How to bring virtual reality to life?
We will no doubt have understood that in 2016, virtual reality is no longer science fiction! Like Facebook, the GAFAs and other high-tech heavyweights are already in battle order and offer us many applications, devices or videos, betting, rightly, that the general public will follow. While it is now as easy to “consume” virtual reality as to assemble a Cardboard, “producing” it is proving to be more complex despite the democratization of 360-degree cameras.
Whether it is a question of creating a universe in synthetic images, like a video game, or of filming “reality”, as one would make a film, creating content for virtual reality calls for specific rules to reach its audience. Because it is important to remember that even if we think of virtual reality in analogy with video games or cinema, it is in reality a medium in its own right.
Adapt content to equipment
Headsets connected to the computer, glasses or Cardboards working with a mobile… The disparities in terms of equipment are immense and segment the market in terms of targets but also in terms of content that can be offered. Indeed if the Oculus Rift, by its price and its use on computer, remains the prerogative of fans of video games, the Cardboard by its extreme accessibility is intended for absolutely everyone.
If the visual quality varies little, the experiences offered by this equipment remain very different. Indeed, with the most developed helmets, the capacity for interaction is very important, each movement of the body potentially being able to be transcribed into action in the virtual world. On the contrary with a Cardboard, only the eyes (and a click) allow you to evolve in the environment. According to Google, 5 million Cardboards have been sold since its creation, which makes it the instrument for the propagation of virtual reality. Wanting to make virtual content accessible to as many people as possible therefore means creating content that only responds to visual control.
More prosaically, the democratization of the Cardboard also has an influence on the duration of the content that we can offer: having to be held at arm’s length, we doubt that there are many who can support this position for more than a few minutes …
Unlike cinema, virtual reality only works in subjective reality, where the user is given the illusion of being immersed in a scene. Two types of approach are then possible: we adopt either the point of view of a character written in the scenario and immersed in the action, or that of an invisible “ghost” character who cannot interact. From there, the content creator has to write their storyline based on the type of character they’ve chosen and stick to it throughout, otherwise the immersion is risked.
Do not abstract from all logic
With virtual reality, there is a real risk of causing seasickness. A risk that is not due to the subjective mode but rather to the loss of logic of the action. For example, if we choose that the camera will adopt the point of view of one of the characters in the action, it is necessary that the movements of the camera are in adequacy. A real character cannot suddenly pass through walls or end up glued to the ceiling watching the scene from above.
Don’t (just) recycle what already exists
A new medium, virtual reality is not intended to be a new way of watching a movie or a television show. Already for the three reasons mentioned above, which are technical reasons, but also because for it to be adopted, virtual reality must provide real added value. For example, there would be little point in filming an entire concert in virtual reality when it could be viewed in better quality on a television screen anyway. It’s up to content creators to be creative!
Gildas Dussauze is co-founder of VRTUOZ. He was for more than 10 years at the head of the commercial department of the record company Wagram Music. Convinced that virtual reality will allow the artistic world to find new outlets and provide the public with a unique immersive experience, in 2015 he founded the company VRTUOZ with Benjamin Baldacci and Yoann Alves. Together, they are developing the first interoperable virtual reality platform to share 3D and 360-degree content in real time.