Telling stories just got easier

Holding a cardboard box against my face in a way that positions a smartphone two inches from my eyes, Google transforms the computer in your pocket into a virtual-reality headset. It’s something of a gimmick. But it’s also a serious attempt to create a new mass communication and entertainment medium. “Virtual reality will have an important role to play in entertainment, communications, work, and learning,” says Clay Bavor, who leads Google’s virtual-reality project. “Cardboard will be the way that we make these immersive experiences available for everyone.” Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, also thinks virtual reality will change the world, “the next major computing and communication platform,” a very serious claim in Silicon Valley business-speak. In 2013, Facebook spent $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a company developing a sophisticated virtual-reality headset called the Rift that is held to your face with a thick elasticated strap and attaches via a cable to a powerful PC. The Rift is on sale now. I am not exactly sure, but via Amazon, you can pick it up for $ 1500usd.The version that until recently was available to developers cost $350usd, and an Oculus- approved PC to power its forthcoming headset cost around $950usd. Facebook has also collaborated with Samsung on a $99usd headset called the Gear VR, which can use some Samsung smartphones as a screen, and boasted that it will widen virtual reality’s audience this way.

In contrast, Cardboard works with iPhones and almost any phone running Google’s Android software. Google has released the design of the Cardboard phone holder for free, and other companies sell versions for $10usd, or more if you want one in plastic, metal, or wood. Google estimates that it and other companies have sold or given away more than a million Cardboard kits. Last year the New York Times sent out over a million more to its subscribers, to promote a virtual-reality documentary on children displaced by war. Google has also begun sending Cardboard kits to schools with a special version of the app that lets a teacher take a class on a 3-D tour of a coral reef or Machu Picchu.

The future never looks brighter. Telling stories just got easier as developers push the limits on video experiences, and as filmmakers, we are given so many new and exciting options to get our content out there. One thing is for sure, however, that Imax experience continues to take your breath away, as long as those experiences are real and not from the visual effects arsenal. Take a look at the new James Bond film for example, with a world record for the biggest explosion ever. Goes to show that things never looked more real in today’s fast-moving world.

The thing that we have learned after many hours of research and development, we won’t be early adopters, however, as we’ve tried getting clients on-board, and even tried with the VR drone material. What we have found, however, is that clients do not want to take risks, they prefer a safe bet in this fast moving world of change, where advertising dollars are increasingly becoming spread thinner, as more options appear. Even though telling stories just got easier clients are harder pressed to maintain the norm in many ways, and not to step outside acceptable reality, no matter how good it looks.

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