For me, this is a exceptionally clever use of VR. It shows its potential for emotional connection through character-driven storytelling. The key concept is ’empathy’. When you’re immersed in the ‘rift’ you can’t help but be really touched by ‘Henry’ and all his little dilemmas . He’s an oh-so-cute but lonely hedgehog that has trouble making friends because of his prickly body. He’s celebrating his birthday and he wants to hug people, but his quills keep everyone away. He does befriend some balloon animals, but as soon as one of them is touched by him they burst. Ohh Henry! The others pause for a moment, and then run away, eventually escape, leaving him alone with his birthday cake. There’s a really endearing moment where Henry makes eye contact with you, and those sad eyes of his make you feel genuine compassion. The balloon animals eventually return with a solution that keeps him safe from the quills. As soon as Henry looks at you there’s that moment of empathy because he’s all alone. His eyes are in sync with your eyes. While you’re in the rift your eyes determine his following actions. As the viewer you experience a real feeling of connection that you’re right there with him, at his table, sharing time and space with him and understanding his woes. Almost like you’d be happy to be his friend and hug him and share his birthday cake!?
The creative and technical team describe it as a ‘heartwarming comedy’ of immersive cinema. Meet Henry from Story Studio in the latest release. And meet the VR team behind him!