VR Fall Bootcamp: Designing Narratives in Virtual Reality

Peabody Award-winning creator of Queerskins, Illya Szilak teaches VR storytelling: POV, attention, agency, interactivity, empathy.

6–8:30pm (Classroom 1)Note: This is a 6 part class (12.5 hours)

In this class, whatever your background – filmmaker, writer, visual artist, animator, game designer, or interactive designer – you will learn to think about story differently.

Drawing from her own Peabody Futures of Media Award-winning VR experience Queerskins: a love story and other works, instructor Illya Szliak will take you through the critical elements of storytelling in VR, such as:

  • point-of-view,
  • attention,
  • agency,
  • and the use of different types of media.

Each class begins at 6pm with an optional 30 minutes of viewing works in headset, followed by a discussion and then a provocative deep dive into storytelling in VR from 6:30 – 8:30pm. In addition to lecture and discussion, participants will storyboard an idea for a VR scene, followed by class discussion and critique.

Confirmed works, plus more TBD: Dear Angelica, Notes on Blindness, and Wolves in the Walls.

No tech or game engine experience is necessary.

This class expands on the success of Illya’s sold-out shorter format class, Virtual Reality Storytelling Primer. Of that experience, filmmaker Chithra Jeyaram said:

I have been exploring VR for a specific story for a year now. Illya’s class expanded my world view on VR and provided a paradigm shift on how to think about VR storytelling. So very cool and awesome. She is lovely at bridging core principles of storytelling with how human beings interact and perceive the world around them. Virtual Reality is a nascent medium that draws from so many disciplines and her class helps us appreciate that and think of our VR projects differently.

What You Will Learn

  • VR as a spatial medium; Presence, the evolving language of VR; What organizes reality for the visitor in VR?

  • Inspiration for VR storytelling from other art forms

  • Interactivity

  • Character development and point of view; Emotional and narrative arcs; Aesthetic considerations and conventions; Story as a way to organize information

  • Empathy; Ethical storytelling

About the instructor

Illya Szilak

Illya Szilak

Illya Szilak is a writer, director, and interactive storyteller. Shaped by her experiences as a physician, her artistic practice explores embodiment, identity, and belief in a media-inundated and increasingly virtual world. Cyril Tsiboulski is her longtime artistic partner. Their online works are taught frequently on a university level as notable examples of innovative storytelling and digital literature. Their first VR experience Queerskins: a love story premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2018 and was exhibited widely including commissioned installations at the L.A. Film Festival, the Houston Cinematic Arts Festival and a month-long solo show at The Toronto International Film Festival’s TIFF Light Box Gallery. Their second VR experience Queerskins Ark incorporates 360 video, 3D volumetric video, and interactive dance, and has been chosen for the Venice Biennale College VR Cinema Lab 2019. They are recipients of grants from The Sundance Institute, The Tribeca Film Institute, and The Peter Reed Foundation.

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