Number 34 and Number 27: The Count of Monte Cristo VR

An immersive adaptation of a pivotal chapter from Alexandre Dumas' classic adventure novel.

We are a team of creatives with a deep interest in the developing language of VR storytelling. We wanted to build an experience with simple constraints in order to play with the possibilities for narrative immersion during the telling of a great story. We selected this chapter as our first VR filmmaking project for several reasons:

1) The Count of Monte Cristo is timeless, classic adventure storytelling (and a public domain novel)

2) the chapter takes place in a single room over the course of several years -- since it's only in a single room, we can work within simple constraints

3) adapting a novel to VR could have legs beyond just a jam -- it could be a form VR users get interested in, or book publishers want to develop for

4) we want to learn how to tell great stories in VR, and already having a fantastic story to work with allows us to focus on learning the rules of how to make the VR experience enhance and complement dramatic narrative

We are building the adaptation with Unity and 3D animation in order to bypass some of the production challenges present in live-action VR film. Some of the challenges we're looking to solve:

-breaking down the lengthy chapter into a 5-7 minute experience that expresses the essential dramatic beats of the story

-deciding on the most effective way to capture Dumas' voice within VR, either by transplanting third person narration directly from the text (a la Bastion) or adapting the text to first person voiceover

-where to place the camera in order to convey the most dramatic, engaged, and immersive experience (in the corner of the prison cell, where you can view all the action, or in the center of the cell, where the action moves around you)

-how to choose the best techniques to express the passage of time (fades, dissolves, cuts, etc) while respecting the body

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