Google Spotlight Stories: A Rapid Growth

  • Posted by info 24 May

Google Spotlight Stories: A Rapid Growth

Almost a year ago now, LoveLove Films wrote a blog about Google’s new Spotlight Stories project. At that time, the Spotlight Stories app for Android had just been unveiled, and the platform was being expanded to YouTube, previously exclusively available on Morotola’s Moto X since 2013.

The Rapid Rise

Users of the service could only speculate where it would go next. Now the platform has expanded to iOS and have just premiered their latest short, Pearl, at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The use of 360 degree videos and VR has skyrocketed in recent years, and the progression of the medium even in the last year has been noticeable- Tribeca Film Festival now includes a Virtual Arcade, and Duet, a Spotlight Stories short, was shortlisted for the Animated Short Film Oscar.

Spotlight’s first short, Windy Day, felt more like an experiment in VR and 360 video, gently guiding the audience into the world of VR using the story of a mouse in pursuit of a hat, and using the movement on screen to entice the audience into moving their phones about. Very little happened in Windy Day story-wise, but Spotlight’s shorts have moved forwards leaps and bounds since then, and their latest short, Pearl, definitely showcases this.

What Sets “Pearl” Apart

Spotlight Stories

Set entirely inside a hatchback, Pearl is a coming of age story based around a young girl and her father as she grows into an adult and inherits the car. The story is set to an original song, “No Wrong Way Home”, written by Alexis Harte and JJ Weisler, and is performed by Nicki Bluhm and Kelley Stoltz, who play the young girl and her father.

Pearl is absolutely heart-warming, and as the audience watch the video, they cannot help but be truly amazed by what VR can achieve for storytelling. Pearl makes the audience feel like they share the adventure that Sarah and her father go on, and has a real hallmark feeling at the end, making the audience themselves feel proud of the girl when she’s all grown up.

Shorts like Pearl show just how fluid storytelling can be with VR animation. Duet, which Disney animator Glen Keane directed, actually makes the audience choose which character they want to follow when the characters both go separate ways off screen, with a different story being told depending on which character you follow- one from the perspective of a young boy, and one from a young girl. Keane himself said that he “had a hard time giving up control […] of the camera”, but the audience controlling the adventure is part of what makes VR so great.

Spotlight’s progression has been helped greatly by its’ collaboration with major Hollywood stars, from Fast and Furious director Justin Lin, who created the first live action short for the platform, to Disney animator Glen Keane, who created legendary characters for films like the Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

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Outside of Short Films

VR and 360 degree footage has many potential applications, and brands and companies are also beginning to realise the potential that VR has- The North Face has created a VR experience to draw in their audience- those that seek outdoor thrills- and making them feel as though they’re climbing in Yosemite National Park.

GoPro Extreme has also made the leap into using 360 degree footage in their branding. Their video of a surfer was posted to Facebook by Mark Zuckerberg himself, and really draws on the “extreme” nature of the GoPro to display what both their cameras and 360 degree footage are capable of.

The Future

Particularly for media companies, VR and 360 degree footage can brilliantly display what your company is capable of in a visually stunning and exciting way. The ability to truly draw an audience in is perhaps the most amazing aspect of VR and 360 degree footage, and is a tool that companies can use to not only sell to an audience, but to amaze them too.

VR has already come so far since its inception, and its potential is limitless, Tech Crunch predicted that people will be able to experience everything through VR, and that it will be incorporated into your existing reality. VR seems primed to revolutionise the film industry, with major studios already experimenting with the technology.

Spotlight seems to be at the forefront of VR technology as it relates to short film, and to see what they will create next is definitely exciting.



Watch Pearl here :


Pearl Behind the Scenes:


Read the original LoveLove blog about Google Spotlight Stories here:

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