In the fall of 2016 as part of the Visual Story class at the Entertainment Technology Center, I wrote and directed a 360 degree short film based on the Pixar prompt:
“Once upon a time…every day…until one day…because of that…because of that…until finally…and ever since then…”
We had a set of locations to choose from, so we decided to tell a sweet story that took place at a bus stop and a coffee shop. The narrative was our take on the simple “love at first sight” idea, using color to show connection and affection. I created the film with four other students: Michael Luan, Pradnesh Patil, Matthew Stone, and Anqi Yang. The actors are myself and Anqi. We used the song “Married Life” from the film Up.
Filming in 360 degrees presented some interesting challenges, especially coupled with the fact that we were not allowed to use dialogue at all. We needed to rely entirely on visuals not only to effectively convey the story but also to get the viewers watching the correct places to begin with. Luckily, I had some experience directing theater scenes with little or no dialogue, and knew some techniques used on stage to direct the audience’s gaze. The images on this page are scenes from the film in 360 degrees, so feel free to click and drag to look around the scene.
When writing the initial story beats, I made sure I was using simple, clear events and actions that could be easily communicated through body language and avoided trying to convey more than one idea at once. I used movement and gaze to direct the viewer’s eyes throughout the piece. For example, when a character is entering the character already in the scene looks up to show the viewers that something is happening, and a scene shift happens when the characters walk past the camera, so that the viewer’s natural inclination to turn and follow them leads them to look in the right place in the next scene. In addition, I used the amount of color in the scene to help convey the tone of the story. As the characters become more connected, more and more of the scene is in color. When one of them has to leave, the color fades again.