Sunday, May 15, 2016

Could The Tribeca Film Festival Make Virtual Reality Movies Mainstream?

Given that the organizers have been exhibiting feature length virtual reality films since 2015, could Tribeca Film Festival make virtual reality movies mainstream?

By: Ringo Bones 

From computer generated animation extravaganzas to serious documentary films, exhibitors at Tribeca had been taking advantage of the improved virtual reality headsets now commonly available to the general public. From Oculus Rift and related virtual reality headsets, it seems like the virtual reality format is no longer limited to serious computer gaming and thanks to Tribeca, virtual reality could represent the next step in the evolution of the art of cinema – even a step above current Imax 3D. 

Ever since it has evolved past its nystagmus plagued and sea-sickness inducing first generation virtual reality headsets of the early 1990s, serious computer gamers have been the first ones to exploit the potential of a new generation of improved virtual reality headsets – like the Oculus Rift – during the first decade of the 21st Century. And thanks to Tribeca’s first crop of virtual reality films of 2015, it seems like this year’s Tribeca will be remembered as the time when immersive virtual reality movies went mainstream. 

The 2016 Tribeca was also notable for Turning Forest virtual reality because it was one of the first VR based films that uses motion tracked surround sound that makes the headset wearer experience a wrap-around surround sound that’s congruent to the virtual reality film being played. Most virtual reality headsets on the market still don’t have this newfangled surround sound feature. And the same motion tracked surround sound technology will be used for the upcoming Chernobyl VR documentary that aims to make the viewer as if he or she were actually there during the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident that happened back in April 26, 1986. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Could 3-D Virtual Reality Headsets Increase The Popularity of 3-D Movies?

Given that more and more people are now downloading (hopefully legally) movies online, could new and improved affordable 3-D virtual reality headsets increase the popularity of 3-D movies?

By: Ringo Bones 

Despite 2016 is being dubbed as the “Year of Virtual Reality” it seems that Hollywood has yet to tap into the 3-D virtual reality headset PC gaming world for the high resolution 3-D movie viewing potential of their existing kit. At present, those “large-scale” IMAX movie theaters are the most popular way to watch 3-D movies in its maximum quality at a relatively “affordable” cost. But due to the increasing popularity of online movie downloads (hopefully legally downloaded) could the increasing availability of relatively affordable 3-D virtual reality headsets make high quality 3-D movie viewing at home a possibility and make 3-D movies popular again since the post James Cameron’s Avatar dip? 

The reason why Facebook purchased Oculus Rift for 2 billion US dollars is probably due to the perfection of its “headache free” virtual reality headset a few years ago. Oculus Rift VR headset costs US$599 and is one of the widely available models out there. HTC Vive is another widely available VR headset at US$799 while the “cheapest” one out there is the Sony PlayStation VR at US$499. But can all of them be used to watch 3-D movies at home with an image quality as good as or better than those in large scale IMAX movie theatres at your local mall? 

At present, there aren’t any dedicated 3-D movies that can take advantage of existing VR headset’s 360-degree surround view capability. Worse still, personal computers that are powerful enough to be fully compatible to those widely available 3-D virtual reality headsets that serious PC gamers can do without only represent 1-persent of the computers already running around the world. And if you only use your PC for basic schoolwork, chances are it isn’t part of the 1-percent that’s fast enough and had the requisite video cards to run a state-of-the-art 3-D virtual reality headset currently used by serious PC gamers. And to take advantage of future online high resolution 3-D movie content, chances are, your existing Wi-Fi or internet connection might be too slow.