When the recession hit in 2008, book publisher Charlie Melcher looked to reinvent how Melcher Media told stories using the latest smart phone technologies. They developed an iOS app for Al Gore’s Our Choice, and started having a lot of conversations with other media producers from many different disciplines to see how they were using code as a canvas for storytelling. So in 2012, Charlie founded The Future of Storytelling Summit to gather together the most cutting-edge innovators of telling immersive and interactive stories. For the past four years, they’ve been featuring more and more virtual reality technologies at their yearly summit, which is happening again this year on October 5th and 6th.
Charlie cites Orality of Literacy by Walter Ong as a book that explores the impact of what was lost from oral traditions within cultures when the printed word started to become the authoritative source rather than from stories that were collaboratively shared. He sees that virtual and augmented reality is bringing us back to a previous time with “Living Stories” that are personalized, responsive, immersive, and multi-sensory. Rather than continuing to produce uni-directional linear media, these new immersive platforms are enabling us to play a more significant role within stories where we can exert our agency, express our creativity, and more fully collaborate in making stories.
I had a chance to catch up with Charlie to explore his thoughts on what VR can learn from immersive theater, the transformational potential of becoming a character within a story, the power of living stories, creating more social storytelling experiences, and how immersive technologies may be bringing back some of these pre-literate oral traditions and a greater tolerance for dealing with mystery and enchantment.
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I recommend checking out some of the speaker videos produced before each of The Future of Storytelling Summits. Here are some of the VR highlights worth checking out:
World Building with Alex McDowell
Glen Keane – Step into the Page with Tilt Brush
Language of Looking with Eyefluence
Saschka Unseld – Uncovering the Grammar of VR
Ubisoft’s Corey May on the Player story vs. Protagonist Story
The Three Moods of Netflix: Escape, Expand, or Socialize
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