This week we checked out the latest in the virtual reality world. Although expectations may have been that I would end up in an embarrassed crumpled mess on the floor – like this poor guy:
… the resulting experience was dramatically different.
What we witnessed is tech that is on the brink of being able to create a totally immersive way of consuming content. The possibilities for the gaming market are obvious and already being explored to a certain degree. What’s intriguing is the ways we can explore narrative storytelling and other areas in the “non-fiction” space.
The ability to get up close and personal not only with a subject of a film but the ability to explore their world through “your own eyes” gives another dimension for an audience to learn about a character and their story.
This could be a game changer. What is it like on a boat full of refugees, being shelled in the heart of Aleppo or stuck in the jungle in Calais? It’s very difficult to honestly put yourself in these people’s position, VR has the ability to change that and drastically increase the impact ‘the news’ has on individuals.
As referenced in one of Samsung’s TV commercials this year, the ability to “be at” a concert or gig is quite remarkable and as artists opt for professional VR production of their gigs the popularity of this will grow. However even more powerful is the ability for a fan to be in the studio with their favourite artist, or have an individual performance being sung only to them, one on one.
As we grow more invasive and the audience demands ever increasing access to celebrity’s lives, creating VR content has the ability to transport any fan to be face to face with their idol. This has huge potential both for the celebrity and/or brands associated with them.
I think it is still a short way off becoming everyday mass market technology for film – the cost, size, comfort and audio of virtual reality would suggest we are a couple of product cycles away. I feel it is a chicken and egg situation with VR content producers and the VR audience. Would a brand/broadcaster/producer pay millions of pounds to create amazing content for a limited audience? Will the audience adopt VR if there is a lack of engaging, entertaining film and video?
Although the tech is certainly impressive and increasing possibilities to create captivating content I feel for the next year or two VR will remain predominantly for short form video and as an additional feature on larger projects. However with the rate at which things change and develop I think we will know by the end of 2017 if VR really is going to be the next big thing.