Cinematic VR: Innovations in film making and viewing experience

What is Cinematic Virtual reality (CVR)? How will it change a film’s storytelling methods and experiences?

Our tryst with storytelling experiences generally starts as a kid when our grandmothers used to take us in a magical story world with her intriguing narrative. As we grow up, we satiate our appetite for a good story via cartoon films, books, films, binging television shows and even gossip! Even though the basic concept of storytelling remains the same, the formats and tools that are being used to create a captivating and engaging experience as well as distribute them to the audience have changed. 

Films and TV shows are nowadays our go-to content for good stories owing to the high quality of on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. These services have changed TV viewing habits completely and have provided many more options of one to one engagement. Bring in virtual reality and a lot more possibilities open up. In this article we shall be looking at three aspects of cinematic VR, first, the film making process itself, second, type of content that can be provided to audience for an immersive experience and third, the distribution of the CVR content.

Cinematic VR in the film making process is going to become a game-changer

Virtual reality in film making or now as it is being called Cinematic VR opens up many possibilities and allows filmmakers to get creative with their storytelling process and narrative. The first and the most basic method of implementing VR in film making is shooting a 360-degree film and providing its access via virtual reality headsets. When we say a 360-degree film, people are most familiar with a 2D 360-degree film which can only be viewed from the viewer’s vision as being the pivot point while the HMD device. However, industry specialists do not consider this as cinematic virtual reality as the person himself is not a part of that motion picture experience but is just viewing. Here we bring in stereoscopic VR as another applied method in cinematic VR film making process, where filmmakers can shoot three-dimensional images which then become a part of a virtual experience and provides a complete 3D 360-degree experience.

Another method of using Cinematic VR is that virtual reality at the current stage of development works with avatars of people, so a filmmaker is shooting a film with avatars and animated 3D characters, he may not even need to call the actors physically to the shoot location. All of it can happen in VR itself and from the comfort of their homes!

Cinematic VR also comes in play when filmmakers are shooting for VFX. GIn present reality filmmakers use green screens to shoot in the production phase and VFX is done is the post-production stage. While using green screen most of the shoot by the camera person is done while imagining what element would be put where in the post-production stage. With shooting in VR, camera persons will be able to see the VFX effects through their cameras itself while shooting, hence, essentially the post-production activities will happen during the production stage itself.

Cinematic VR will bring futuristic, immersive content and allow for real-time engagement

When viewing films in virtual reality, 3D 360-degree immersive content allows the user to have an experience of being a part of the film narrative itself rather than just being a viewer. Filmmakers have the scope of making their film content interactive in virtual reality. With greater use of stereoscopic filming and innovations in usage of virtual reality, filmmakers will have a choice of embedding real-time engagement in the movie itself. Wouldn’t it be great to take the story in the film where you want with the outcomes you wish to have?

Distribution of cinematic virtual reality content

Distribution of VR films in future will happen either via on-demand video platforms like Netflix or free platforms similar to YouTube. Production houses will also have an option of tying up directly with virtual reality software companies for integrated services.

Example, Even though not full-fledged films, Facebook 360-degree photos and videos have already generated so much content online and is easily accessible by anyone using an Oculus headset.

In the future, people will no longer need to physically go to film theatres to get the 70 mm screen experience. Though at first, purchasing a VR device may sound like an expensive affair, but it has its benefits. Also, with production happening in countries like India and China, the cost of head-mounted displays is going down, enabling wider penetration of VR devices and hence services.

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