April 14th, 2016
With the rapid uptake of VR, AR and digitally immersive content as a popular method of both entertainment and communication, what does the future hold for Virtual Reality and traditional linear film? What are the current limitations of creating immersive content, and and how is the industry evolving to deal with the technical barriers creatives are facing?

These were just some of the questions raised by a panel of successful women from across the entertainment industry, who gathered at the Wythe hotel this week to discuss the path that VR has carved out for storytelling, and how we can utilise non-conventional narrative to engage with audiences in new and intimate ways.

The panel, hosted by New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), included influential industry giants such as Jacquie Barnbrook (Reel Vox, Inc), Jaqueline Bosnjak (Mach1), Jen Dennis (RSA), Bethany Haynes (Sloss Eckhouse LawCo LLP), Marcy Jastrow (Technicolor), Yelena Rachisty (Oculus Story Studio) and Rebecca Howard (New York Times). The audience were then able to don headsets, some for the first time, and experience a range of virtual worlds, including The Mill's Gatorade 'Bryce Harper VR Experience', created in collaboration with OMD. 

Headset 2

How can we get filmmakers feeling comfortable with VR? This is one of the key issues facing the creative industry. Only a small handful of people have been able to glance into the technical world of VR until now, but as it takes off as a viable channel for entertainment, traditional creatives, DOPs and directors have to adapt their skill set to incorporate new camera rigs, shooting techniques and use of script and sound.

Yelena Rachisty suggests that part of the solution is working out the technical limitations and allowances we are currently faced with, and properly educating filmmakers, enabling them to navigate the space which VR occupies and explore this new avenue of storytelling to its full potential.

As the demand for immersive content skyrockets, it’s up to the creative and technical industries to develop new tools in order to create better looking, higher quality content at greater ease. Will we see affordable 360 camera rigs and stitching software available to all one day? Will the filmmakers of the future neglect to use traditional film techniques all together?

Camera Rig

One thing we do know is that we’re right at the beginning of this exciting new venture, on the cusp of what could be a revolutionary movement in entertainment and advertising. The buzz around VR means both brands and creatives are inclined to explore narrative in new ways, and in turn, tech experts are constantly developing new tools to facilitate the creation of virtual storytelling.

In this quickly evolving industry, companies need to have the agility to to evolve along with consumer demands, as pointed out by Marcy Jastrow of Technicolor. The ability to embrace new techniques, technology, pipelines and creative will only ensure business longevity within a world wherein content is becoming increasingly hyper real, multi-sensory and super immersive. We no longer want passive content. As viewers we want to see, hear, smell, do and most importantly feel.

VR is a game changer for everyone. It’s propelling new tech and creative forward. It’s giving brands a new avenue to engage with their consumers in a much more intimate way. And it’s creating a whole new world for us as viewers to immerse and experience film, advertising and education.