This is a fabulous short animated film with Ian McShane playing an old Bristol Channel Pilot skipper (and Pilot) Wm Avery who feels washed up and unwanted in the age of steam. He’s on a solo passage to Fiddlers Green, beyond the western approaches when a girl, Lara Conrad played by Cathy Ang, falls off a steam-ship that has nearly run him down and they have a small adventure.
Directed by John Kahrs the free-to-watch film is also a virtual reality interactive movie, made by the group of technical artists from Google Spotlight Stories who are exploring the nascent technology of virtual reality using headsets, tablets (iPads) and mobile phones. So it offers a 360º immersive feel when you download the free app and watch it that way, but you can also just see it on Youtube or Vimeo and the storytelling is just as captivating. It does feel very different to watch a film where you turn the screen and you are seeing around the boat, or looking up at the sails or anywhere you want, while not missing the wonderful tones of Ian McShane’s old Captain as in rescuing Cathy Ang’s character he is rescued himself.
The artwork has a painterly quality, reminding also of woodcuts brought to life and the light and shadow and heaving sea scenes are really superb in their interpretive reality.
You’ll have to suspend disbelief at how an accident occurs – with such a well-found vessel at sea, but it does not detract from the charm of this 12 minute marvel. McShane and Ang perform a very good rendering of the old immigrant song Pretty Saro as well.
Here’s the story behind the making of this VR film.