VR Diaries: Animation Brings Characters to Life in ‘Project Syria’

The most powerful part of the virtual reality experience, Project Syria, was when we were in the last scene and the narrator explained the number of people displaced in Syria each day. At first, I had no idea the human figures on the screen were multiplying. Once I really paid attention, I realized the figures were starting to fill up the screen. I thought it was such a powerful way to portray the narration. However, I did not like the fact that the transitions from one scene to the next were so abrupt. I wish they had been smoother by giving some narration cues. The transitions caught me off guard, which made me more concerned about the storytelling than being immersed in the story.

I felt the piece was able to clearly get its message across. It was a short story, but the length felt just right. I loved the use of animations instead of real people for this experience. I believe the decision to use animations were the right call on the producers’ end. The storytelling was short and straight to the point. I think the storytelling accompanied the visual scenes very well. However, I would recommend that next time the producers give a disclaimer in the beginning of the piece about the audio. I had no idea the audio was from real events until after the story was over. If I had known about the audio beforehand, I believe I would have felt differently about the piece, specifically the beginning.

I thought this piece was amazing, other than the disclaimer that was missing from the audio. I learned more about how displacement is a serious problem in Syria. I had no idea so many people had suffered because of the civil war. When I saw the little girl being blown up, it reminded me of a real video I had watched of people being blown up as they were walking down the street. Even though it was animated, the scene was still shocking. I believe this piece is one of the best ways to use virtual reality in order to tell a story.

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