30 Mar 2016

How The Rise Of Virtual Reality Is Going To Change Hollywood


@itguy113 called it on Twitter late last year, and Bernie, we can’t help but agree with you!

The film industry has been sitting on the periphery of massive change for some time now – and as the evolution of virtual reality continues to grow at rapid speed, so does the belief that things are about to transform wildly in the movie biz.

Imagine the scene: you’re settling down for a nice movie night at home. The popcorn has just come out of the microwave, the pizza is about to turn up at any second, and Lord Of The Rings is paused on the opening credits.

Only, instead of watching through a screen, YOU are Frodo, with the entire story virtually unfolding around YOU.

YOU’RE the one tasked with taking the ring to Mordor. YOU’RE the one facing an army of Orcs. And YOU’RE the one being followed around by an unpredictable Golem. It’s all happening to YOU, through your eyes, entirely in first person.

In the new virtual reality-led film industry, it’ll be all about you. You are Harry Potter. You are Batman. You are Luke Skywalker.

Of course, we’re not quite there yet, with many devices still not available on the commercial market, but right now, a new dawn of hyper-immersive content seems to be erupting on the horizon

At this year’s Sundance festival, for instance – one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world – more than 30 virtual reality projects were showcased.

It was indicative of the direction we’re heading in, with companies like Samsung (who were behind a wide range of VR material for the festival), playing a significant role in the transition from screens to virtual experiences.

Equally as pertinent, giants such as Google and Facebook are heavily backing VR projects, with Magic Leap and Oculus Rift respectively.

Even blockbuster directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are getting excited about the rise of virtual reality – discussing what a movie industry without screens might look like at events and Q&As.

Incidentally, Spielberg sits on the advisory board of The Virtual Reality Company, one of the most authoritative forces in the VR space, and is working with the company on some exclusive VR projects.

With someone of Spielberg’s stature taking such a keen and hands-on interest in VR, it seems only a matter of time before we see some significant breakthroughs in the movie industry.

Aside from film production, we’re already thinking about how epic VR will be in the concert world. The heartbreak of missing your favourite artists perform, because you can’t get tickets, will never be as brutal ever again. After all, we’ll be virtually watching Kanye West at The O2, weeks after he’s gone back to the States.

Going back to the movie business, though – sure, there are still numerous obstacles to overcome before virtual reality takes over Hollywood: how much freedom the audience can realistically have within VR film experiences, for example, without detracting from the core story narrative, is one of the major debates happening.

But, as the technology evolves, and the most influential minds in the industry continue to carry the baton, we’ll all be setting off on a personal voyage to Mordor before we know it!