Prediction #1: The VR buzz extends into the content business

In my previous post I started the year off with “6 predictions for 2016” from an animation producer’s point of view. Since headline style slides are very slim in content by nature, I decided to elaborate a bit on each prediction in weekly posts. Here’s the first one:

Prediction #1
In the past 5 years, investors have poured 4 billion dollars into the nascent VR tech industry. 2015 alone saw almost one billion in investments made. However, up to now most of the money in the VR sector has gone into technology companies, whether they produce headsets, rumored contact lenses or an “end-to-end content creation platform“.

While some investments have been made in games and entertainment companies, the end products are not what you’d call narrative storytelling. Baobab is actually the first studio I’ve heard of, who are vocal about creating narrative film experiences for VR devices.

What does this mean for an animation producer? Personally, I’ll be following the world of VR closely, and keeping an eye out on Baobab and other similar studios. Doing tests and pilot projects with the new medium is certainly worth some R&D resrouces, and offering 360 skills might even land your studio an assignment from a client who wants to be perceived to be on the cutting edge.

360 video can achieve a lot of audience love, but there is a big questionmark as to whether VR actually lends itself to narrative stories at all. I very much agree with Ed Catmull’s analogy, that “books aren’t the same thing as movies. They don’t have to be.” And similarly, we will definitely find use cases that let VR shine – but we’ll have to wait and see whether those are narrative stories.

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