VR, AR Advance the Possibilities of Experience and Engagement

Virtual Reality Equipment at the 2016 NAB Show

As virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) have evolved as powerful storytelling platforms, new technologies are allowing content creators to develop innovative, immersive experiences. Explained Angus Kneale, chief creative officer of The Mill, a VFX and creative content studio owned by Technicolor, “With the VR experience, the way you can connect with the audience is so powerful.

“It is the one medium we’ve got now that completely overtakes your sight and sound,” said Kneale. When the viewer wears a headset and his or her peripheral vision is covered, you’ve got their full attention, he said. “You’ve got a captive audience, wearing headphones, so you are very close to the person’s senses. You have such power over their senses that you can take that person to places that they’ve never been taken before, because you’re utilizing two of the key senses that people have in order to take them on a journey.”

For this journey to continue, said Dann Saxon, head of content for VRLive, ongoing technological development is necessary. “360 video is transformative, but only with the addition of interactive features is it sustainable to the short attention span that consumers have evolved to,” he said. “CGI experiences in VR allow for the development of infinite new visual languages for storytelling.”

Malte Wagener, head of Deluxe VR agreed: “The rules for VR content creation are still being written since traditional conventions of filmmaking and narrative don’t fully apply. While live action 360 degree content provides an initial ‘wow’ factor, most existing experiences can only hold viewers’ attention for two or three minutes. Interactive, real-time rendered content requires high frame rate and fidelity to be watchable, let alone enjoyable, which means creators are dealing with technological challenges that require expertise from both the VFX industry and the game development industry to overcome.”

Saxon has sensed the interest “inside entertainment industry conference rooms to produce innovative and meaningful 360 VR content. The future of this medium is inevitable; the technology is literally getting better by the day. But the success of VR as an industry is only promising if the content creators focus on quality.”

Wagener said, “In the past year, we’ve already seen a clear trend among studios to look at VR and AR experiences — not only as a budget line item, but instead realize opportunities to create additional revenue streams.” “VR and AR experiences are being considered at the outset of a project and used to extend or connect universes.”

The Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion, which is sponsored by Technicolor and VR Live, features leading content producers and tech companies. There is also a busy session schedule that begins today and runs through Thursday.