App Review: Experience White Room's 360-Degree Storytelling

Download White Room: 02B3 ($2.99) on your iPhone, sit in a swivel chair, and watch perhaps the first fully conceived 360-degree movie. If you want want to spend $2.99 to do that, that is. I think the price is reasonable, but in today’s online economy, free would have been better as a technology demonstration to get the technology established—but there are costs to recoup.

White Room is a science fiction short—what else would you expect from the team at Roddenberry (the legacy of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry). The film is the story of six strangers who suddenly awaken in a white room and surmise that they are participants in an experiment that changes their lives. One member of the group knows more. What most don’t know is that this isn’t just an experiment, but also a test that if successful, could change the face of humanity forever. 

The movie stars Breckin Meyer, Tamlyn Tomita, David Blue, Rachel True, and Doug Jones, as well as Internet icons Tony Janning and Milynn Sarley.

When watching the movie, I had a tendency to want to put the camera at eye level, to be with the characters in their space, but it is delivered so it is best viewed at an angle, and more chest high. The creative team seems to have thought about how people should watch it, though they didn’t seem to think about how people thought they should watch it. This is always an issue with the user interfaces.

White Room is not a sit-back-and-enjoy experience. You are in it, to a degree; though unlike games, you aren’t actually represented by anything other than the point of view.

White Room: 02B3 was created specifically for 360-degree viewing. It offers an immersive viewing experience that allows viewers to actually rotate their perspective 360 degrees around the film without breaking the viewing quality or interrupting the storytelling. In fact, the storytelling is enhanced by the experience. The ability of viewers to shift perspectives, follow characters, decide who and what is seen, and what isn’t, creates a unique experience for each viewer rather than the passive experience of traditional movies, 

I highly recommend that you view the movie at its default zoom level, though zooming in isn’t a big issue, and it does let you focus on people and objects. Zooming out, however, ruins the experience, introducing a fish eye perspective that distorts the images and causes the brain to lose its suspension of belief.

Besides running on your iPhone, White Room and movies like it, can be experienced at Dome Theaters like that at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Think of White Room: 02B3 as a pilot. It sets up not just a new experience, but perhaps a new narrative that I hope continues. The directors and actors have things to learn about this experience: what to do with the space above the characters – what to do with the center of the space where the viewer exists. When an experience sits in 360, it should effectively use its entire canvas. Unlike some virtual reality experiences, White Room: 02B3 doesn’t achieve that yet. And speaking of VR, I would like to see this experience in virtual reality and where that goes when the viewer is really watching from right in the action.

View trailers and get other information at whiteroom02b3.com.

 

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Author Details

Daniel Rasmus's picture

Author Details

Daniel Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus is the Founder and Principal Analyst at Serious Insights. He is the author of Listening to the Future, Management by Design and Sketches of Spain and Other Poems. Rasmus teaches at Bellevue College where he teaches Social Media and Personal Branding.