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When Virtual Reality (VR) Disturbs Instead of Disrupts

October 11, 2016

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Samsung Gear VR. Oculus Rift. Google Cardboard. Maybe you own one or all of these products. At the very least, you’ve probably heard virtual reality early adopters swear there’s a coming revolution in video storytelling. But VR won’t disrupt every medium right away.

Deloitte Global has predicted VR will have “its first billion-dollar year in 2016” — $700 million in hardware sales and $300 million in content. We’ll know soon whether the market meets this prediction, but most important, Deloitte believes the trend will be driven by video games, not film or TV.

Why won’t the VR revolution make as many waves in film or TV? Because for a century, film and TV viewers have been trained where to look. VR’s 360-degree video places viewers directly in an environment and gives them the power of perspective, which is a perfect match with first- and third-person content. A film’s perspective, on the other hand, is determined by camera placement, shot composition, and the relative placement of characters and objects. These things are done deliberately to move the story forward, leaving the viewer powerless of the perspective. VR cannot operate within the constraints of forced subjectivity.

VR has and will continue to change things in gaming and content on social media. It’s already making a splash for our Tahiti Tourisme client, with 360 videos of surfing and the beautiful islands. This is a perfect way to use VR: by placing viewers in an environment wildly unlike their own, make it exotic and tempt them to go explore. Or at the very least, stay on their couch to consume your beautiful content.

David Tibbets


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