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The Future of the Video Experience – Part II – Virtual Reality

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

3638850861_601332544eIn our second installment of “The Future of the Video Experience,” we’re taking on a piece of immersive media that, until recently, seemed revolutionarily strictly in the field of gaming. However, as this media has advanced, we’re learning how powerful this technology could really be for the world of video. That’s right; we’re talking about Virtual Reality.

Virtual Reality has been around for quite some time now, but its biggest advancements are just now coming to surface. From video games to communication to film, these headsets are slowly changing the way we consume multimedia.

What is it? What does it do?
Virtual Reality is by no means a new concept. Those of us who grew up in the early 90’s remember how badly we wanted Mr. Macintosh’s awesome Virtual Reality room from Disney’s “Blank Check.” However, back then, due to the infancy of the technology, you’d need that $1 million check (and a really ignorant banker) to secure a headset for yourself.

Virtual Reality headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift, allow the real-time movements of the user to be interpreted by their headset and create a virtual world for users to explore. This is a gaming medium that needs no controllers, no console, and no spot on the couch.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of this technology throughout the past decade or two. However, the potential of what it could do in coming years is revolutionary.

What could it do?
Many applications have been tested and executed with Virtual Reality, from gaming, to training aids, and now, even to news. In fact, Nonny de la Peña, also known as the “Godmother of Virtual Reality,” has been working and overseeing the construction of what she calls “Immersive Journalism.” The idea is that, when you consume news from conventional television news outlets, watching the events as they play out through the screen allows you to look at stories from a secondary perspective, which sometimes can make the important humanitarian issues miss with viewers. The purpose of Immersive Journalism is to allow viewers to experience a simulated version of what these stories mean for those they affect.

For example, Peña’s latest project, “Project Syria,” is an exposition of the ongoing disputes over in Syria. The project was unveiled at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where viewers could put on the Virtual Reality headset and were able to see, hear, and experience these disputes first hand, from a simulated environment replicating the streets of Syria. It was critically well received, and the project really looks to create an experiential impact on viewers.

However, news stations aren’t the only ones who benefit from immersive experiences. Even companies like Disney are looking into the possibility of Virtual Reality. Disney is allegedly looking to create virtual reality simulations of their parks, allowing users to put on their Oculus Rift and experience Epcot, Space Mountain, and all of their other favorites, without having to find plane tickets to Florida to do so.

Where is it at in development?
As described before, Virtual Reality has come a long way. However, these headsets are still a fairly new technology as far as commercial development is concerned, so there’s no telling when we will see a public release of the consumer equivalent. However, as it’s already done, the Virtual Reality headset is a game-changer for interactive media content and immersive media experiences.

You can learn more about Project Syria and Immersive Journalism here:

Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Part III of our “Future of the Video Experience” series, right here at PrimeauProductions.com.

photo credit: 3D via photopin (license)

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