Oculus Rift, arguably the only tech device with any hope of taking virtual reality (VR) to the mass market, is now being used for movie production...
Virtual Reality (VR), long associated with the interactive experiences offered through video games, is seeking a starring role on the cinema’s big screen.
The head-mounted goggles developed by Oculus VR, the start-up that social media behemoth Facebook bought for US$2bn last year, was originally expected to attract early adopters in the gaming sector.
But even before it launches commercially, Oculus VR and its competitors are targeting the cinema and other entertainment industries. Oculus VR has appointed former Pixar executives to set up Story Studio, a movie studio and innovation lab that produces VR movies. Its mission is to demonstrate to film studios that their future is no longer dependent on only linear storytelling.
First off Oculus VR’s interactive drawing board is the animated movie short Lost, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Lost (see images below), one of 11 VR films showcased during the festival’s New Frontiers session, takes Rift wearers into the panoramic universe they are watching on the cinema screen.
And while all eyes are focused on Oculus VR, other start-ups and established conglomerates are also entering the VR entertainment fray or something similar:-
*Sony Computer Entertainment has been working on the prototype of an Oculus rival called Project Morpheus to play immersive 3D games on its Sony PlayStation 4 console.
*Microsoft’s HoloLens amounts to a pair of smart glasses that allows the viewer to interact with 3D content on PCs through the next Windows 10 operating system scheduled for a 2015 release.
*Samsung has launched the Galaxy Gear VR headset to see “the world beyond your peripheral vision.”
*Google Cardboard is a DIY headset designed to convert Android smartphones into VR headsets.
*ZeroPoint is a 20-minute documentary film specially made to be watched with an Oculus Rift by US-based Danfung Dennis, an award-winning filmmaker, Oscar nominee, photographer and software developer.
*US hiking boots brand Merrell has unveiled the Merrell Trailscape, “the first walk around commercial VR experience” created by ad agency Hill Holliday and brought to virtual life by Oscar-winning creative studio Framestore. As part of a promotion campaign, users are invited to wear the boots and go hiking on a (virtual) treacherously steep mountainside.
*Virtuix Omni is an actual treadmill configured to enable a gamer wearing VR goggles to move physically in the virtual world.
*Canadian tech company Cordon Media has raised more than US$72,000 on crowdfunding website Indiegogo to develop Pinc (pronounced ‘pinch’), a wearable tech VR headset made from a smartphone case.
*California-based start-up Jaunt, which raised US$27m-plus from investors, has started its foray into VR by developing an Android app that permits you to convert your smartphone device into a VR headset.