LOTS OF EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING IN MOVIE VR WORLD. HERE ARE SOME OF MY HIGHLIGHTS...
IMAX OPENS FIRST VR EXPERIENCE CENTRE IN L.A.
One of the most exciting areas in high-end VR is the arcade/cinema model and IMAX/HTC Vive are leading the way. The recently-opened 'Experience Centre' offers cinema-goers the chance to experience high-end VR, in return for their cash - around $10 for a 10-min experience. Not cheap. So what will they be doing to draw in the punters? IMAX is all about giving the ultimate viewing experience and they are looking to push the envelope when it comes to VR. At the heart of their plans is the hardware. Working with StarBreezeVR, they have developed a VR headset with a much wider field-of-view (FOV), which is a good start. They will also be looking to utilise accessories like the new HTC Vive Tracker, which can be attached to real-world objects, adding a greater sense of immersion - imagine playing a baseball experience and being able to swing a real baseball bat, instead of a controller. They have also invested $50million in new, 'high-quality, premium' content, which they hope will set them apart. This will ultimately make all the difference but for now, there's not a great deal more they can offer, that can't be utilised in a home set-up. However, people who are willing to shell out £1000s on high-end VR at home are not their target audience - this is for people who aren't willing to spend that amount of money but are keen to try the technology out.
I am thrilled that for many, their first VR experience will now be one that truly shows off the medium's potential. Let's just hope they knock the price down. And open one in London. Soon.
For more info... click here.
'READY PLAYER ONE' - SPIELBERG + HTC VIVE
'Ready, Player One' is an upcoming movie set for release around this time next year. Directed by Steven Spielberg it is the film adaptation of Ernest Cline's novel of the same name, which is a seminal piece of writing around virtual worlds and is getting lots in the VR world very excited. If that weren't enough, news has just broken that HTC has just signed a deal with Warner Bros. to create what HTC Vive's SVP, Rikard Steiber, tells me will be 'EPIC' content that will redefine what is possible. Exciting! Content will be released on Viveport and but also mobile headsets and across VR arcades. They hope this could be yet another major push for making the VR headset ubiquitous. Either way, should be some pretty cool content to look forward to!
For more info... click here.
TROJAN'S TOP FIVE - MOVIE SPIN-OFF VR CONTENT
If you don't happen to live in L.A. with access to the new IMAX VR EXPERIENCE, why not kick-back and check out some of the best movie spin-off content available direct from your headsets...
1. STAR WARS: TRIALS ON TATOOINE / BATTLEFRONT / ROGUE-ONE X-WING
TRIALS ON TATOOINE. So nothing beats Star Wars in VR. 'Trials on Tatooine' is a high-end HTC Vive 'room-scale' VR experience that let's you swing about a lightsaber until your heart's content (well, for the 5mins the experience lasts, at least). Based on Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine, you and R2-D2 are tasked with fixing the Millennium Falcon, while warding off the Empire's TIE-fighters screaming overhead. Blocking enemy fire with a lightsaber was about as much fun as I've had in VR and musn't be missed.
BATTLEFRONT VR. Okay, so this isn't movie spin-off content but for those who haven't played Playstation VR's (PSVR) game 'Battlefront', this is quite simply the best game available right now. It doesn't take long to complete (around 10mins) but flying an X-wing in VR is the second-best experience I've had in VR. If you already have the Battlefront game, then the VR component is free-to-download. If not, the game will set you back around £15.
ROGUE-ONE X-WING. So although you're not flying the X-wing this time, for those without PSVR, there's also an 'on-the-rails' experience which isn't too shabby. Not the same but well worth checking out. Available on Samsung Gear VR, YouTube 360, etc.
ROGUE-ONE BEHIND-THE-SCENES. There's also other spin-off content from Rogue-One, including a behind-the-scenes piece, with an interview with Director, Gareth Edwards. Because Star Wars creates such immersive 360-sets, this is definitely worth checking out too. Unless you've won a competition to be an extra in a movie, this is the closest you'll get to being on the set of a Star Wars film.
2. KONG VR: DESTINATION KONG ISLAND
The story may be on the under-developed side (spoiler alert*** you're in a helicopter, it crashes, you wake up to King Kong about to bite your face off) but in terms of CGI, this is one of the best I've seen so far and for me, has set a new benchmark. For that reason alone, it's worth checking out. One thing that VR has over more traditional media is conveying a real sense-of-scale. Looking up at King Kong is a pretty awe-inspiring experience.
Watched on Samsung Gear.
3. THE AVENGERS
Not sure if this should really make the list as the story has gone from under-developed to pretty much non-existent (Not sure you can still have a spoiler alert where there's no story but*** you put on the Iron Man suit, there's an explosion and you spin round in slo-motion with other Avengers characters flying by, or something like that!). But matching Kong VR in terms of CGI wow factor, this has to be worth a mention. The level of detail is pretty impressive.
Watched on Samsung Gear.
4. THE JUNGLE BOOK
A series of VR vignettes around the recent Jungle Book movie, these are super fun and really well done. Again, a sense-of-scale really puts VR in its element. Looking up to King Louie in his lair will certainly make the hairs on the back-of-your-neck stand to attention. Here, more effort has been made to give a sense of character and a full 360 audio spatial mix works brings everything to life perfectly. Highly recommended.
Watched on Samsung Gear (through the Sky app).
5. JURASSIC WORLD - APATOSAURUS
So not the most recent VR experience to be made but this list wouldn't be complete without one of my all-time favourite VR experiences. From the wonderfully talented duo, Felix and Paul, this is a very simple but effective piece of work. You find yourself in the woods, sat on a log with your Jurassic World-style jeep parked neatly to one side... oh and in front of you is a giant, sleeping Apatosaurus dinosaur. With other dinosaurs flying overhead and a rich audio mix, there is a wonderful sense of atmosphere and that's before the dinosaur wakes up! It's a world I want to inhabit for much longer than it's meagre 5mins or so. Lovely stuff.
Watched on Google Cardboard (you can download the app direct from the App/Google Play Store).
Pete's Dragon 360 experience - really fun experience flying a dragon! Enough said.
Suicide Squad video game: highly addictive, arcade-style shooter that works surprisingly well using just the Samsung Gear headset. Blast, blast, blast!
The Conjuring 2: spooky old house in VR - obvsiously but well done.
All watched on Samsung Gear VR.