As the field of virtual reality becomes more pervasive, we are going to start seeing more new and creative uses for the technology. People are already making specialized virtual reality films to capitalize on the coveted space of being a trailblazer in the field. Just like in the early days of film, there is a race going on to see who can figure out the best and most popular way to get these types of movies out to consumers. Virtual reality movies promise to be a pretty big deal, so let’s take a look at what’s going on in that market right now.
How Do Virtual Reality Movies Work?
Virtual reality movies envelop you in a virtual world. This means you need a specific type of headset in order to properly view the virtual reality content. These headsets vary in quality and price depending on the type of virtual reality movie you want to view. Some simpler versions will convert your smartphone into a virtual reality viewing device, making this hot tech advancement available to the general public.
The Virtual Reality Cinema explains that their adaptation of the technology creates an immersive experience by combining the general headset tech with a specialized chair and high-quality headphones to truly transport their guests. While traditional movie theaters have patrons sharing in a collective experience, this virtual reality movie seems to be a bit more of an individual adventure. While people are often sitting in the same room, they are watching the film through a personal headset and in the case listening to the sounds through individual headphones.
What Types of Movies Are Being Made?
First, it’s important to clarify that virtual reality movies don’t mean they include feature films or Hollywood blockbusters. In fact, YouTube has an entire VR videos channel that displays videos specially made with virtual reality in mind. However, that is understandably limiting since there are so many videos already on the platform. Luckily, according to CNET YouTube made all of the videos on the platform available to a virtual reality audience back in 2016, “YouTube 11.18 for iOS, which adds support for Google Cardboard. Now anything on YouTube can be viewed in VR mode — even if it’s not a VR or 360 video.” This means that the entire catalogue of YouTube videos can be transformed into a virtual reality experience for viewers. It also means the capability to create unique videos that might look even better using at-home virtual reality headsets can now be created. As everyday innovators get creative (like they did with the now expired Vine videos) we can expect to see some interesting virtual reality applications.
On a bigger scale, there are high-budget productions being undertaken in order to show off the capabilities of virtual reality. VR Circle has a list of some interesting 360 degree virtual reality films that are out there. They range from an adorable movie about a porcupine named Henry to more sinister horror films. As the Financial Times notes, this tech is starting to get the film industry’s attention, “This week saw an Oscar nomination for a 360-degree animation, while several VR experiences are also winning plaudits at the Sundance Film Festival this week.” It isn’t just some fad either, virtual reality films are clearly becoming the favorite direction of a lot of film innovators, and more money is being put toward finding the most exciting ways to use film technology.
Blogger Niv Dror brings up a good point about why virtual reality movies are such a great use of the medium, you pretty much have to give it your undivided attention. While you are watching television or going to the traditional movies you tend to encounter a lot of things that are vying for your time and focus. With a virtual reality movie experience (when done correctly) you are absolutely surrounded by the film. You can’t easily do much else, and it might help you pay more attention.
What Is the Future of Virtual Reality Movies?
Well, as it is the future that does remain to be seen. Some virtual reality experts and insides have a few pretty interesting guesses about the direction the medium will take. For some excellent insight into the future of virtual reality, head over to MIT’s Technology Review where they interview Jessica Brillhart, who has the incredibly interesting job being the principal filmmaker for virtual reality at Google. One interesting prediction Brillhart makes is that virtual reality won’t take the place of every other film-related medium, “It’s not going to hurt any other medium. You’re going to see a lot of traditional-media folks trying to get it to work in their domain, and they may succeed in some ways, but in what ways I’m not sure.” That should give traditional filmmakers a bit of a sense of relief!
There are lots of applications for this exciting new technology, some for leisure activates and others for more practical and business-oriented purposes. Check back with us to see what’s new in the fields of VR, AR, and mixed reality and learn helpful tips to integrate these technologies into your everyday life and business.
What types of virtual reality films do you like most? Have you seen any especially exciting or unique applications? Share your virtual reality and film experiences in the comments below!
 It’s not going to hurt any other medium. You’re going to see a lot of traditional-media folks trying to get it to work in their domain, and they may succeed in some ways, but in what ways I’m not sure.