Creating a Constellation of Stars in Virtual Reality
By Maureen Towey
Earlier this year, The New York Times Magazine followed three displaced children in a documentary-style virtual reality experience. For our next major foray into VR, we wanted to push to the other end of the spectrum and see if we could create something fictional. It seemed a natural fit to fold these efforts into our annual Great Performers portfolio, which celebrates the best performers of the year in photo, video and for the first time, virtual reality.
Our theme, “Take Flight,” would pay homage to the many ecstatic moments in film history when actors are airborne, from dancing on the ceiling to flying to the moon. We were excited about the way flying can translate into photo, film and VR. In photo, we capture our actors midflight. For video, we see them soar across the screen. In VR, we fly alongside them.
We reached out to the director-photographer Daniel Askill (known for directing the singer-songwriter Sia’s videos) because from examining his amazing short-form videos, it’s clear that flight is one of his favorite tropes.
The Times film critic A. O. Scott chose our featured actors. He looked for established stars as well as performers in breakout roles. Once we had our list of actors, we started crafting sequences tailored to them, all inspired by the cinematic moments of flight that we found in our research.