Volumetric video recordings of storytellers, when experienced in immersive virtual reality, can elicit a sense of copresence between the user and the storyteller. Combining a volumetric storyteller with an appropriate virtual environment presents a compelling experience that can convey the story with a depth that is hard to achieve with traditional forms of media. Volumetric video production remains difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, often excluding cultural groups who would benefit most. The difficulty is partly due to ever-increasing levels of visual detail in computer graphics, and resulting hardware and software requirements. A high level of detail is not a requirement for convincing immersive experiences, and by reducing the level of detail, experiences can be produced and delivered using readily available, nonspecialized equipment. By reducing computational requirements in this way, storytelling scenes can be created ad hoc and experienced immediately—this is what we are addressing with our approach. We present our portable real-time volumetric capture system, and our framework for using it to produce immersive storytelling experiences. The real-time capability of the system, and the low data rates resulting from lower levels of visual detail, allow us to stream volumetric video in real time to enrich experiences with embodiment (seeing oneself) and with copresence (seeing others). Our system has supported collaborative research with Māori partners with the aim of reconnecting the dispersed Māori population in Aotearoa, New Zealand to their ancestral land through immersive storytelling. We present our system in the context of this collaborative work.

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