I use the word “experience” in the title of this post instead of “watch” or “screen” because it’s really more of an active experience, than the passive nature of movie-watching that we’re all accustomed to.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, virtual reality (VR) is seemingly *the future* of media, especially in gaming and cinema.
How big could this specific industry get? Consider that major companies like Disney, Google, Facebook and others are investing billions of dollars into perfecting the technology, and the experience that they likely hope will eventually become mainstream. There’s even a Virtual Reality Film Festival already – a traveling festival organized by VR company Kaleidoscope and video hosting platform Vrideo, which is currently in the middle of a 10-city tour.
Kaleidoscope believes that virtual reality could become “the dominant art form” – what film as we currently know it has been for the past century.
So, the question is, do you VR? I can see some VR company using that as a slogan – if one doesn’t already.
Some filmmakers already do VR, like an outfit that calls itself NubianVR, which I was introduced to via email today via what they describe as an experimental 360-degree short film that was shot in Ghana.
Titled “Pandora,” the short, which is their first attempt at producing a 360 degree film, was filmed using a dual Kodak SP360 rig.
It follows “Pandora as she journeys through the dreamscape of virtual Accra, where the ancient Greek myth is re-imagined in an African context and retold through the looking-glass of virtual reality,” as the filmmakers note.
Directed and produced by Jonathan Dotse and Kabiru Seidu, “Pandora” stars Doris Mamley Djangmah as “Pandora.”
More from Jonathan Dotse on the project: “Working with virtual reality has been one of my lifelong dreams which is finally metamorphosing into reality. I’ve been designing VR headsets since I was a kid, but I only started building real (as in working) models in November last year when I first discovered the joys of Google Cardboard. This year Kabiru [Seidu] and I joined forces to organize the PANDORA VR exhibition at the 2015 Chale Wote Street Arts festival, and to create NubianVR, an Accra-based VR content production company dedicated to creating immersive, interactive multimedia experiences for a diverse range of applications. The PANDORA project was our first attempt at producing a 360-degree video, but we’re building our capacity to produce high-quality VR content in the near future. This short film was screened on custom-built headsets featuring several improvements to the basic Google Cardboard design, including a flexible plastic case, 2” lenses (90+ FOV), independently adjustable IPD, passive ventilation, integrated audio and USB power/data interfaces. The footage was recorded with a dual Kodak SP360 camera rig in one weekend and stitched together during the editing stage. Everyone who took part in the exhibition (kids and adults) got a chance to try out the 3-minute VR experience for free, most of them for the very first time. It was simply incredible. I’ll be revealing more about NubianVR in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to establish ourselves and define our focus. I’ll also talk about some exciting projects and events lined up on the calendar. From my viewpoint, 2016 looks set to become the turning point for virtual reality as an entirely new medium of expression, one which has the potential to completely transform the way in which we create and share experiences. VR is already laying its foundations in Africa, and you can be sure it’s here to stay. I’m thrilled to be playing a part in all this, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.”
Indeed! Reading all of that certainly got me excited about what’s to come from Dotse and company, as well as from VR in general.
I’m just starting to dig into Google Cardboard. You can do so yourself here.
Dotse is also creator of the AfroCyberpunk blog, which is worth a subscription.
While we wait to see what else comes from NubianVR, take a look at their first “experiment” in VR below, aka “Pandora.” For the uninitiated, the navigation tool on the top-left is essentially your guide, or just click anywhere inside the player to move around.