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Virtual Reality: The Next Form of Entertainment, Profit?

7 Jan, 2016 By: Stephanie Prange

Samsung's VR demo at CES

LAS VEGAS — Panelists mulled the promise of virtual reality entertainment at a Digital Hollywood panel Jan. 6 at the Consumer Electronics Show.
They discussed both the commercial and artistic promise of VR during a session called “Virtual Reality — Hollywood Does Cutting Edge.”

When the viewer has control over where to look (and perhaps what to do and where to move), how does the creative team direct the story?

Panelists said that question has yet to be answered. It’s possible the ultimate product is a hybrid of linear and VR segments, where certain portions of the entertainment content are linear storytelling while others, perhaps action sequences, immerse the viewer in virtual reality.

Moderator Seth Shapiro, governor of interactive media for The Television Academy, noted the younger generation is primed for VR and that kids are so used to interactive content that they often try to swipe the TV.

Andy Cochrane, a filmmaker currently working at Mirada Studios, said VR demands a different approach from filmmakers. VR isn’t 360 degree video; the narrative changes when the viewer can take control and look around, he said.

“What’s going to get left behind is a lot of traditional thinking,” he said.

Aaron Koblin, co-founder and CTO of Vrse, left Google to pursue VR. He called it a “visceral experience” with “technology lifting up the ability to tell a story.”

Cochrane said that when he went to film school, he felt that much of the innovation had already been achieved. “It sucked that all of the really cool things had happened,” he said. But he said that VR allows for a new wave of innovation in entertainment.

Ted Schilowitz, a futurist with 20th Century Fox, said it would allow entertainment to “break out of the rectangle” of theater and TV viewing.

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