29-11-2016

FNE AV Innovation: How will Cinema Be Positioned In Our Inevitable Immersive Future?

By
Peeter Nieler Peeter Nieler

About the Author: Peeter Nieler is a pioneer in Virtual Reality. He has been researching and developing for Virtual Reality (VR) for over four years and his company Criffin is an important player in the VR sector.. 

With a background in both film production and as a director, he shares with FNE his vision of the future of VR in the context of media consumption-not just what it means for watching films but also as it applies to surfing the web or visualising data.

The Future is Immersive

There's no doubt VR is here to stay and will become an important component of our everyday life. Of course the technology must shrink remarkably and become almost seamless and unnoticeable, but considering the speed with which technologies are advancing these days it's a matter of years, not decades.

But hardware is not the core focus of this article, it's content and how we experience it. A very important baseline (besides ergonomics and lower cost) will be the social aspects of VR.

Mark Zuckerberg demonstrated this year at Oculus Connect some important work on social VR and when we consider that our facial emotions and body language can be fully transferred to our avatar (that could look like us, as for example Wolfprint3D is aiming to do) in Virtual Reality, the true potential of VR is revealed. It will become an important tool not just for gaming but change almost everything we do: from business meetings to education, medicine and entertainment we'll find ourselves teleported into this new universe, using its digital canvas to exchange ideas and interact like never before.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaVRgKC8ycQ

Above recently launched Limelight VR trailer aiming to help people with public speaking anxiety. In the future the platform could be used for collaborative purposes (meetings, presentations, etc)

How Will Cinemas and Distribution Be Impacted?

It's already happening. According to the New York Times, cinema is under attack by streaming services, such as Netflix and the disruptive Screening Room. Now imagine that you could visit a virtual cinema with a friend from another continent having a fully social entertainment experience, and maybe even meet some new people along the way?

Traditional movie theatres will not disappear but just like with the rise of any new platform, VR will take an additional share from cinemas as in the future it will offer besides "big screen experience" many other features hard to compete with features such as the endless possibilities of digital reality and immersive social aspects to name a few.

So we're looking at a whole new "adapt to survive" playing field. IMAX has taken the lead by bringing VR to their movie theatres. I'm sure the next step will be bringing their theatres into VR.

"It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and to adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself" Charles Darwin (“Origin of Species”)

I hope some players in the European film industry, such as for example film distributors in Europe, can see in all this as a new opportunity to level the playing field to their advantage. But it's important to remember: investing into developing areas is all about timing.