How might we tell stories in 360 degrees, on such platforms as the Oculus Rift or the connected home? One team at the New Screens Think & Do was thrilled by what 360-degree viewing experiences could provide for horror productions such as FX’s American Horror Story. Such tools could allow audiences to experience the element of surprise and suspense first-hand. This concept of “360-degree storytelling” resonates with multiple areas of the Edison Project, beginning with virtual reality and moving into the Connected Home/City.
Geoffrey Long’s The Lighthouse in the Woods is an immersive ghost story. Donning an Oculus Rift, the user finds herself locked in a windowless study as a disembodied voice tells how, one by one, the narrator’s family fell victim to a mysterious curse. Portraits on the walls illuminate as each family member is introduced, dim as each one falls, and re-illuminate as they come back. The audience member can move around the room, but cannot leave it, and has no control over how the story progresses – replicating the narrator’s experience of impending doom and helplessness. The Lighthouse in the Woods leverages the Rift’s unique sense of 360-degree immersion, but by removing nearly all of the audience’s agency, it subverts the assumption that the Rift is a gaming device and delivers a storytelling experience more akin to film, TV or theater.This project also explores how storytelling could evolve for a connected home. The Lighthouse in the Woods uses portraits to tell its story because connected digital picture frames are one possible additional “screen” to use in a living room.
(Note: this prototype came out of the AIL's Autumn 2013 Think & Do: Re-Envisioning the Home Entertainment Experience.)