VR On The Lot
On the heels of the first “VR on the Lot” hosted by the VR Society on the Paramount Studios Lot, I wanted to share my insight on the two-day long event which was filled with a fantastic crew of people willing to share and learn about what is being developed and tested in the industry today.
For me, it came down to 3 major themes:
- Unprecedented Collaboration
- Re-Inventing Identities
- Exploring New Frontiers
In an effort to birth a completely new market, traditional competitors like AMD and Intel find themselves working towards a common goal supporting next generation VR creative professionals. Meanwhile, large enterprises and nimble start ups are validating models together and the creative and innovation communities are collaborating to create experiences for audiences. These forces are joining, for what seems like the first time in history, to experiment and learn what the use of this medium is and how to fully reach it’s potential.
Examples of this includes how seemingly closed companies like Sony are opening their doors to new ideas and learning. Kuni Suzuki, EVP of Strategic Corporate Initiatives of Sony Entertainment, called for more partnerships in hopes to advance Sony’s 3 strategic initiatives:
- Playstation VR
- Capture sensors and devices
- Entertainment and content
Jake Zim, SVP of Virtual Reality for Sony Pictures, also called out the need for Sony Entertainment to contribute to the VR community by driving more learning to:
- Develop new narrative storytelling methods to drive deeper connection.
- Creating environments in which immersive entertainment could provide amazing user/audience experiences.
- Removing friction for users/audiences to participate in immersive entertainment.
Fundamentally, the entire VR community has bought into the need to experiment and learn from each other in the efforts to advance the industry together.
With this new medium there is an opportunity for brands to re-invent themselves. Companies like Time Inc., Technicolor, and Google are great examples of organizations who are looking to immersive media as a way to establish a connection with future generations of content consumers.
I loved how Mia Tramz, Managing Editor of LIFE VR of Time Inc. is creating a structure where all of Time Inc. brands could come together to offer a more unified voice and experience.
Amit Singh, VP of Business & Ops for Virtual Reality for Google, shared more about how cross-functional ecosystems look to the everyday mobile lifestyle to create simple products which remove friction from experiencing VR while lowering the barrier for creators to develop content and experiences for audiences.
Technicolor, a company built on innovation in the in media and entertainment, is also interested in spawning ecosystems. Their Deputy CEO, President of Production Services, Tim Sarnoff, wants to replicate what we did 100 years ago and reminded us that it took from 1915 to 1928 to “get radio right.”
He believes there are 4 factors for the medium to succeed:
- The content has be be high quality and immersive.
- It needs to be social to drive connection and prevent loneliness.
- The content needs to be episodic in nature which creates compelling characters for the audience to connect with.
- The ecosystems need to be disruptive to get a fair share of the wallet.
These 3 companies, along with others, seem to realize the necessity to redefine their own identity and reframe their existence for future generations.
In any emerging market, there are unique opportunities to explore new frontiers from a variety of different angles. There were 4 frontiers that seem to be a common thread through the entire event:
- Technology – People like Jan Nordmann from Fraunhofer, Frank Soqui from Intel, Roy Taylor from AMD, and Joel Susal from Dolby are pioneering core technologies which will be leveraged by the industry to enable companies like Zeality to drive new engagement and experience models.
- Storytelling – The clearest common message from ALL of the creators and producers was the need to develop a new language for storytelling. Many have shared this point of view, however this seemed to be the rallying cry from studio executives to independent creators alike. The key is the willingness to share knowledge and learn from each other.
- New models – Everything from value creation and monetization to distribution and location based experiences were extensively covered.
- China – Organizations in China seem to be on a parallel track with the US including new cameras, new software platforms, new HMDs, and new experiences. There is ONE thing which is missing….Content.
The result of these 3 themes seems to be momentum to creating the shift needed in one of the most compelling unified efforts to build a market that I have ever seen. Many described The VR on the Lot event as Hollywood’s response to “VR is for Gaming”, and I have to agree. It’s a must for anyone in the space and Lori Schwartz and group at the VR Society did an amazing job. VR on the Lot provided a phenomenal opportunity for the community to interact and engage with each other around what needs to be done and how we can continue to build this market together.