Ain’t no frame no more

For quite a few decades we have stared at a rectangle-shaped picture that moves. From photography to videography, the term frame directly referred to the dimensions we would look at, allowing filmmakers to create scenes with a distinguished point of view. The audience would only see a limited portrayal – an idealised display.

By Paul Troppmair

Foto: Gerhard Kassner / Monotype

But what happens if you break out of the restrictions of that rectangle and become an unframed storyteller?
Due to the technological development and the progress made in the field of VR, we have the opportunity to redefine our viewing habits and create new ways of how to tell a story. Filmmaker Gary Hustwit – who you may know from his design documentary »Helvetica«, that by the way celebrated its 10th anniversary in March this year – shared his most recent experience with the state-of-the-art media this morning. Considering himself not really as a designer per se, but more as a creator of a long-form piece of communication, the New York based filmmaker founded a new studio called Scenic that focuses on non-fiction virtual reality content. While most of the VR stuff, especially computer generated animations are aiming to create alternate realities, Hustwit and his collective of filmmakers want to use the potential to document our own.

VR is just fun to try.

Their explorations of new directions in terms of storytelling show some very interesting results: Because the frame has developed into a more theatrical scene, where the viewer can changes their position inside the setting, without a front or back, new rules apply. Visual complexity increases, at the same time the comprehension of a story decreases and it’s all about finding the right balance between story and telling. VR sets new parameters for the role of the audience and seems to prioritise the place setting a lot more than it used to be. The conversation with the viewer changes. Our brain processes information differently compared to watching a movie on your TV and the impression we get is a lot closer to real-life memory. Referring to this year’s theme »Wanderlust« Gary Hustwit presents his latest works in VR as a possibility of digitally going somewhere and underlines the media’s ability of designing actual experiences.


Gary Hustwit

Filmmaker (New York)

Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker and photographer based in New York. He is the CEO and Creative Director of Scenic, a virtual reality content studio focusing on non-fiction VR. Gary has produced 13 feature documentaries, including the design trilogy of Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized. His films have been broadcast on HBO, PBS, BBC, and television outlets in 20 countries, and have been screened in over 300 cities worldwide.

More Info