Innovation is crucial in this industry, it keeps the wheel turning bringing fresh ideas, technology and talent. In film, the introduction of digital cameras led to an explosion of creativity. It allowed filmmakers to explore visual storytelling in a way unthinkable before. There was a mass effect from this, changing the blockbuster forever. Then, in 2009 James Cameron released Avatar, filmed entirely on Digital 3D, giving audiences a new cinematic experience. However, the impact of this has waned over the years. 3D was and still is an impressive idea, blurring the line between screen and audience. This perhaps was a precursor to a new innovation, one that’s impact could completely change this industry – Virtual Reality.
Virtual Reality (VR), is essentially the technology to place the user in a virtual landscape. It is an active experience, not passively staring at a screen, but engaging with the simulated world around you. The history of this technology goes back a lot further than expected and its impact will be felt far beyond the cinema.
First invented back in 1953 (yes, really!) by cinematographer Morton Heilig, he named his invention Sensorama, an apt and era-appropriate title. Since then the technology has slowly and steadily been iterated to where we see it now – portable headsets used, currently, for video games and experimental movies. It’s a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, envisioned in science-fiction novels and films such as Neuromancer and Tron, our technology is finally catching up to the dream.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, home for VR is the Video Game market. We are already seeing a variety of games made specifically for the technology. Other legacy franchises are adopting it, also, from Doom to the uber-popular Fortnite. Back over in cinema, the same is happening, many films are being retrofitted to be able to watch them via a headset. Amazon Prime even just announced that the entire service and all content will be VR friendly, allowing you to use the platform in a whole new way.
The entire market is forecast to grow over the coming years, with exponential growth expected by 2023. Popular products include Oculus Rift, Playstation VR and VIVE continue to sell. With a market growing this fast, it seems eyes are starting to shift on the industry. Visions of people living full lives through their headsets, experiencing the world through a pair of goggles can seem unsettling, but perhaps it is inevitable. Like true innovation, the impact is unknown, its reach is still extending. One thing that can be certain is that it will change this industry forever.