Virtual reality trends and technology are evolving rapidly, and as VR advances, storytelling will go way beyond the confines of traditional storytelling.
There’s obviously immense potential for filmmakers to capitalize on the growing capabilities of virtual reality to create an unprecedented level of immersion for viewers. Imagine a movie in which you are playing the part of a character and seeing the events through his or her eyes.
Watching movies in 3D is probably the extent of the VR experience most of us have had to date. Clunky headsets, having to set up movement tracking devices and logging on to a computer are some of the problems associated with current VR.
The Oculus Rift is a vastly improved headset with great visual resolution, but it requires a state-of-the-art PC system with graphics capability, and you do need some technical savvy to use it.
Virtual reality is still more of a curiosity than something with genuine mass appeal, but the landscape is changing. From rather poor early attempts, filmmakers are also beginning to figure out how to make it work.
New ways of delivering content and experiences
At Oculus Connect 3, Mark Zuckerberg revealed Facebook’s VR prototype. It makes you feel as though you’re in the same space as your friends who are represented as avatars with emotional responses and realistic body language. Filmmakers, too, have to be open to new ways of delivering content and providing immersive experiences for audiences.
A VR movie highlight at the Sundance movie festival was Dear Angelika. According to Jim Parish of Movie Review EssayGeeks.co.uk Service, it was not only a great technical achievement but a sign that filmmakers are taking steps towards a new type of expression.
The story evolves all around the viewer, as the young woman reminisces about her late mother, effectively combining fiction and art. It’s another offering from the Oculus Story Studio and was draw inside VR by illustrator, Wesley Allsbrook, using a program called Quill. Wesley’s movie won a major award at Raindance in October 2017.
VR at Film Festivals
Shooting in VR still has many technical challenges, but Tribeca Immersive 2018 gave a good idea of how VR/AR could start being implemented in the next few years – an AI controlling a VR film’s story, virtual activism, holograms and powerful 360-degree camera tech.
VR experiences were also stars of CinemaCon this year, and Imax and Warner Brothers have announced that they are partnering up to create VR experiences for Aquaman and Justice League.
London’s Raindance Film Festival has been pioneering VR since 20013. In 2016 they launched their VRX Awards, and boast one of the finest collections of VR experiences anywhere.
Evolution of direct-to-consumer ecosystems
The rise of direct-to-consumer ecosystems, such as Netflix and Amazon, is having an impact of filmmaking.
Film students are already being taught how to work with these ecosystems as traditional business models change, affecting production, marketing, and distribution. The natural desire to watch movies at home and have an experience that’s like being in a theatre makes VR the logical progression for home theatre.
More collaboration across disciplines
In 2018, more collaboration will occur between creatives, artists, engineers and data scientists. Talented individuals will be recruited from all kinds of other disciplines to collaborate in creating a new type of immersive movie experience.
VR from the inside out
Current high-end headsets have sensors on the outside of the device. They allow the individual’s head and hands to be aligned within the virtual space. What this means is that the VR experience can only occur in a defined space and when the user steps outside of this space, VR does not function.
A new generation of headsets will feature inside-out technology. Sensors will be inside the headset so the environment around it will be scanned, placing users in a virtual space that’s infinite. These inside-out capabilities are likely to become the ultimate way to consume entertainment and content.
Total sensory immersion.
In the future, movie experiences will not be limited to the auditory and visual senses. The goal of many VR teams is to create a full sensory experience where all five senses are used. Some businesses are already providing this type of interactive experience for clients.
Sensiks, for instance, has sensory reality pods and users are able to have audio-visual experiences accompanied by vibrations, tastes, temperature, airflow, light frequencies, and scents.