Virtual Reality to the Mainstream
The Tribeca Film Festival is relatively becoming a showcase for upcoming independent videos. However, as we move forward, an increasingly digital world is opening its doors to different platforms of storytelling, including virtual reality (VR) technology.
The 15th annual New York film festival, which runs from April 13 through 24, will showcase 28 VR experiences. While many of them need the solitary activity of putting on a headset and watching the 360-degree film, much of the VR content will experiment with techniques that filmmakers hope will grow exemplarily with the mainstream.
Loren Hammons, one of the interactive programmers at the Tribeca Film Festival, said, ”I don’t think it’s necessary for VR to become a mass participatory event, but I think it is definitely expanding to be more palatable to the masses.”
As the popularity of virtual reality technology increases, more artists and filmmakers are working with the medium’s potential for involving the reader with the storytelling. However, for it to be considered a game changer, it needs to be accepted by a larger audience.
An up-to-date report from Greenlight VR and Road to VR guesses that 2.3 million VR headsets will be purchased this year in America, which is less than 1 percent of the population. The businesses do hope sales will grow to 136 million within a decade. The Wall Street Journal stated that another business, SuperData Research, recently changed its global VR sales projections to $2.86 billion, down 22 percent from figures released in early March.
Nick DiCarlo, vice president and general manager of immersive products and virtual reality at Samsung Electronics America, mentions it views a lot of potential in VR given consumer feedback, but understands it’s still not there.
DiCarlo said, “Our vision is that VR can become a mainstream technology.”
To further boost acceptance, the technology company is vigorously aiming to introduce VR to more consumers through events at places like South by Southwest, the NBA all-star weekend and the Tribeca Film Festival. It also kept its Samsung Gear VR headset price at under a hundred dollars, and forced it be compatible with six of its Samsung Galaxy devices.
“VR is in early days, but products like Gear VR are ideally suited because they are simple to use, and self-contained, and powered by a smartphone millions of people already have,” DiCarlo said.
At Tribeca’s Virtual Arcade, 13 VR demonstrators have displays where attendees can discuss with the filmmakers and view their VR work, as well as head to two lounge areas to chat with other festivalgoers about what they saw. The experience mirrors going to a movie theater, except instead of sitting for a single movie people can bounce around to a bunch of smaller videos.
VR media can range from Penrose Studio’s “Allumette,” a third of an hour storyline about an orphan child living in a cloud city, to Wevr’s “Old Friend,” where the viewer stands in the middle of an animated psychedelic dance off. Creator Tyler Hurd mentions that he was hoping to capture the experience of attending a dance party with friends.
Hurd also mentioned that while the experience is for a single person currently, the team might make it “multiplayer” later on. That being said, there’s also something for others lingering around waiting for their turn with the product, watching the individual doing the VR experience themselves.
Hurd said, ”It’s basically a music video, and you’re in the center of it, and there are lot of fun characters that come and go and do these synchronized dance routines. It’s more of a linear experience that is trying to get the viewer dance… When (the user) gets in there and does it themselves, people can watch from the outside.”