Throughout the history of cinema there have been a number of technological breakthroughs that have completely changed the cinema experience. Sound, animation, colour, sensurround . 3D. CGI. 3D again. With each of these new innovations we see the film landscape change as directors adapt to these new technologies. Some are permanent fixtures of the silver screen and some fade away. The latest technological trend is of course, VR and 360 degree video. With a number of headsets on the market, consumers are already being able to experience content, and a number of directors have toyed with the possibilities in this new medium.
VR presents an interesting viewpoint, putting the viewer directly into the experience, and giving them a first hand view of the world. Of course the possibilities are endless and we’ve already seen a number of directors use this technology to take you under the sea in documentaries, or throw you right in the middle of your favourite animated worlds.
Whilst headsets are expensive, did you know you can already experience VR/360 degree content using your smartphone and a cheap peripheral? Google Cardboard (available all over eBay) is a cheap method of turning your smartphone into a VR machine, and with YouTube natively recognizing 360 video, its never been easier to get your first taste of this brand new technology.
Here’s 5 videos that we think are worth you time and are a wonderful introduction to this brand new world of filmmaking.
(Note: Whilst some of the below embedded videos are watchable in 2D, it’s highly recommended you check these out using a Cardboard or other headset, with headphones, to get the full experience)
The first 360 degree video nominated for an Academy Award, Pearl tells the story of a car and its place in the lives of a father and daughter. Placed directly on the dashboard, you (the viewer) is centre stage to experience the power of music and the joy of life with all the ups and downs it brings.
Even though it only has a 5 minute runtime, Pearl reaches legitimate Pixar levels of heart. If there is only one video from this list you check out, make it this one. I cannot recommend this one enough, it absolutely blew me away.
Directed by Fast and Furious and Star Trek Beyond helmer Justin Lin, Help is a rare live action 360 short featuring a ravenous monster and a pair of helpless citizens trying to outrun it! Help is very much a short on the move and viewer is along for the ride. Whether its escaping on a subway train or coming face to face with a godzilla sized creature, Help puts you right in the action.
The Simpsons: Planet of the Couches
Available exclusively on the Google Spotlight Stories (for Android and iOS) app, this short developed for the 600th episode of The Simpsons is a VR take on the classic Simpson couch gag. In this short, our four fingered family is locked up in the Planet of the Apes parody where couches rule. No matter where you look, you’ll trigger sight gags and hilarious quips from your favourite characters. No degree of this video is without something to look and laugh at! Bonus points for call backs the Planet of the Apes musical (Dr Zaius!)
Hand drawn by Disney animation legend Glen Keane, this joyful animated love story is reminiscent of Disney’s wonderful Paperman short. Even without dialogue, this short is absolutely spellbinding, and down right beautiful. The animation style is purposefully rough, but the character and environment designs are unreal. This short can be view on any phone via the Google Spotlight Stories app, without the need for a Google Cardboard. Whilst you can watch this in 2D above, the app will let you follow the characters around this animated world and watch them grow together.
It’s Christmas time, and our heroic maintenance man is on the case to find the mysterious person leaving presents at every house. Reach for the snow in the air via your VR device and watch as jolly Saint Nick goes full stealth mode bringing joy to all that he visits. Created by Aardman Animations (Wallace and Gromit) this short will definitely get you in the mood for Christmas!
So now that you’ve entered the wonderful world of VR content, be sure to let us know via Facebook or the comments below, any other amazing VR/360 Degree videos you find out there.