Skip to main content

Students & Alumni

Emmy Invasion

September 17, 2018

Jeremiah Graves (’12) wins a Daytime Emmy for ASTEROIDS!, a VR, interactive short story starring two bumbling aliens.
Male student holding Emmy award
Jeremiah Graves holding his Daytime Emmy for ASTEROIDS!

“Eye contact is particularly powerful. There’s something magical and engaging about the simple act of having a character look at you.’”
— Jeremiah Graves

What did you win a Daytime Emmy for?

The category we (his company Baobab Studios) won for was “Outstanding Interactive Media”—Original Daytime Program or Series.

What did you think when you won it?

Of course, I was thrilled! We’re actually two for two now. Baobab won the previous year, in the same category, for Invasion!

How was the story created?

Coming off Baobab’s initial success on Invasion!, the team had a couple goals. First, to further explore the characters of the story’s bumbling aliens (who are called Mac & Cheez). Second, to give the user more of a role to play in the story. The pipeline we use is part feature film, part video game, and part just doing what we think will work (because there are no turnkey development solutions for virtual reality interactive short-form narratives)

How is telling a story in VR different?

First, the increasingly interactive natures of our stories present brilliant challenges. There is a seeming, but not insurmountable, conflict between the role of the storyteller and the agency of the user. We still don’t have all the answers to that, but Ron [FIEA professor Ron Weaver] teaches one of them: “Yes, and.”

Second, and you don’t really understand this until you first put on a headset, but the sense of presence in a virtual environment can be overwhelming. If you’re not careful, you end up developing content that users completely miss because, while you’re trying to tell a story, they’re distracted just being in the environment. Making sure the user feels connected to and engaged with our characters is one way we design against that.