As mentioned in our recent blog post entitled 'Virtual Reality Finally Becomes Accessible' it appears that the recently launched Oculus Go, and the new era of low-cost, high quality VR headsets that it will inevitably usher in, is a tipping point for virtual reality. It’s now accessible for everyone. So, once you get your brand new shiny VR headset, what should you watch?
One of the problems with VR is that it is very new. Quite frankly that means that only a small proportion of content creators are doing it well. We are right at the very early dawn of this new medium, and the danger is that people give VR a go, try some bad examples, and then don’t embrace it. Thankfully there are some good curated channels out there such as Within and Littlstar, but within even them there are often examples of filmmakers who haven’t been able to transition properly from traditional movie making to VR. I’ll discuss some of these common challenges in a future post, but for now here are some great VR examples that I have researched and that I am showing everybody in our offices as their entry into virtual reality.
This is a good entry level video to calmly show people the power of VR. It’s a beautifully shot piece, which I can only assume is all real and not CGI. They couldn’t have choreographed the elephants any better. It’s not stereo 3D and yet it gives you a great sense of immersion and intimacy with an animal that you wouldn’t normally get.
There are hundreds of 360 videos flying around famous landmarks and impressive landscapes. You could spend weeks watching them all. This one is a montage of some great clips and it starts with a poignant flight over the space where the Twin Towers in Manhattan once stood.
Yes, of course someone has recreated the opening scene from Star Wars in VR. Did you ever doubt that would happen?
This is one that you really have to experience in VR. Just search for it in the Within app. This video was the piece that made me believe that VR has the power to fully immerse and it’s the one that has received the most emotional responses from many of the people I have shown it to. You have to watch the whole thing. Not only does it utilise stereo 3D but it expertly uses music and artistry to evoke emotional responses. Very well done.
This video won the 2016 Cannes Lions Gold Lion Award for Virtual Reality and Technological Achievement. I can’t imagine how much work went into making it. It’s extremely well made, and while not in stereo 3D it still fully transports you into an exciting, dramatic narrative and one that will have you looking around to not only watch the main action but to watch the other protagonists’ responses too.
This is one you have to download as a standalone app. Stereo 3D, fully CG, very immersive. It is well made, with characters looking in a certain direction at times in order to direct the gaze of the viewer. That shows it has been made by people who understand 360 video. It makes you imagine what it would be like to watch a full movie that was made specifically for VR.
Of the videos featured above, the ones that are stereo 3D are computer generated. This music video by OneRepublic is an example of a live action stereo 3D 360 video. It is very cleverly done, with some ‘easter eggs' visible when you look around, away from the main narrative.
Sport was always something I was intrigued about watching in VR. I certainly always thought it could be great to have millions of people all watching the same basketball game from courtside seats that normally only celebrities and millionaires get to sit in. But I hadn’t envisaged some of the other things that are in this example. Having a 360 camera on the actual backboard itself is genius and gives you a whole new experience that you could never have without VR. I really do think that live sports and concert events are a hugely rich area for VR that is only going to keep growing.
If you get your VR headset in time for the FIFA 2018 World Cup then you might be able to watch some of the games in VR. FIFA confirmed that the games will be shot with 360 cameras and in the UK the BBC will be showing the games in UDH and VR. The resolution might not be great, and you will have to have a good broadband connection, but it’s still another great way to enjoy this great sporting occasion.
The Melody app is a great example of how music concerts could be enjoyed in the future, getting to experience concerts from various different camera angles, including even being right next to the singer on stage. Definitely one to watch as they add more content.
I really did not think I would ever watch my normal Netflix stream using a VR headset. But it works. It really does make sense when you’re sitting there with a VR headset on and watching your normal Netflix shows on the equivalent of a 100” flat screen. It works surprisingly well.
So far all of the examples above have been things that you watch alone. One of the great things about VR though is that it can connect people in new ways across the internet. Oculus Rooms is a fairly basic but still very powerful way to do just that. You have a personal apartment that you can customise to your tastes, and play videos on the big screen whilst playing chess or similar games with your friends’ avatars. Great fun and surprisingly intimate.
Games are a whole other genre, and one that of course adds interactivity. Again, however, some are hit and miss. Here are some so far that we have enjoyed, all available within the Oculus Go store.
Let us know in the comments if you come across any other essential VR experiences. New content is being added every day. Enjoy your first step into a new virtual world.
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