Over the past month, Hollywood and the film industry has gone VR mad. Talent poaching, venture capital investment, virtual reality movie production, studios are racing to be first in the new storytelling medium. Here are three key points:
1) Entertainment brands invest heavily in VR
In July 2016, entertainment brands including Comcast, Fox and talent agency WME invested $43 million in VR ventures, setting off a frenzy for virtual reality content. HTC Vive X, the global VR accelerator, also offered $100 million for content creators, publishers, and startups.
2) Gold rush for creative talent
- Sony Pictures just promoted Jake Zim VR Chief at a major studio. Zim recently oversaw the VR experience “Ghostbusters: Dimension,” for Sony
- Oculus Story Studio hired Disney Pixar’s ten-year veteran Max Planck to create interactive virtual reality movies. Planck has already created three titles “Lost,” “Henry” and “Dear Angelica” and has a secret project on the way
- David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) has joined the Immersive Entertainment division at Lucasfilm, ILM’x xLab, to work on a virtual reality movie experience that will let viewers join in and be part of the Darth Vader story. “You are the visitor in this story that is happening in and around you, and to a certain extent, you might even have some effect on [the narrative]. The difference between cinema and television and VR — is that you really feel like you’re there. The sense of presence isn’t just a buzzword. It can make you sad, and make you lean in, and make you feel for a character in a way you haven’t before. In a way that you can’t really do in any other medium. And it can scare you. I’m really, really excited for a year [from now]. It’s pretty mind-blowing.”
Hollywood director Ivan Reitman, the 69-year-old filmmaker behind “Twins”, “Dave,” and “Ghostbusters” says “VR is remarkable. What it does is force you to bring yourself into the story, if you haven’t tried it, you just need 10 minutes with it to realise it’s an amazing experience.”
3) Interactive Cinematic VR as the holy grail movie ‘experience.’
Interactive cinematic VR is the holy grail, where you are not just a passive observer, but interact with the story, and influence outcomes. AFTRS, FSM and Start VR have created VR Noir, a first-ever virtual reality movie length detective series. In episode one, you take the role of a burnt out detective with a secret past.
VR is not the same as film. It’s a brand new medium, with an increasingly thirsty audience. Hollywood has stacked chips on the table and studios are redefining storytelling and media experience. Will demand for VR content reach the Everest heights of films and TV shows? These companies seem to think so. What do you think? Share your thoughts.