Is this film your first time working with VR?
Strictly speaking, this is my third time. But I think that this is my first true experiment with VR. Before this film, I have used VR to capture the Wangye boat burning festival, but I have not completed the post production. At that time, it was more of understanding the technical aspects. This film was my first real try at using VR and its 360 degrees filmmaking to tell a story.I had limited experience with VR. My initial impression was that VR would be suitable for filming documentaries, so I tried putting VR and documentary together. The aim of documentaries is to see and present reality to the audience. At that time, I thought using VR to film documentaries would be a breakthrough since the audience would be fully immersed in that reality, as though they are at the documentary location.
嚴格來講是第三部，不過它比較算是我第一支正式的VR。在這一部之前，我有拍一些像是台灣的燒王船的慶典VR，但是我也沒有真的把它剪出來，因為那時候還在技術層面的理解，而這支是我真正用 VR 或 360的思維真正在嘗試怎說故事。我接觸VR的時間不長。起初會接觸它也是因為它跟紀錄片本身是很適合的。我想嘗試把兩者結合看看。拍紀錄片其實就是希望把一個真實的故事透過影像來觀察、呈現給觀眾。 那當初就會覺得用VR 來做紀錄片可能是個突破，本來做紀錄片是要讓你體會到真實，透過VR就讓你彷彿在整個紀錄片的第一現場裡頭。
What do you think is VR’s role in filming future documentaries?
I think VR itself is very suitable for documentaries. Let me give you an example. We might not be able to have first-hand experience being at the ground in the Syrian Civil War, the border issues between Mexico and the US, or even the issues in China and Hong Kong. We could feel pain over these issues but it’s still very difficult to know how it feels to be in the shoes of those who live there. This is why I wanted to focus on overcoming one challenge, which is how far I can go in simulating that feeling of being there. With traditional documentaries, what I feel is mostly because of how I can relate to a certain character. But this emotion is what I project on myself based on what I see with others. But I think even by its first scene, VR will enable us to feel like we are a part of them. If I can make some Taiwanese and international audiences to wear the VR goggles, it would really feel like they are with them. I think the atmosphere they experience is completely different from photographs or film.I think the challenges now with VR is if there is any way to make post-production more efficient, and if there is any way to the goggles more comfortable.
其實 VR本身是非常適合紀錄片，我舉個例子，可能現在敘利亞內戰發生， 美國墨西哥的問題，甚至中國跟香港問題， 這一些事情，我們可能並不是第一現場者。 我們會對這一件事情心痛，會有點感受但是我們可能並沒有辦法真的完全用一種換位思考方式去說原來現場是這樣。所以當初我只想要挑戰一件事情，我有沒有辦法把真實的事情推到極限。一般傳統紀錄片，我再怎麼感動， 我感動的原因是因為我認同這個主角。但是這種感動是我看別人而投射在自己。 但是我覺得其實做VR的第一現場， 你開始會覺得你跟他們是一樣的。 如果我可以讓一些台灣的觀眾和各國觀眾戴上頭盔，就真的像在現場，我覺得那個氛圍跟你去看人家拍的照片跟影片是完全不一樣。現在的差別可能是在有沒有辦法去突破後製處理效能消耗。 有沒有辦法讓戴頭盔的人更舒服。
How long did the entire production process take?
Actually my producer has been involved with this short for a long time. In fact, “My Syrian Neighbour” started out as a traditional documentary. Before applying for Kaohsiung Shorts Grant, there were already two years worth of pre-production.