Storytelling transports us to new worlds. Remember when you were five years old and you could imagine the stories you heard coming to life? Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) actually bring these stories to life, breaking the constraints of the physical world to immerse you in an experience. Made with Unity creators Baobab and Atlas V wanted to share the power and potential of these kinds of emotional experiences as they presented their tentpole AR and VR projects for 2020 at this year’s NewFronts West.
NewFronts West is a conference that highlights creativity and innovation in new digital formats. TV paved the way for this conference format, which allows broadcast networks, websites, media companies, and others to present upcoming line-ups of content and talent to brands, marketers, and advertisers. As a result, this gathering creates valuable partnerships between content creators and brands. Along with Unity, companies such as BBC News, Ellen Digital Network, and Facebook took the stage at NewFronts West to share their latest digital content offerings.
At Unity, we’re always excited by the opportunity to showcase our creators and the incredible work they produce. We believe that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are the most powerful storytelling media ever created. Baobab and Atlas V use these formats to tell their stories.
Brands tell stories, too. Brands are brought to life by building relationships with customers through messaging and visualization. NewFronts West offered a chance for us to help build a bridge between these different kinds of storytelling.
While brands and marketers recognize the strong emotional connections they can forge with consumers through AR and VR, using any new medium for marketing and advertising comes with challenges. Pairing brands directly with professional content creators helps them to integrate AR and VR into their campaigns with less friction. Collaboration facilitates creative experiences that are authentic.
John Kulback, Head of Business Development and Strategy at Baobab Studios, inspired the audience by sharing the story of Baobab’s inception and their impressive list of compelling, star-studded projects. The cinematic VR experiences that Baobab brings to life, such as INVASION!, ASTEROIDS!, Crow: The Legend, and Bonfire, are not only visually stunning, they also captivate audiences by placing them at the center of the story and encouraging them to interact with it. This dynamic helps people to truly connect with the characters in a participatory experience that resonates emotionally.
VR gives audiences the power of choice. Like video game players, VR audiences can choose their next move, whether that’s looking up instead of at a character, picking up an object, or entering a new scene. The storytelling responds to the user rather than presenting a static, linear narrative that everyone must experience the same way.
At NewFronts West, Baobab shared a teaser of their latest project, slated for release in 2020. The studio has partnered with Unity to bring these kinds of stories to brands and partners who believe in the power of sharing immersive storytelling with the world.
Follow Baobab Studios on Twitter for more details about their upcoming projects.
Fred Volhuer, one of the co-founders of Atlas V, took the stage to remind the crowd that immersive experiences aren’t shaped by the technology that enables them, but by the artists who are changing the way we tell stories. As Fred pointed out, technology itself doesn’t inspire emotions and trigger curiosity. It’s a tool, and artists have always created and innovated with whatever tools were at their disposal, from stone, clay, and paint to code and digital graphics.
To contextualize how artists bring stories to life in VR, Fred highlighted three different experiences. First, he shared BattleScar, a 30-minute VR narrative following a year in the life of Lupe, a Puerto Rican-American living in late-1970s New York City. This coming-of-age drama has been presented at Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, and other prestigious festivals, and will be released in 2020 across in-home VR headsets and at digital entertainment centers. Next, he discussed Spheres, a three-chapter journey to uncover the hidden songs of the cosmos, written and directed by Eliza McNitt and produced by Darren Aronofsky.
Finally, the audience was introduced to Gloomy Eyes, from Jorge Tereso and Fernando Maldonado. In Gloomy Eyes, the audience follows Gloomy, a young zombie boy, through a world where the sun has disappeared as he strives to create a place for himself.
Atlas V offered sneak peeks of their upcoming projects for 2020, including an AR game inspired by Gloomy Eyes and a brand-new VR space adventure.
Stay tuned for more innovative storytelling from Atlas V by following them on Twitter.
As this powerful new wave of entertainment continues to swell, it’s essential to support the artists who are innovating and shaping what AR and VR can be. We want to enable creators to keep doing what they do best: pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
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To discover how XR creators are using Unity, check out our solutions page.