Alex Rühl discussed her journey from 2D film-making to virtual reality (VR) at an RTS East event in December at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.
Rühl was a traditional TV producer until she picked up her first 360-degree camera rig in 2015.
At the RTS event, which was held in collaboration with Cambridge research institute StoryLab, she talked about her short VR film, Keyed Alike, which was produced and written by Rühl, directed by Chloe Thomas (ITV historical drama Victoria) and stars Gemma Whelan (HBO’s Games of Thrones). It is a love story about two women who meet on a London riverside covered in love locks.
Keyed Alike has been showcased at film festivals and art galleries worldwide, and is distributed by the content platforms Jaunt, Inception and Digital Domain.
Rühl shared her insights on the challenges of shooting a VR film, particularly in terms of producing, directing, framing and editing.
The audience – a mix of experienced producers, and students and academics from Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge University – were keen to discuss the potential and limitations of VR as a new way to tell stories.
Rühl’s next project, Playing God, which is supported by Arts Council England and directed by Ben Fredericks, is an interactive, fact-based VR experience, posing the audience ethical questions about how it would react to a real-life refugee crisis.
However, the real challenge with VR films is to improve the audience experience. Rühl handed out VeeRmini-foldable glasses for the audience to use with VR material sent to their smart phones. Following the event, the audience were given the opportunity to try a variety of headsets in the Ruskin Gallery.
Rühl has founded her own VR production studio, Cats are not Peas, which made Keyed Alike.