Movies, VR, 360-Degree videos and More

By : |April 22, 2016 0

Watching a movie sitting in a theatre might soon be a thing of past. How about being part of the action taking place all around you instead of just looking at the screen.

This is what Virtual Reality and 360-degree video promise to give audiences. The idea is to make you feel like you are in the movie. YouTube and Vimeo already have some VR films on offer. Many professionals and amateurs have also tried their hands at making these kinds of films. To watch, or let’s say to experience,you just have to wear expensive headsets that cover your eyes and ears.

However, there are less costly ways to see VR films too. Many people use their smart-phones, placed in a special cardboard box. Then, they hold it up to their eyes to watch. The boxes can be bought from Google for $15.

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At South by Southwest (SXSW) festival this year, people wore special headsets to watch part of a funny crime film “Career Opportunities in Organized Crime”, shot in VR in Baltimore, Maryland.The people who produced the film say it is the first full-length film made in 360-degree Virtual Reality.

But, there is a problem with 360-degree filming. If viewers looked away from the main action on their headset and “turned around,” they could see the crew shooting the film. To rectify this, makers made the film a “mockumentary,” in other words, a fake documentary. In this way, making the film became part of the story.

Currently, VR headsets are also being used to view films that allow people to travel around the world without leaving their living rooms. A company called YouVisit has films that can be used to advertise trips. It could prove helpful to people who cannot physically travel, but want to experience different places on globe.

The technology surely holds a vast ocean of possibilities. However, like any technology this too isn’t foolproof. Many people have reported experiencing nausea or sea-sickness while using VR headsets.

There were some other movie technologies on showcase as well at SXSW. Some used special screens. One company, Japanese NHK Media Technology Company, showed their 8K resolution 3-D, or three-dimensional, film. The sound system for the film used 24 speakers. As music played around the people watching, images appeared to jump out of the screen in sharp detail.

But this super technology comes at a very high cost . A company spokesman said the video and sound system costs $500,000 to set up.
Another system shown at South by Southwest was more accessible. A Utah company, Fulldome.pro, uses a dome—a structure that is shaped like half a ball. The company sets up a dome at an angle to the floor with a film playing inside. Viewers sit back in comfortable seats inside the dome to watch the images in front of them with a 180-degree view.

Obviously it’s too early to know how these technologies will change the movie business and theater owners aren’t very keen to invest a lot of money in devices that might be popular for only a short time.

However, they do need to find a way to thrive in the face of tough competition from home theater systems, online streaming and piracy. Changing the way people see movies in a theater might give the business new life. Theaters may have a brighter future if they can provide a movie experience that people cannot get at home.

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