When I was about to see Ctrl, a 20 minutes VR short, I expected something similar to what has already been released on the GearVR. The production, made by the four Londonians behind Breaking Fourth, is unusual yet immersive. While the app you will download is just a few MB, you will be asked to download the 1GB video at first launch.
I cannot say much not to spoil this short movie story, but what I can say is that the story follows Liam, a young and poor Londonian, on the finals to 25,000 pounds. The game he plays is a mix between chess and a shooter. It’s really great to look at him go, even though you don’t know what is going on really. As a viewer, you are put inside the virtual arena and screens all around let you see the commentators as well Liam himself. This is definitely an avenue e-sports can become in the next few years. The way they put the spectator inside the virtual world, leaving a window to the real world is a narrative Twist they manage to deliver. I found myself immersed in watching a live match. I’d watch DOTA2 tournaments, virtual sports games and other e-sports events like that.
The 20 minute movie will have you go through the 3 different stages of Liam’s finals, beautiful arenas that spans from a castle like terrain, to a rocky landscape. You will see other spectators looking around you. They are kind of creepy, but they add presence to the experience. You will also live everything that is going on at Liam’s house during the tournament. Liam is a good player, and could possibly win the championship. The climax is powerful and I’ll let you guys experience it by yourselves. Everything is narrated through the commentators, really good ones by the way.
On the down side, I must say I expected better quality out of the video. The action takes place mostly in a digitally created world but what are probably video compression artefacts seen on darker regions. The first five minutes are really dark, so it really bugged me at first. When the match starts, lights goes up and it becomes really nice to watch. I also got a few glimpse of stitching points problems. The most annoying is the one on your own body as seen below, but you don’t really have to look there anyway. The video playing on the screen is good enough to please the crowd; the story telling was strong enough to keep me immersed. In comparison to other videos, it’s really above most of them. The Cirque du Soleil video available on the Oculus Store for example, is really bad compared to Ctrl.