Downtown LA is under alien attack and you get to witness it in glorious 360-degree video in Google Spotlight Stories’ first live-action adventure Help. Directed by Fast & Furious’ Justin Lin, this adrenaline-fuelled adventure whisks you around the city streets as a meteor shower brings an alien invasion to Earth’s doorstep.
With 360-degree video opening up a wealth of opportunity in the news and documentary arena, we’re yet to really see this new technology pushed to its limits in the world of fiction – until now. What Help lacks in story (it essentially feels like a scene from a computer game), it more than makes up for in production and innovation and as a result Lin’s 5-minute film has to go down as one of the most immersive narrative experiences we’ve ever witnessed here at Short of the Week HQ.
Though the 360-degree nature of the project does work in a browser (by clicking on the directional arrows in the top-left corner), to truly absorb yourself in the complete experience of Help it has to be viewed over mobile (preferably with a VR viewer – I used Google’s Cardboard). It may take you a little time to work out where to direct your focus (I went for the opposite direction everyone was running), but even this feeling of not always knowing where to look next heightened the tension and unease that’s essential for this project to really succeed.
Help does somewhat go against our traditional curatorial brief of story first and technology second, but in this case the craft and innovation on show just felt too important to ignore.