Virtual Reality (VR) is a very common theme in many sci-fi movies, where it is used to turn the fantastical in to something that looks and ‘feels’ very real.
Take the film TRON, this was one of the first films that used VR as the main plot point of the film. Other films include TRON Legacy, Vanilla Sky, The Matrix and more recently Ready Player One.
So could VR ultimately change the face of cinema in the next 10 years? In the hope that the format goes mainstream, Facebook, Microsoft and other technology giants have invested heavily in releasing their own headsets. Further to this, earlier in 2017, IMAX opened it’s first VR cinema in LA, whilst leading film festivals including Cannes, Venice and ones closer to home including Flat Pack (Birmingham), all have sections which are dedicated to this media and format.
Wouldn’t the social experience be different if the audience were all wearing immersive headsets and in their ‘own world’? Yes, the impact of this technology is incredibly powerful but one of the draws to cinema is the social experience – plus, how would you go about eating your popcorn or sipping your drink? Even so, industry giants are embracing this challenge.
In many ways, VR today is very much like the early days of cinema. Filmmakers tried to replicate the experience of the stage, whereby the camera would be positioned where the audience would sit if given a front row ticket. The power of cinema language and art of cinematography took a while but it enhanced the experience of the viewer. Similarly, VR is following the same path – 360 degree shots of the same 2D film, following very similar rules. These VR experiences tend to reflect the rules of the cinema and film, rather than expand on it. Could, therefore, the future be watching TV at home with Microsoft HoloLens and responding to a augmented reality character on the screen – something like Joi (Blade Runner 2049), whereby a character is able to interact with you realistically. One of the founding members of the Oculus Story Studio, Edward Saatchi suggests that:
“I could see a world where the GUI [graphical user interface] for spatial computing is not Minority Report or even HoloLens,” Saatchi said. “It’s called spatial, meaning 3D. So what do I get information from that’s 3D? People. Instead of the GUI being tied to the mouse and keyboard or a touchscreen, it might be an interactive character, like Alexa and Siri.”
So what about the use of marketing, where does VR fit in?
There seems to also be a recent inclusion of VR in the way in which films are marketed. Take, as an example, Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ film …
In a dystopian future, people spend most of their time in a virtual-reality world called the OASIS. After its creator (Mark Rylance) dies, he reveals he will leave his fortune to whomever can find a hidden Easter egg. Poor teen Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) unlocks the first key to its location, making him a target for an evil corporation also seeking the prize. Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Letitia Wright, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Lena Waithe co-star. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Based on Ernest Cline’s novel.
…”Ready Player One” teamed up with HTC Vive to create 8 immersive worlds (https://www.vive.com/us/newsroom/2018-03-09/). At its World Premiere, at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin (TX), the VR experiences gave audiences the opportunity to experience the OASIS for themselves. The exhibition was transformed in to the ‘Stacks’, which was the habitable area in the film. 80’s pop culture references were littered around the area to support the building of the surrounding world.
One of the must see VR experiences is the IT:FLOAT VR Experience (https://youtu.be/3bDTSzavYdE), which puts you at the centre of some of the most scariest IT scenes and locations.
I see the immediate future of VR being within the marketing arena, but if VR interest and content continues to develop we could see an additional release window being added as part of PVOD.
This post was written by noxford