THE THRILL OF VR - WILL IT BE THE DOMINANT ART FORM OF THE 21ST CENTURY?

Written by Fred Bailey

2/22/17

You know what Virtual Reality is. A fully-engrossing simulation technology that replicates an environment—real or imaginary.  It creates an immersive artificial sensory experience that stimulates the user as she interacts with it.

Is VR a genuine breakthrough, something with staying power—or is it a flash in the pan, something with a short shelf life, like the comings and goings of 3D over the years?

Some people find 3D movies irritating because of the glasses you have to wear.  Likewise, with VR, some people are not going to enjoy wearing the required HMD (Head-Mounted Display), once the novelty of the experience wears off.

The concept of VR has been around for decades.

Remember the Power Glove?  Originally released in 1989, it was a game controller accessory, an early stab at VR.  The slogan went, “Now you’re playing with power!” 

The public was told the glove was going to change everything.  It didn’t.  It was inexact and hard to manipulate.

But that was then.  This is now.  The technology has advanced in huge leaps and bounds.

At the Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival, sponsored by Hanhai Studio last December, we got a glimpse of the future.

Zvi Greenstein, general manager of NVIDIA, where he leads VR business development, told us in his keynote, “We need a wire-free system.”  And it’s on the way.

Max Epstein, VP at DMG Entertainment, in his keynote said VR’s promise is “an extraordinary experience with interactive mechanics that further the narrative.”

And that’s where it’s at:  Using VR to enrich the Story…and vice versa.

David Attenborough was host of LIFE on BBC.  His First Life VR and Great Barrier Reef Dive are short VR adventure/documentaries, currently showing at the Natural History Museum in London.

Attenborough says, “We’re on the brink of a simply enormous change in visual communication.”

A growing number of VR production companies are sprouting up in California, among them: Oculus Story Studio, Vrse.works, Jaunt, VR Films, and The Virtual Reality Company. 

Because of the newness of VR as a medium, nobody has all the answers.

Which makes this a supremely exciting time to explore, experiment and discover. 

“This is going to change everything…  

The potential of virtual reality is truly limitless.”

—Rob Stromberg, director, Maleficent 

now Chief Creative Officer, The Virtual Reality Co.

     The Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival held at LA River Studios in Los Angeles in September of last year.

     The Kaleidoscope VR Film Festival held at LA River Studios in Los Angeles in September of last year.