Oral storytelling. Written story (including recording of many originally spoken tales). Motion pictures. Animation. Live broadcasting. Video.
Transmutation isn’t quite the word for it. Neither is transformation. Nor evolution. I settled for “Generations.” We don’t discard older formats when we add a new one to our story-telling heritage.
Now, the power of story is transformed again, as the storyteller incorporates virtual reality.
Virtual Setting. The creating of avatars that live a virtual life can be used as a powerful form of story-telling. Think of the possibilities! Places like Second Life allow many people to create a landscape together. Landscapes (the setting for a story) can create a personal reality, jointly imagined. The look of a virtual landscape can be precisely engineered to give the viewer a sense of place. Newer processors allow cleverly rendered images and sound systems that immerse the reader in “3-d”. Virtual reality can be rendered so well they give participants who move too quickly in it motion sickness. Individual blades of grass, the speed of the clouds scudding across the sky, and the shadows they cast, can be programmed to respond to the “apparent breeze.” You may not notice the subtle changes in cloud shadows on the tree trunks and such, but I’ll bet they have a subliminal effect which adds to the sense of “reality” of the place. In fact, things can seem too real. I remember that the designers of Fiona in the original Shrek said they took a step back from looking too realistic, in order to make it “fit” their sense of a fairy tale story (I got this from the DVD I bought, it came with added features that explained some of the rendering work).
Character. Here’s another place where the story can be jointly imagined. In a virtual reality, your avatar is a character. People usually only helm one avatar at a time. Now with common meeting grounds like Second Life, you can bring as much of yourself to the landscape as you might as an author. You might choose to don a persona, like a traditional author dons a pseudonym.
Point of View. Jointly imagined. Or not. I suppose it is possible to render a world, and a story, completely, and then invite others to bring their avatars to come live it. Avatars entering the story can have their actions completely “scripted” by the person who created the story. Or, they can make some decisions on their own. Think of the new take on “choose your own adventure” type stories! The story would be communicated through an “avatar’s eye view.” Talk about a new point of view!
In my next post, I plan to list links to some videos I use to talk about traditional video, digital editing, story creation, the impact of web20, and machinima with my students. If you know of anything “avatar’s-eye view” that I can add, let me know.