Bachelor - Breathing in Virtual Reality



July 2018

Cinema 4D | Unity | C#


Spirited Away is an animation movie of the well-known director Hayao Miyazaki. We follow Chihiro, a 10 year old girl, on her journey through a fantasy world that holds a lot of obstacles for her. A famous scene out of the movie, where Chihiro steps on a train to get a cure for her friend Haku, is known for communicating a lot of emotions even though there is not a lot of character movement or conversation. „Ma“ is how Miyazaki calls the calm throughout the 2-minute train ride. In my Bachelor Thesis I explored how emotions can be conveyed in movies in comparison to virtual reality. Deriving of my thesis, I visualized the outcome in my project "breathing in virtual reality".

The scene was mainly recreated in virtual reality as it appears in the movie. There's a flickering light across the user, which indicates that he/she should stand up, which triggers the aesthetic of the scene to change. The light turns darker and piano music starts playing.
Throughout my thesis research I figured out that emotions can be conveyed in movies in the best way through empathy. Empathy in movies can be compared with Immersion in Virtual Reality and is supported by music and lighting. To achieve the best immersion, the user has to have the impression of actually being in the scene. This was achieved through running a lot of tests to get a realistic dimension of the room - furniture and environment seem to have actual size as they would have in real life. There's a clear difference between lighting and color, which awakens two different emotions for the user.

Below you can see the process from designing, rendering and the final outcome. It was displayed at Merz Academy on the 21st of July 2018. The feedback was positive and gave me ideas for future projects.