Building an immersive VR storyworld for
traditional spoken word narratives
Somthing old, somthing new
The aim of this project is to explore environments and mechanics for presenting indigenous vernacular stories in VR. Combining media and a number of techniques to explore ways in which to make these stories more accessible and engaging to a broader audience and to provide greater context to the audience by connecting fragmented but related stories.
Oral Storytelling and the “Seanchaí” (storytellers) have a long history and rich tradition in Ireland and this project will draw on some stories from Irish mythology to explore different approaches to storytelling in VR. One of the most epic mythological stories is “Táin Bó Cúailnge” (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). The Táin is older than the Viking Sagas is the oldest recorded spoken word story in Western Europe.
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The arrivial of the Mórrígan, as an introduction to the story. Much yet to do with lighing (a bit all over the place at the moment) and
I would like to thank Niall from PURE Marketing Innovations and the Drew family, in particular Cliodhna, the late great Ronnie Drew’s daughter, for granting permission to use the audio recordings of “Irish Myths & Legends” (Spotify Link here) as part of this academic project. Thanks as well to Fiachra of Irish Music Licensing for passing on my request.
The Morrígan or “Phantom Queen”. A central character in the story and environment being developed as part of this project (a demonstration of spoken word storytelling techniques in VR using Unity).
She was “Both a single deity and a triple goddess, made up of Ireland’s most powerful goddesses” and some consider her to be the origin of Morgan le Fay / Morganna from Arthurian legend.
Two central and related questions I will be addressing as part of this VR Experience are:
1) How one can move a typically non-diegetic element (the narrator) to a diegetic element in a VR.
2) Whether one can effectively employ mechanisms such as voice cloning / text to speech APIs for the voice of the Storyteller (and perhaps other characters).
The advantage of such an approach (Voice Cloning / Text to Speech) would be that the story script can be adapted, and new audio generated dynamically without the need for re-recording voice talent. Together with AI elements (voice interaction by the user and responses / actions / intents) decoupling these elements from the core environment built (in the case of this project in Unity means the story and AI can enhanced over time without having to rebuild and rerelease the experience as a whole.
A small video and some screenshots of the first forest scene dressed in Unity. In addition to the images presented in the mood board, I drew upon influences such as Gnomes and Goblins VR and the Forbidden Forest from Harry Potter. Plus, a bunch of other stuff including Excalibur (1981) and Merlin (2008 to 2012).
Yes, there are some post processing effects in there and I may need to dial back on the Chromatic aberration, bloom and field of view effects in VR as these will increase the latency significantly and may also make the user throw-up, but I suppose that is the basis of some kind of emotional connection to the content. 😀
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