Video production takes an audience member to a place that they could never imagine going to. Whether it is climbing up Mount Everest or even watching a high profile soccer game live, the philosophy behind the technology is giving the audience a new experience. The development of Virtual Reality (VR) technology is the next step in video production. While VR is still in its early years there are examples where it is being used to enhance the viewer’s experience over the top of usual video production. Here we look at two developments in VR technology: outdoor filmmaking and sports broadcasting.
Most people will only experience Everest through the prism of video production. There have been several great documentaries on making the difficult ascent and some truly spectacular footage captured by talented outdoor filmmakers. This year a new video experience of Everest was released: Everest VR. According to Mashable, the project is the brainchild of Icelandic VR company Sólfar in partnership with Oculus Rift headsets. The VR experience allows users to experience climbing Everest using Oculus Touch. Users can also use ‘God Mode’ that allows them to travel around the mountain via teleportation.
This development in VR tech throws up some interesting questions about video production. Outdoor video production shows the audience what the director wants them to see. VR technology is taking the control out of the director’s hands and putting it into the viewer’s. Yet for the moment it is clear that VR can’t replicate the power of quality outdoor video production. The Verge in their article on Everest VR stated that while good fun, the experience was undercut by how effortless it was to reach the summit in the VR. The advantage of video production is that it can make the viewer not only feel like they are there but also feel the struggle to reach places such as the summit of Everest.
Sport is the obvious place where VR technology can really enhance a viewer’s experience. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport and trials are being constantly done to incorporate VR into the broadcasts of live games. Last year Digital Sport wrote that UEFA tested VR cameras during the semi finals of the Champions League competition. The site reported that included in the VR experience were 360 videos of training sessions, press conferences, a pre-game tour stadium and key positions during the matches.
Bernard Ross, head of UEFA TV production, spoke of how he wanted the technology to become part of the soccer experience:
“It’s UEFA’s goal that one day the watching fan, wherever they may be in the world, will be able to watch the match through immersive virtual reality and experience the game as if they are in the stadium.”
The future of soccer broadcasting is very exciting and even matches such as the first Manchester City versus Real Madrid semi final, which according to Michael Lintorn writing for Betfair Champions League ended in a goalless draw, would be exactly the sort of high-profile match to excite the fans about the developments in VR.
Will Virtual Reality replace traditional video production? For the moment video production has the clear advantage. Yet it is also obvious that the VR tech is advancing fast and soon the viewer will become the director of their own video experiences.