Virtual Reality (VR) has become the new playground for the modern consumer, and the next few years are set to change the way we view everything from drama, to entertainment to live music. We checked into the MIPTV conference in Cannes to see what all the fuss is about.
While media has been steadily shifting away from traditional broadcast schedules over the past decade, and more towards on demand and online content, it seems the next big thing is already making huge waves across all genres of TV.
VR dominated the stages and stands at this year’s MIPTV, with exciting, ground-breaking demos being shown on every floor of the event and producers bustling to show off the experiences that this new tech can do at the biggest TV event on the international calendar, this is the litmus test for what will take place over the next 12 months in the world of TV.
As someone who has followed VR since it started entering the household space, seeing the leaps and bounds that have been made since its inception has been energising. On the floor, I experienced everything from traditional video game content, to full bespoke VR experiences. I spent time in an Iron man suit, blasting things from the sky; flew over the rooftops in Japan surrounded by samurai, and sat in an East London cafe while people went about their day. The scope of the content available is breath-taking and there’s something that every consumer can engage with.
Technology and TV have often been challenging bedfellows, with few more explicit than the recent rise and fall of 3D TV. What sets this new platform of VR content apart is the augmentation of personal experience. Whilst spending time around the VR demos, I was shocked by the range of different experiences people were having, most would connect with those they spent more time looking at, completely miss subtle events based purely on what direction their head was and even when looking in a fixed place. The intimacy of the experience led to radically different takes on what would happen, in essence it allowed people to tell their own stories along with the stories being told on screen.
“What’s fascinating with 360 video,” explained Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport at HTC, “is it may not be real VR but it’s immersive storytelling. You put the camera there and get out of the way. You can’t do the close-up zoom in on Tom Cruise when he’s feeling angry. You just have to capture it. It’s nonlinear storytelling, so the user can choose a path rather than having something pre-defined.”
The content is ultimately what will define the platform, with a new breed of young technology savvy producers getting in on the ground floor, with content like the Finish produced VR Witness – putting the viewer at the scene of real life crimes, reconstructing events and looking for clues in an interactive environment; Tilt – A mixed reality gameshow where guests complete challenges in a virtual environment, while their teammates watch on; and Amplified – Set to be the world’s first 360 urban music format, produced by London based LSPTV, putting audiences at the heart of the underground hip hop and grime scene.
This new style of content viewing looks set to grow over the next few years, and in time is going to be a massive part of the way that content is created and consumed. The VR revolution is here, it’s here to stay and it’s the most exciting thing to happen to the medium in a long number of years.
Words: Ben McCormack
Photos: KABO International