WORLD VIRTUAL
Digital Studio|January 2021
Is Virtual Reality the answer to the future of immersive entertainment?
ANISHA GAKHAR

Talk to any psychologist, and he/she’d say that the purpose of media entertainment is fulfilment of gratification. It is this pursuit for satisfaction that has enabled mankind to develop several entertainment platforms throughout the history. From early-day campfire storytelling to modern day games, television and films, the entertainment industry has indeed come a long way. However, the only thing inevitable about existence is change and through modern immersive technologies, the entertainment industry is getting better by the day. The growing interest of the industry in the adoption of immersive VR experiences in delivering content which is engaging to the audience.

Virtual Reality (VR) is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment, which can be interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects in a way that he feels he is a part of it. Augmented Reality (AR), on similar lines, is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. VR and AR have been used to great success in movies and documentaries, owing to its ability to simulate an environment for a user to feel he’s right in the middle of the scene going on in a movie. This helps the user empathise with the subject matter— especially a sensitive one, which otherwise, might be difficult to convey by traditional flat screens.

The rise of AR and VR has been growing exponentially over the years and has become a real part of the production workflow. Film productions in India and Hollywood are making tremendous use of VR for previsualization. Entire digital sets are created in 3D and then seen in VR, so that the filmmakers can get a clear sense of space and location. In studio environments nowadays, using both has become a new trend, and is called Mixed Reality. Entertainment shows (The Voice, The VMA, NASCAR, Super Bowl), sports and esports (tournaments) are bringing more interactive graphics to their productions. Creating more realistic and animated graphics and backgrounds to their workflow has really given the viewer a new perspective of watching television. Digital set construction helps all stakeholders make informed decisions when the time comes to actually construct a set.

VR is also used in digital location scouting, which falls under virtual production. Famous Studios, in Mumbai, has the first ever virtual production setup in Indian film industry.

In certain segments, especially broadcast and live sports production, the use of AR/VR has risen significantly. The key objective behind using these tools is to curate powerful stories. Broadcasters leverage the technology to enhance their content, along with making it immersive and interactive. This is particularly important in a scenario, where the competition is strong and stakes are high. The sports universe has seen a new emphasis on fan engagement, as sports teams and stadia try to tempt audiences off their sofas and into the stadium for the live game experience. In both of these domains, there has been a welcome emphasis on creating a better ‘product’ through creative tools that are centred on audience engagement.

VR has seen considerable investment in past decade, thus, advancing steadily as a technology that will gain mass adoption in the years to come. Each year is brings more innovation on hardware and software— accompanied by price affordability. These spatial computing tools have wearable variants to, which are extensively being used by R&D companies.

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