MiYUBi by Felix & Paul Studios proves that 360 VR video can be amazing!
Felix and Paul Studios, a Montreal based cinematic VR production house, has delivered quite possibly the best 360 VR video we've seen thus far. This new 360 video experience is called "MiYUBi", and is currently available for download for the Gear VR and Oculus Rift platforms. MiYUBi made it's original debut, back at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was extremely well received. Now, the rest of us can get a chance to try it out.
Unfortunately, many VR enthusiasts have already written off the 360 video medium as something that isn't worth their time or attention. It's unfortunate, because while 360 videos up to this point have been mostly mediocre at best, MiYUBi is trying to break the mold. This video is 40+ minutes, which seems like a gruelling amount of time to spend watching a 360 video. Most of these experiences are in the 10 minute and under range, yet here we have a 40 plus minute 360 video marathon. The crazy thing is, if you give this video half a chance, you'll probably find yourself riveted to the action and story from the moment you begin, until the end credits roll.
MiYUBi, is set in 1982, as we watch the trials and tribulations of the average dysfunctional American family. The story begins during a young boy's birthday party, where he receives a toy robot that his Dad has brought back from a business trip to Japan. (The boy is played by Owen Vaccaro who you might recognize from the hilarious "Daddy's Home" movie from 2015)
As the viewer, you have a starring role in this production. You're playing the part of MiYUBi, the toy robot. You get to see and experience everything through MiYUBi's digital eyes. The robot is limited in his interactions, but you can look in almost any direction, and take in the full breadth of the scene happening all around you. The actual video quality is a slight step above the usual fare, but it's not the key reason why MiYUBi is so special. The quality that takes MiYUBi to a new level, beyond any other 360 video experience to date, is the fact that the entire production was centered around taking 360 videos' biggest inherent flaw, and turning it into a net positive. We can't really move around inside 360 video yet. We're pretty much rooted to one spot, needing to view everything from that one perspective. Putting us in the shoes of a stationary robot is the perfect vehicle for pushing this story along. We have a front row seat into the dysfunctional family dynamics of this American household.
Still, you could have the perfect execution of this concept, and still come up with something that doesn't quite work. Luckily for Felix & Paul's sake, they got a bevy of great acting performances in this piece, from all the actors involved. I'm not trying to suggest that any of these actors deserve Academy Awards for their performances, but the quality acting absolutely elevated this production to new heights. P.J. Byrne, who played the role of the young boy's father, did a particularly outstanding job. You really feel like you get to know this Dad, his good sides and bad, during these 40 odd minutes. Emily Bergl (The Mom), Richard Riehle (Grandpa), Ted Sutherland (older brother) and Tatum Kensington Bailey (little sister) all perform their roles admirably as well.
Honestly, I could go on and on about how impressed I was with this production, but the proof is in the pudding. I highly recommend every VR enthusiast with access to a Gear VR or Oculus Rift check this out as soon as possible. If you have an HTC Vive, try this out via Revive if you can. Hopefully this production will eventually become available for PlayStation VR owners as well. This really is something that should be seen by every VR headset owner out there. It's one of the few shining examples of what 360 video is actually capable of, even on these first generation headsets. At one point I seriously thought we should just completely forget about 360 video until we have much higher resolution headsets, but I'm thankful that something like MiYUBi has come along to prove me wrong. Felix and Paul Studios have demonstrated what's possible even on our current level of hardware. Hopefully many other creators will see this and get inspired to do the same.