Acting in Virtual Reality

Acting in Virtual Reality

Imagine watching an intense action film like Casino Royale or Goldfinger from eyes of James Bond himself. Having the ability to look around a scene in a virtual reality (VR) film and feel as if you are in the shoes of your favorite characters allows the audience to immerse themselves into a film like never before. This new form of filmmaking poses new challenges and opportunities for the cast of virtual reality movies. And being such an unprecedented role, VR actors and actresses are paving a path in filmmaking history.

During the production of INVAR Studio’s newest VR film, ROSE COLORED, actors and actresses have had to look beyond the basic ideology of traditional acting. In a traditional filmmaking, camera placement completes the task of guiding the viewer’s attention around a scene. VR films, however, allow the audience to physically move their head and, in turn, attention, 360 degrees around the scene.

“It’s like people watching,” says ROSE COLORED Director Adam Cosco about VR films. “And the audience has a very good BS detector,” which is why it is essential to have every line of dialogue perfected and every movement of the actors and actresses paid attention to.

ROSE COLORED stars Mariana Novak, Eva Hamilton, Adam Huber, and Jason Peter Kennedy. Full cast and crew on IMDB.

The lead actress of the film, Mariana Novak (pictured), met ROSE COLORED Director, Adam Cosco, at the VRLA conference last year. In getting to know Mariana better and seeing her audition tape, Cosco knew Mariana would be a perfect fit for the lead role in his upcoming VR film. Mariana has previous experience in virtual reality performances, so she needed little time to find her footing once the cameras started rolling.

“It’s more of a theatrical experience,” said Novak, “You have to be aware of your entire body – if you have a twitch in your foot, people will notice in VR.”

Director Adam Cosco added on saying “We NEED authentic performances. It must feel real to be accepted in VR; not hyper-realistic like we often see in traditional films.”

Acting in a virtual reality production poses new challenges for the actors that are unlike anything those with a traditional film background have experienced. For example, when filming point of view scenes, the actors wear camera rigs as seen below. With the heavy camera equipment attached to their head, actors are afforded a very limited amount head movement in the scene to ensure the viewer doesn’t get nauseous.

The helmet camera rigs were also used in a scene where Mariana’s character jumps off her apartment balcony and takes the audience along for the fall.
Another challenge that actors come across is that they have no way to playback and see the scenes after they are filmed due to the massive file sizes that 360-degree film requires. Despite these challenges, the cast and crew of ROSE COLORED were determined to do whatever it took to tell the best, most immersive story possible.

Virtual reality filmmaking invokes empathy in the audience by placing them quite literally in the center of a scene. This is a powerful tool that VR filmmakers like Cosco are working hard on to take advantage of.

When asked why she decided to get into acting in virtual reality, Mariana said “We actors are interested powerful stories and want to feel like we are doing something worthwhile with a great director. VR is the future, and we want to be part of VR history pioneered by artists.”

Presented by INVAR Studios

Produced by Elizabeth Koshy and Vincent Edwards.

Written and directed by Adam Cosco.

Creative Supervision – Alejandro Franceschi

VFX Work – DIGIKORE Studios

Full cast and crew at IMDB.


Patrick Bocchicchio is a third-year student at Pennsylvania State University studying finance and technology-based entrepreneurship. Pat joined INVAR as an intern in late 2016 and has since transitioned into his new role as Business Development Associate.