(In)visible Sound

Filmmaker Q&A with Director James Khoo

Is there a particular video, film, campaign or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Jean Renoir


What motivated you to make your virtual reality project?

We take so much for granted and I wanted to explore the Aural Aspect of VR to present what it’s like for Grace on a day to day basis. Hence, I pitched this story idea to Our Better World, a non-profit digital storytelling platform that produces stories from across Asia to inspire people to create positive impact in the world. Our Better World was commissioning a VR series on the theme of disabilities, with the aim of using this new immersive experience to build empathy with viewers. I was glad that they were excited about this story idea and commissioned this as one of its three stories in this series. The link to the series is found below:



Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

GoPro Fusion & Sennheiser Ambeo VR Mic


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your virtual reality video to help tell your story.

I worked with the producers from Our Better World to tell a VR story in a manner that was not the usual fly-on-the-wall observational VR experience, but one which told the story from a first person perspective to make the experience more immersive for the viewer.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

I’ve always had great respect for how people with disabilities have worked within the arts. So the most unexpected thing was working with the medium itself. I did a lot of experimentation to discover both the vast potential and limitations that VR lends to storytelling. It was quite an adventure getting things to work.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this virtual reality video.

Getting to understand the whole workflow and the viewer experience


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

Always build deep and trusting relationships with your subjects so that they will be as open to you as possible.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

Production itself because of the interaction and community of the crew and subjects.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

Coffee because I do suspect I have a minor form of Narcolepsy


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

Access Path Productions coordinates and facilitates the provision of community-based care and support via the arts to enhance the quality of every Singaporean’s cultural life. This is achieved by breaking down social barriers, challenging processes of art making and shaping avant-garde yet truthfully human experiences for and with local audiences.


What have you learned about the value and impact of the project?

In Singapore, where VR is still quite new for us, it is an experiential medium. My hope is that it allows us to be immersed into new perspectives that would otherwise be impossible. In this case, I could control the stimulus of surround sound and picture to enable new realities to be experienced, realised and shared. That helped me, and others, gain access into disability for what it is. I’ve been involved in disability in the arts for a while now and, with this new medium, I am glad to have presented a unique perspective that can be shared amongst us all, abled and disabled alike.

I was very encouraged when Our Better World conducted a survey and received very positive feedback from 328 viewers of this VR story. After watching this story, 90.5% were inspired to do more to treat people with disabilities equally in society and 85.6% felt more strongly about the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities. What touched me was someone mentioned that the VR experience made her feel like Grace and that she got a first person perspective of what she goes through. These good results show that the immersive experience has helped shape perceptions well.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this virtual reality video.

It was in the post-production stage that I realised that audio for VR is still a very grey and underdeveloped space. I had to learn a bit of programming, animation etc just to find the right settings for the proper VR experience.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

Empathy. I believe that disability is something that we all have in one way or another, however we define it, visible or not. And we shouldn’t hide it because it should be intrinsic to the way we express ourselves.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Disability and society, VR process


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

The situation in Singapore is a challenging one where there is the view that disabled people are tragic and are to be pitied, though it is in the process of becoming one where it’s more empowering for those with disabilities.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

Access Path Productions is always looking for volunteers and open to collaborations.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:

Link to the organisation’s website:


Link to the Our Better World VR series page:





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