Production of a VR Horror Movie Using a Head-Mounted Display with a Head-Tracking System
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Head-mounted displays (HMDs) that feature a stereoscopic wide-viewing angle and head-tracking function for virtual reality environments have emerged recently. As a result of this development, various contents that use the special qualities of HMDs have begun to be produced suddenly. In this study, we propose a short horror movie for HMDs using a free viewpoint that takes advantage of the features of the head-tracking system.
KeywordsHead-mounted display 3DCG Virtual reality
Head-mounted displays (HMDs) that feature a stereoscopic wide-viewing angle and head-tracking function for virtual reality (VR) environments have emerged recently. A head-tracking system enables the display to follow the movement of a user’s head. As a result of this development, various contents that use the special qualities of HMDs have begun to be produced suddenly. HMDs evoke a strong absorbing sense; thus, they are suitable for the production of horror movies. In this study, we propose a short horror movie for HMD that uses a free viewpoint that takes advantage of these features. We create the movie using Oculus Rift VR Development Kit 2.
In directing the horror scenes, we use as reference the “perfect formula” for horror movies as published by King’s College London in 2004. This formula indicates that the most important factors of the genre are escalating music, a sense of the unknown, and chase scenes. We direct the horror gimmicks based on this formula.
2 Countermeasure to Problem of HMD
HMD has various advantages that bring a sense of absorption in VR. However, it also has several disadvantages. In this study, we thoroughly consider the way to address such disadvantages.
The user does not know the way from which he/she should move or the screen moves in an unintended direction.
The screen movement causes sudden acceleration and deceleration or a sharp curve. As long as the screen movement is accelerating, the user experiences a sense of collision that increases in momentum because of sudden acceleration, deceleration, and turn.
When the Oculus Rift is used, the distance between the actual screen and the eyes is short. Thus, the viewer may experience nausea and eye fatigue after using the device for many hours.
Safety for Viewers
We have to consider safety when wearing an HMD because the user cannot see the surroundings. For example, using the device poses a risk of contact when other people or objects are near the viewer. Furthermore, if the viewer is standing while wearing the HMD, his/her body could become unsteady when the vestibular sense is paralyzed.
Compatibility with Other Devices
A viewer cannot see his/her own hand because Oculus Rift is a non-transparent type of HMD. Therefore, its compatibility with other devices, such as keyboards and controllers, is not good. A viewer who is unaccustomed to keyboards or controllers may have difficulty knowing where certain buttons are located without looking at one’s hands. Additionally, once the viewer loses control, he/she has to grab the controllers.
3 Solution to the Problem in HMD
In this study, the following method is conducted to solve the problem stated in Sect. 2.
Solution to 3D Drunkenness
- (i)The player is placed on a lorry on a stage and a railroad track is placed on the ground, as shown in Fig. 1. The audience can grasp the course as they move forward.
Rapid turn and acceleration and deceleration are avoided to the utmost. The speed of the lorry decreases as much as possible in this production. Moreover, the lorry is programmed to slow down when it turns perpendicularly and climbs stairs.
The movie should not be long or should be set up a rest point.
The movie in this project is approximately 4–5 min long.
Ensuring Viewer Safety
As mentioned, we have to consider safety because the viewers are unable to see their surroundings while wearing the HMD. For example, when another person or an object is near the viewer, the risk of physical contact occurs. Moreover, the viewer’s vestibular sense is paralyzed when using the HMD while standing, so that his/her body is unsteady and in danger of collapsing. To solve this problem, we prepare a stable chair for the viewer to sit on while playing the movie.
Solution to Incompatibility with Other Devices
Parallel use of Oculus Rift and other devices is difficult because of incompatibility. Therefore, we produce a movie that has no room for the player to control. Other devices are unnecessary because the viewer does not have to operate a character to watch the movie.
4 Building a Stage
5 Direction of Horror Movie Using HMD
Using an HMD with a head-tracking system, we produced a short movie through Oculus Rift. We developed several gimmicks that take advantage of the features of the head-tracking system.
Leading the Viewer’s Eyes
We set the surround speaker system so that the sudden sound may also occur from behind the viewer. When the sound occurs behind the viewer, he/she is able to turn his/her head to see what is happening at the back of the stage.
Sense of Blockade
In contrast to watching a usual display, the scenery spreads out across an angle of 270° in Oculus Rift, and the audience feels an extreme sense of blockade when they are shut in a small space. People develop a sense of fear in such a closed and small space. In this project, the fear is directed by shutting the audience in a small elevator.
Height of Viewpoint
A comparison between Figs. 5 and 6 shows that a view from a low position gives the viewer a sense of expanse on the stage. Thus, the viewer senses that the viewpoint is weak. The height of the point of view is set to approximately 120–130 cm in this project.
Approach Close and Hand
A three-minute horror movie using HMD, which takes advantage of the features of the head-tracking system, was created. We sent questionnaires to the viewers after the viewing and obtained answers such as the following: “I experienced a highly realistic sensation that cannot compete with [the feeling from] any other conventional horror movie” and “I enjoyed the fearfulness of the unfolding actions as I changed viewpoints.” This production succeeded in evoking the characteristic fear that is induced by horror movies. However, further applications of the head-tracking function should be explored.
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