New technology allows us to tell stories in innovative ways, but we need to create great content if immersive is to be successful, says Sol Rogers.

Virtual reality (VR) content has not always been executed particularly well.

Solomon Rogers

Solomon Rogers

This is a challenge we are addressing across the industry, because VR, mixed reality (MR) and augmented reality (AR) have the power to revolutionise the mundane and enhance the way we coexist, and we need to educate consumers with a content offering they want to come back to. 

Screenless environments and meta headsets that blend the physical and digital together for a truly immersive reality are on the horizon, potentially changing the way we communicate, learn and even feel. 

The hype has waned, but an incredible amount of investment has resulted in a lot of pressure and interested buzz.

However, the business model of immersive is not set and we are trying to establish the commercial case for the longevity of immersive storytelling.

Today, immersive entertainment is rapidly developing with big names in the industry deploying content for anything from educational sharing and product launches to creating worlds and experiences complimentary - or completely foreign - from reality.

Looking back over the last year, where cameras were taped together and the post-production was messy, the evolution and pace of change has been rapid. But the next 12 to 18 months will be defining. 

”The challenge is evolving VR, MR and AR to tell stories and create the best content and not get lost in the technology”

The world of immersive is evolving with great opportunities to create amazing video content for superior distribution platforms and the demand in appetite for the best content and experiences will only get stronger. 

As part of the industry’s broader efforts to create the best experiences, last year the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) established an advisory group to help guide, educate and communicate the film, games and television industries in the opportunities and challenges of VR content creation, sharing and sustainability. 

The group is made up of technologists, content creators, and commissioners who advise Bafta on the possibility and opportunity with these new mediums. 

The advisory group’s goal is to communicate how important immersive storytelling is for the media and entertainment industry, from production through to delivery of content. We want Bafta members to experience the top VR content to effectively understand the art of the possible. 

In the not-too-distant future, I foresee a society where we will always wear smart glasses, which will overtake the dominance of the smartphone as the go-to device.

This will solve the problem of isolated experiences, as it will be possible to transform any surface into a screen for individual immersion or shared experiences. Immersive sharing will fundamentally change where we work and the way we live. No longer will consumers require TVs or devices to view content. 

Evolving VR

Enterprise across the board is showing interest in the possibilities of immersive content, including education, medical, architectural engineering and the automotive industry. 

Within the automotive industry, VR is being widely used, from the design process to marketing.

For example, more than 300 guests were transported into a specially created life-like virtual space for the Jaguar I-Pace concept launch. For the reveal, Rewind and Imagination delivered a first-of-its-kind global social VR experience. With 66 connected Vives, we delivered a multi-user experience over two continents; three live-streamed presenters in one virtual environment took the audience on a journey of discovery. 

Creating high quality VR experiences is fundamental and this is at the heart of what we do at Rewind. Our primary focus is staying at the forefront of the immersive content technology curve, to remain relevant and help grow the burgeoning immersive industry. 

Immersive storytelling will remain complimentary to traditional film and TV consumption allowing consumers another way to access content and be entertained, in much the same way TV didn’t kill radio and film didn’t kill theatre.

The challenge is evolving VR, MR and AR to tell stories and create the best content and not get lost in the technology. The future is augmenting and mixing, the idea of taking one world and using technology to reimagine it has incredible scope and possibility. 

We will get to a stage when we move beyond the term ‘immersive’ and just talk about content. 

Solomon Rogers is Founder and Chief Executive of Rewind and Chair of BAFTA’s Immersive Entertainment Advisory Group.

Interested in immersive? The NextGen: Interactive + Immersive Experiences conference track at IBC2018 will provide insight into developments within the worlds of eSports, live production, AR and social.