Cinema has been around for more than a century. From the nickleodeons of the 1800s, to Block Buster Rentals of the 80s and 90s…to modern day IMAX. Genre and type go almost beyond limit when it comes to cinema. Cinematography has evolved and mixed over generations. Scores written by master composers have won more Oscars than many actors of the day. Speaking of actors…well, there’s just so many, each unique, even when taking inspiration from the people around them, writers of their characters and also fellow actors. Screens have grown from tiny wooden rooms, to grand orchestral halls, to the glory of modern day premiere scaling international lengths.
So what’s new for cinema in the modern, technological age? Virtual Reality. Now…3D immersive movies have been around for quite some time in cinema, although they weren’t utilizing VR at the time. But with the rattling seats of the cinema and the spray of water on he face, with surround sound speakers, they did a pretty good job. However, the scale was quite small and such 3D movies never caught on. In recent times however, since VR has become a mainstream platform, organizations have finally begun to pool some of their cash into immersive cinema. Within recent years, Hollywood has seemed to have noticed the possibilities that encompass VR cinema. Academy Award winner Katheryn Bigelow, in 2017, created an immersive documentary on Poaching and how it’s affecting the world by the name of The Protectors. Mexican writer and director Alejandro G. Inarritu even won an Academy Award for his VR film Carne Y Arena. Acclaimed director and writer Ridley Scott, with a history of making Sci-Fi thrillers such as the ALIEN series and Blade Runner, has found quite an interest in VR film making, and has created an Immersive Movie branch of his company RSA Films. RSA Films previously released The Martian Experience, a VR experience of the hit Sci-Fi movie The Martian featuring Matt Damon.
We have been heavily involved in VR for the past few years, and having a dedicated stand-alone division underscores our commitment to immersive media in both the brand and entertainment space.
– Jules Daly, President RSA Films.
However, in spite of the fact that VR movies are gradually becoming common among the masses, there is still a plethora of obstacles. The key obstacle being, that many directors are simply not used producing films for VR. Most are accustomed to using two dimensional point of views, which often encompass a grand scale. Having a grand scale for a VR movie is quite difficult, since the “camera’s eye” is the user itself, and is unable to move a great distance. Another key obstacle, is the fact that many people get motion sickness and nausea from continuous VR usage, especially elders. Furthermore, all cinema movies are directed and shot to engulf a massive audience, in a large theater. This is quite the issue with VR, since its a. Only available on a handful of devices and b. Only provides the experience to one individual at a time. People often like to share their experience. Comfort is also an issue, as wearing a VR headset for an extended period of time can be quite difficult as well.
Now the above may seem to blur any possibilities of a sustainable future for VR cinema, but there’s always a bright side as well. There is a reason many directors and companies are shifting towards VR entertainment. The first being, obviously…that there’s nothing like a VR experience in any public theater, it simply cant be done. Also, its still new! The two dimensional cinema has existed for a century now and is saturated to the core. VR cinema however is still new, and not a lot of people are hoping on board either. So the opportunity is not just new, but its also here to stay for a while.
So while it may just be a child, I personally think VR cinema is here to stay, and in the years to come, when VR becomes a common household item, we’ll be a getting virtual reality master pieces!