We all know by now that VR is a creative playground ripe for experimentation. But that also means there's an inherent risk in every project, especially in longer-format work that requires a much bigger commitment from both producers and audience. And yet, that's exactly the risk VR creators Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël (whose studio goes by Felix & Paul) took with their 40-minute scripted comedy VR film Miyubi.
That risk was mitigated by the addition of the hilarious team at Funny or Die and VR hardware pioneers Oculus—with a dash of Jeff Goldblum thrown in for good measure. Miyubi, the result of their collaboration, premiered at Sundance and Cannes earlier this year and is now available to anyone with an Oculus-ready headset.
When we interviewed Lajeunesse and Raphaël at Sundance (audio embedded above), they told us that they began to learn about the fundamental element of VR—presence—through their initial work in documentary. Says Lajeunesse, "Anything that contains presence will amplify everything that comes after that," which of course comes into play when screenwriting for emotional beats. In Miyubi, our "presence" is a toy robot who is gifted to a lucky little boy in the early '80s; his family's entire story thereafter plays out from your perspective.
In making the transition to narrative film, Raphaël claims that the biggest creative challenge was working with an ensemble cast in the very long takes required by VR where you can't cut to different angles. "We had to think almost as if we were doing a form of intimate theater in which the viewer is part of it," he told us in the podcast. "We had to think of the mise en scène and staging and rhythm of the piece within those boundaries."
Learn more about the production by listening to our podcast interview above, and then check out the kooky (and sadly 2D) trailer below. You can download the whole movie free at the Oculus Store.