Before getting started, you must first ask whether VR is relevant to what you’re trying to achieve.
That was the first piece of advice shared by Mellor (pictured below), a director at the live action and visual effects production company based in the United States, during his presentation at Spikes Asia.
The company’s VR Studio team has completed over 15 projects to date, including a VR-based movie tie-in experience for The Avengers: Age of Ultron and car brand Volvo, with a VR test drive of its new XC90 model.
The technology available is also another key consideration, as desired outcomes will determine which platform is best suited to the task. For highly immersive, rich experiences, using Oculus Rift or similar technology is required due to the higher processing power required for transmitting the high definition content.
If a mass audience is the aim, then using Google Cardboard would be the most suitable, as it is the most accessible and cost-effective solution. Many brands have already leveraged Cardboard to execute quick branded experiences that may not be as immersive but are still effective.
“The key thing we want to keep doing is constantly innovating and coming up with new ways to use this technology in creating content and experiences," Mellor said. "We don’t want VR to fall into the trap of being a gimmick, it needs to be relevant to people and invoke an emotional response."
The industry is still navigating the learning curve when it comes to the state of content creation with VR today, according to Mellor.
“How do you get viewers to follow the story using VR?" he asked. "No one’s nailed film technique for VR yet. If they say they have, they’re lying because we’re all still learning. Traditional film language has been around for decades but it doesn’t convert well.”
Some lessons to date from the Framestore team include:
- Scene transitions work better over cuts so viewers do not get disorientated.
- Film grade is crucial and makes a difference with colour and detail for a more realistic experience—working with professional grade equipment is needed. It’s the subtle things that one may not notice that make things feel real for viewers.
- Framing shots needs to be rethought, as you can’t throw the camera around. The viewer is in control, and that needs to be taken into account.
- It is always important to get “VR virgins” to test out your experience as regular users build up a resistance to nausea or disorientation over time.
- Creating a VR experience also allows for the opportunity to add other dimensions such motion, sound and tactile elements.
“There’s no silver bullet for VR experiences," Mellor said. "It’s all tailor-made experiences right now, and a successful project demands collaboration and early involvement. Having VR as an afterthought is not a fun situation.”
Campaign Asia-Pacific’s view: The talk was a great overview into the available tools and techniques being used today to build virtual reality experiences and how they are incorporated into larger marketing campaigns. It may sound like a broken record, but we like the fact that Mellor stressed that one should not being blinded by novelty and to be very deliberate when incorporating VR into any campaign.