Virtual reality (VR) viewers are often transported to a place they've never been before or given an unusual experience, but a new 360-degree video, launched this week by BBC Taster, has used the medium to give audiences access to the stripped-back everyday experience of simply sitting with friends in a coffee shop.
No Small Talk, produced by Lyristic and VR City and commissioned by the BBC, lets viewers sit in on the conversations between TV presenter and journalist Cherry Healey and blogger Emma Gannon, as they discuss issues that affect young females, from marriage and feminism to the role of technology in their work lives.
Catherine Allen, executive producer, No Small Talk, explained that the project specifically targets millennial women, aiming to encourage them to switch off from the distractions of modern life and discuss the issues that matter to them.
"I hope young women will watch the video and feel inspired to have deeper conversations with their friends," she said.
"We wanted to work with Cherry and Emma because they had knowledge of the themes discussed, as well as a connection with the audience, but I think this format could work with a range of voices."
Allen noted that this unconventional style of 360-degree video might be a good way to get people to keep returning to immersive content, as opposed to having a one-off experience.
"We wanted to do this piece in 360-degree and VR because there's something you get from being present in a conversation – the social rules and norms from real life actually carry through into VR," she said.
"When I first bought a virtual reality headset, my instinct was to try things that I'd never done before, to seek thrills like roller coasters and try walking a tightrope, and although I think those spectacular experiences are really needed, I found the more I did it, the more I wanted returnable content.
"Something that can feel on the surface quite mundane, such as a coffee shop, is something that I can come back to again and again and again."
No Small Talk is available to watch on mobile and desktop, as well as on Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and YouTube 360.
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