Extravaganza: The World Unseen Behind VR Headset
VR is known for bringing immersive experience, and this is why the audience might consider horror, Xsports and other types of content with certain sensory stimuli fit into this new medium better. In fact, there is a quite amount of 360/VR content impress the audience by eliciting a deeper layer understanding. Therefore, VR filmmakers never stop exploring the best way to express in VR. But there are questions need to be answered at first: how can the filmmakers better leverage the advantages of VR to reflect human nature and social phenomenon? What are other potential film genres that can be applied in VR to demonstrate more in-depth insights？
The Tribeca VR Film Extravaganza, directed by Ethan Shaftel, tries to find the answers. It integrates 3D animation and live-action footage into a satirical comedy, and critiques that a new medium can produce old forms of bigotry. The cast stars Paul Scheer (30 Rock, The League, Fresh Off the Boat), Will Greenberg (Wrecked, Workaholics), John Gemberling (Broad City, Marry Me) and Annie Tedesco (Granite Flats, NCIS)。
Extravaganza traps the audiences in an extraordinarily crude puppet show that slowly becomes an offensive parody in response to the clueless executive, played by Paul Scheer. Unlike other puppet shows, Extravaganza discloses prejudices and arrogance more aggressively by depicting balloon-breasted women and racially stereotypical black men, who are slaughtered by a monocled 19th-century explorer. Do you feel the discomfort when you are performing in the puppet show? If not, you may already lose the ability to perceive the wrongness.
However, Extravaganza discusses more than stereotypes and racism from the social level. It finds two deeper reasons from the individual level that cause these social problems – lack of agency and empathy creation.
Lack of agency
Shaftel said, “Extravaganza is all about the issues of control and point of view. The idea of being a puppet is a very active experience but also explains the complete lack of agency and control that a viewer has. It’s not a game engine experience, it’s a 360°/VR video, meaning your arms and hands are going to do things that you don’t control and don’t intend. That’s the definition of a puppet. And thinking about VR in general, the experience is very similar.”
Back to the reality, individuals are like the puppets in the show who always lack control in this world when confronting the all-powerful machine. Just like Morpheus said to Neo in The Matrix, “You are here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain.” You know you are trapped in the puppet show, but what and why traps you in the show?
When you are performing in the puppet show, you may ask yourself: Do you want to be submissive to the executive or go with the alternative – stop entertaining him? But wait, do you really have the choice?
VR, as well as traditional 2D film, is only a form of medium. It opens a window onto worlds unseen, even our undetected and unwanted inner world. However, the difference is that immersion makes the VR film all about yourself rather than empathizing the character in the traditional 2D film.
According to Shaftel, the audiences will never see themselves as the protagonist in the traditional film, which leaves the discussion on whether viewing from the first-person perspective in VR stimulates empathy. Shaftel said, “In a traditional film you feel like you’re in their skin, but the immersion of VR undermines that. It’s no longer the brain hack that we have relied on for a hundred years, that filmmaking has relied on to make is have emotional change and catharsis. Immersion undermines that empathy in a very real way. Immersion makes it about you.”
It’s hard to find the target to empathize in Extravaganza. Shaftel explained, “In Extravaganza, the viewer finds themselves in the novel position of being ‘consumed’ by an audience, subjected to their insults and confronted with many of mainstream entertainment’s blind spots and prejudices.” In this case, the audiences become vulnerable, sensing the feeling of being viewed by others from a God-like perspective, just like what they do to the characters when watching 2D films. The experience can’t stimulate empathy anymore but make the audiences lament their situations. How can VR create empathy when there is no person to empathize but yourself？
Extravaganza is now available on VeeR. To get one of the most unusual VR experiences, download VeeR VR Immersive on your headset (Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR) and enjoy the Extravaganza at only $1.99 in TOP PAID.
How to enjoy the premium content on VeeR?
Step 1: Download VeeR on your headset (Oculus Go, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR)
Step 2: Open your VeeR, and click “Top Paid” on the navigation bar on top of the screen.
Step 3: Seat back and enjoy your favorite content
VeeR VR is a leading VR content platform with the mission of empowering everyone to create and share virtual reality content. Within a year of its establishment, it’s become a phenomenon sweeping through the 360 community, and has been featured on Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR and HTC Vive. While we believe that VR is the future of storytelling, we want to encourage all VR lovers to create beyond boundaries.