery Anderson: Far East Broadcasting Company content creations, audience relations, and researching, 
  • Tom Kuster: Professor in Christ in Media Institute at Bethany Lutheran College, 
  • Mike Peckham: Director of Film Production at Jesus Film, VR work with Jesus Film,
  • Jim Maguire: Director of television programs in Central Asia, trying to share more into the culture
  • Steve Sharp: Global Hearts Ministries, produce programs trying to outreach more people, interested in getting two-way communication, 
  • Steve Baughman: SIL, hosting an event with DJ SOTO in April, 
  • Brian James: Traditional Missions Agencies. Trying to be forward thinking in how to better reach people
  • Dan Wathen: Cook Pictures, trying to find up and coming technologies that can be used for clients
  • Wayne Dye: Professor at GIAL,
  • Tom Khazoyan: Filmmaker for different media who is interested in VR field
  • Mirella Carrozzieri: Beginner in VR, but highly interested


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