The dog's eye view

UX | VR

Most people do not understand what rescue workers go through. Nor do people spend time seeing the world through the eyes of a dog that is in need of rescue.

 

Also, many rulebooks and filmmakers in virtual reality will tell you to not move the camera around, to maintain a person's sense of self, and let the viewer be a passive observer.

 

So here is a piece that breaks all of those rules.

 

Please be advised that my colleague, Thomas Wucherpfennig, and I, know what we are doing and that this was originally published in the Peninsula Press. Links to the media can be found below in the footnotes.

 

Please be also advised that if you are to view the videos on your phone it is best to hold your phone sideways before clicking play.

The goal of this piece is to bring attention to the needs of pet owners, pets, and the rescue workers who protect them in disasters. This is especially important as, sadly, disasters are becoming more and more frequent. Communities across the country are making progress toward implementing the necessary infrastructure and planning to address these needs however there is still more work to be done. In the meantime, we can meet our local rescue workers and make a plan for what to do in case of a disaster to make sure that everyone is prepared.

 

Which is what this video is really about.

 

We wanted to give people a visceral understanding of what their world is like and what to expect. VR studies have shown that this medium is best to evoke empathy and provoking call to action from viewers.

 

The first goal was to meet with local rescue workers from the fire department and the animal shelter and fully understand the world they live in. We got a crash course in performing animal CPR and got to spend time in the surgery suite for wild animals. We worked with them constantly through research as well as filming on location with them.

 

The challenge is how to translate the experience they have, into a cohesive story board. We decided that viewers need to inhabit the body of a dog named Gus. The viewer can then see how his story unfolds over six key events from rescue to reunion. Details are color coded in black, stage direction is in blue, and audio is in green.

We pitched the story board to our local rescue workers and then worked with them to modify and change it as needed. The end result turned out to be more realistic, and allowed the rescue workers to act from the heart.

 

We then got excited to film dogs, so the first thing we went out to do was film dogs.

 

If there is one thing to take away from all this, it is to test, test, test, try, try, try.

 

"How cool would it be if the person looks down and sees this dog body?"

"Ok well we can't control a real dog, and I don't think we're allowed to do CPR on one." Cool opportunities require quickly realized solutions. Not only did we build a special harness for a dog to wear a 360 camera but we also did some tests where the viewer has a body of a stuffed animal. Links to these tests are below in the footnotes: highly recommend them, they are great.

 

My job in a lot of my projects is to figure out how to tell a story to people, through what ever medium, product, or service makes sense. What I have since started to teach is how to fully appreciate and understand another's perspective and fully submerge into their world. To really capture the heart of their truth, and show it in a story.

Footnotes:

>> You can see the published piece here.

>> Of course we did tests by strapping a camera to a puppy. Watch them here.

>> Watch the first test we did with a stuffed animal.

>> Watch a tutorial climbing video on creating dynamic VR pieces.

+ Role: User Research, Story Boarding, Filming, Editing

+ Done in collaboration with the Palo Alto Fire Dept., the Peninsula Humane Society, the SPCA Adoption Center, and Sharon.