The next frontier for media is 360 degree movies. This is not a theatrical play, but the newest thing in home video. In the next 12-18 months there are going to be literally dozens of virtual reality plays let loose on the consumer marketplace: Occulus Rift, Playstation VR, Samsun Gear VR, Microsoft Hololens, Google Cardboard, and a host of other compatible displays. This play is from consumer electronics companies (Sony, Samsung,) and technology companies (Microsoft, Google, Facebook) as well as the studios that recently invested $65M (Disney, China Media Capital, Evolution Media Partners).
Unlike the last few trends in media (3D and the looming 4K releases) the price points are far lower and more appealing to the general consumer. To jump on the 3D or 4K train, a consumer must spend thousands of dollars on new televisions, bluRay players, etc. The new VR devices cost anywhere from $500 down to just a $10 device that works with your smartphone.
When these consumer electronic devices hit the market there is going to be a huge demand for content. Good, Bad, it doesn’t really matter. Consumers will want content to use with their new devices.
VR is the new VHS. It is a low price point entry that will have a huge demand for content made for the platform.
Production studios must start now. It is a good mixture of technology and entertainment to make it an exciting and newsworthy investment.
First, let’s be clear. We’re not talking about real-time rendered CG. We’re talking about entertainment experiences that are filmed in the round (360 degrees as well as above and below the camera). We’re not talking about hundreds of animators, computers, thousands of man days, etc. We’re talking a film production and post crews in the dozens. We’re also talking about faster to market capabilities and less expense than what is currently being developed.
We will be developing live-action, immersive content that, while initially not interactive, still takes advantage of the platform allowing for full range of visual experience and immersion. Not a flat 2D image projected onto a virtual screen.
The content will become more and more interactive too. Already there is work being done by technology companies to allow interactivity with live-action content: content not 100% rendered on the fly by a game engine to allow for interactivity. This too should be a goal for future projects as the tech becomes more available.
The focus of the company needs to be inexpensive and fast enough to keep audiences entertained and satisfied while still remaining nimble enough to pivot as the environment continues to evolve. This was the mantra of the early days of the home video craze and needs to be the mantra of this new platform as well. A small startup can’t and should not focus on creating blockbusters and tentpoles for the platform. We will focus on creating a loyal, satisfied customer base first.