Daniel J. Harris on the Oculus Rift and 360-degree films…
Oculus Rift has been around in the gaming world for a little while now. And 360-degree films aren’t exactly new. But, with recent leaps in technology, accessibility and the cost of their production reducing they seem to be the next big thing to take the film industry by storm!
3D films were the big thing a few years ago and many of the top filmmakers jumped on the bandwagon with James Cameron and Avatar to create their own 3D film. For me, it gave me a headache and didn’t enjoy my experience.
The last 12 to 18 months has seen the boom in aerial photography due to the technologies reduction in price, accessibility and simplified consumer versions of the technology flooding the market place. Now, it seems that everyman and their dog has a drone! Some do it better than others, but everyone is having a go. And now, those who like to be at the forefront of new filming techniques and ways of wowing their audience are looking at the next phase.
Here at FOCUS SHIFT FILMS we’ve taken our own birds, modified them and we’re producing better quality than you’re average aerial teams out there! But, it’s not enough. Oculus Rift and 360 degree filming is next on the horizon!
360-degree films have been around for some time. The Walt Disney Company pioneered what they called Circle-Vision 360 as a film technique back in the 1950s and 60s. Since then all manner of companies have tried to create 360 virtual tours of stadiums and buildings, but many have used photos stitched together and there’s no movement in anything on screen. The next phase in development has been 360 degree filming using several cameras put together on a rig all filming in different directions. Again, those images are stitched together to create one seamless image and viewers can choose to look in which, ever direction they wish.
YouTube has now also adapted to be able to allow for 360 degree films to be played on their website. It’s pretty cool and offers something interested, but not exactly an ‘experience’. YouTube 360 videos only work on Chrome or on the Android YouTube app, but surely soon enough it’ll be other places. Dimension Gate Inc. advertise their new 360 Horror Series, but for me it’s a bit boring watching on your computer screen. You can turn 360 degrees – great! But, in a 3minute video nothing horrifying happens, except for a poorly superimposed ghost for a few seconds. On it’s own its not exactly amazing. Whether or not that works better with Oculus Rift – I’m not sure.
360 degree filming combined with Oculus Rift when done well adds an entirely new experience to watching something. Putting on a headset and seeing the experience from the first person is pretty amazing and very, very immersive! Several times myself or a colleague reached for something or moved our bodies when experiencing downhill skiing!
The idea of headsets immersing the viewer in a virtual reality world has been floating around since at least the 80s. The Rift itself has been developed over the last few years by Oculus and it was developed originally for the gaming industry. In 2012 Id Software announced that it would be delivering its new Doom 3 game that would be compatible with a head-mounted display unit that would provide a stereoscopic 3D perspective.
Over the last few years Oculus Rift has been growing and several versions have been developed with a view to brining it market for consumers. This has been aided by Facebook buying Oculus VR for an obscene amount of money! And now that Facebook is behind it technology will surely move quicker. Knowing Facebook’s track record I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Facebook becomes a 3D virtual reality community where we can not only post our pictures, but also some how walk through pictures put up by friends and loved ones. It may well all get very weird indeed –think of the sex scene in Demolition Man!
Our friends at Atticus Digital popped into our office to talk about new possibilities and our future together combining their technology and ours. We are very excited and can’t wait to get stuck into 360-degree aerial films flying over some of the countries best locations, tourist attraction and events. It would open up a whole new avenue for tourism and leisure! Possibilities are pretty excited and there’s so many cool things can be done with this technology now being more accessible!
The next steps for us are to get our Big Bird modified to fit AD’s 360-camera rig on and to get out and test it! With YouTube now embracing 360 video this could well be the next step in online video and we are looking to be right there at the forefront of it with Atticus Digital! Watch this space for our trial runs at 360 aerial filming ready for Oculus Rift!
It’s all getting a little bit too Total Recall/Terminator/Minority Report/Iron Man for us! But, we’re very excited.