Digital Future – Five questions
with Pok Yue Weng

There’s no denying the convergence of technology and media, and one form of that is the popular trend of virtual reality. How can VR be incorporated into films to create 360 content and a more immersive experience for audiences? Filmmaker Pok Yue Weng, who spoke at the SGIFF’s SG Originals Exploring VR360 in Short Films talk alongside Lionel Chok, shares more about VR in filmmaking.

Pok Yue Weng

Pok Yue Weng

1. VR in films is really an example of the convergence of technology and media to present content in new ways. Its uses are probably most prevalent in documentaries at this starting stage. How do you imagine its future?

Like you mentioned, VR in films will progress further with the help of other technologies like AR or 3D and most importantly, haptics or hardware. With new technologies like new goggles (like the one being developed by Samsung, where the goggle tricks our inner ear to believing that the body is moving), this will definitely help in content creation because now when you have 360 content that has movement, the viewer needs to be on a moveable chair, so that you will not feel nauseous. 360 content creators are afraid to move the camera when they shoot for feel of extreme body resistance to movement.

As people get used to putting on the goggles or if a lightweight goggle is invented, more people will put on the goggles and for longer periods of time. They will be watching their tv on the goggles, while whatsapp messages appear at the side. You could be in your living room and the next thing you know, you are skiing in Iceland or walking through the busy streets in Japan. You could be in a virtual FaceTime with another person in the US. You could actually see the person standing in front of you. You could find yourself in a scene of a movie with Ryan Gosling or Michelle Yeoh. Endless possibilities.

2. What do you think is the biggest challenge VR brings to the film community?

Bringing different sections together. Programmers, developers, engineers who are developing these technologies need to work with content creators. Make these technologies available to the storytellers. Storytellers work with the engineers to tell them what the consumers want to see.

3. One of its biggest proposition for VR in films is freeing up the audience from a specific point-of-view. How do you think that can be an advantage to filmmakers telling a story?

It’s a different ballgame for filmmakers. Filmmakers no longer have the absolute control over what the viewer is going to look at. It is to create an environment for the viewer to experience the story on their own terms. The viewers might miss something but it promotes repeat viewing. It’s a different craft.

4. Is there a specific film that you would like to re-make using VR technologies?

Alien? VR works really great with horror or films with an exploratory slant. Experiencing an alien world, something we don’t have on earth would be quite extraordinary.

5. Tell us about your next project. What can the audience expect?

It’s a pilot for Starhub, done in 360. It’s going to be pretty ambitious, telling a narrative story in a series rather than one-off. It’s not only going to be in 360 but in traditional 2D live action as well. 360 is still relatively young dealing with narrative so I’m going to ease the audience from 2D live action to 360 and sometimes back and forth.