Creating Dyskinetic was a strange experience for me. After all, I’m a game designer by trade, but the idea of tackling some of the challenges that creating a film for the oculus rift presented was just too interesting to pass up, especially the idea of writing something that made sense considering you could look around, but not move. I learnt a lot in the time that I spent and created something that I was massively proud of, but I know there’s more that we can do.
In the beginning, I had a few simple personal goals, make something that showed off the potential for using the oculus rift for films, the potential for first person cinema and to attract other creators. Someone with time and resources could make something potentially amazing, but there was too much focus on tech, not enough on exploring the interaction or the interface of the experience. So whatever was made, I wanted it to tell a story, to actually be one of the first things to really explore the narrative potential within a virtual reality experience.
The brainstorming process was relatively quick because of all the restrictions we had. We only had two GoPro cameras. We only had two months of time to do everything and the manpower of two people who were busy with other commitments. We settled on a concept where the viewer and the character was on a bed, so the viewer couldn’t move their head to see where we couldn’t film because we only had two cameras. This didn’t end up exactly working, we still had people sitting up, looking behind, looking at the seam, but it ended up being part of the experience itself.
We worked slowly in the beginning and spending a few hours each week trying to slowly figure out the tech, but with the deadline looming, we spent more and more time trying to understand how the process could work. There was very little documentation on creating something like this. I had an epiphany of how it needed to work and suddenly, it all began to fall into place.
However, it still took a lot of mental power and a lot of bashing my head against programs to make them work the way I wanted to when I hadn’t even heard of them two-three weeks before, but I was getting closer and closer. I managed to go through the full post-production process and created a short five second film about two days before the actual shooting.
The final post processing took about 3-4 working days, with me still stumbling over some of the programs I managed to vaguely understand and then I handed it off to Oscar. It was so odd because I felt triumphant that I had finally completed this, but I wouldn’t even see someone else watch it properly until six days, since I was to go to Berlin for a games festival.
And on the final day of GoShort, I was there. It was quiet, since the shops were closed, but there was still a stream of people, waiting patiently for half an hour just to watch a 7 minute experience. A woman even told me that she had thought she would ask me to stop the film because she almost cried, but her hearing me and her friend talk about it had reminded her that it was just fiction. Another told me that the experience felt spiritual.
It.. was odd to think that my work had such an effect on someone else and in my head, whilst i know it was a success and I’m happy with what we managed to do, there’s so many things that can be done better. I have a lot of thoughts about how to make a second one, and thoughts on why the narrative is so difficult, which would probably merit some kind of paper in itself. But I’m happy. I hope I inspired someone to pick up some cameras, a rift and figure out their way of doing it.
By Brenden Gibbons, writer and technical lead of Dyskinetic