Understanding virtual reality
This year, names like Oculus and Samsung will bring the world of VR into the mainstream. With VR becoming more accessible and applicable, companies in the know are scrambling to jump on the bandwagon by creating on-brand realities that engage their audiences through a more immersive medium.
But what is virtual reality? And how can you employ it to a brand's advantage? The first step is to understand the nuances of storytelling in a virtual world. After this, you need to select which type of virtual reality experience is the most relevant to your brand story.
3D animated virtual reality
Imagine you're living in a vibrant Pixar film – that's where a well-executed 3D virtual reality experience should transport you to. Rather than present reality, animated virtual reality amplifies the experience by allowing viewers to be transported into new worlds, undiscovered places and shifting times.
In a groundbreaking project we recently launched, we retold the ancient Aboriginal tale of Tibrogargan through the magic of VR. At its launch in Sydney, delighted viewers were engrossed in captivating stereoscopic scenes, carrying audiences to alternating points of view; that of a human being that felt speck-like amongst the colossal landscape of Tibrogargan's backdrop, and the other, embodying the giants themselves from a lofty viewpoint.
3D animated content can also be used in more serious applications such as education or training, especially given the rise of more affordable mobile virtual reality devices. And it can be incorporated into motion capture technology, which translates body movements into a virtual experience using sensors, making for a truly immersive encounter.
Live action virtual reality
Alternatively, live action virtual reality encourages users to interact with the featured reality, making them an active character in the narrative. Scenes re-created for this type of virtual reality could be activities such as a death-defying stunt, a trip to outer space, or a sporting experience like this one we did called Wallabies All Access.
A scene for live action could be pre-captured or live streamed. Recently, the United Nations rolled out a VR project as a cross-cultural bridge between restricted communities. Users were transported to a Jordanian refugee camp, an Ebola-infected Liberian slum, and war-torn Palestine.
Similarly, we have also recently completed a project with the World Bank that presents the story of post-conflict in the Solomon Islands. Within VR, the possibilities are endless, only bridled by the extent of human imagination.
Gearing up for virtual reality
Virtual reality is popularly experienced via HMDs (head-mounted devices), ranging from Google's humble yet ingeniously-designed Cardboard to the slick'n'snazzy FOVE VR, which is equipped with an infrared sensor in the headset that allows for interactive eye-tracking.
But headgear isn't all of it. Recently, the US Army set-up a virtual reality dome to study a soldier's cognitive abilities while on the battlefield. The dome is a concave system that offers a full 180-degree horizontal field using high-density front projection which creates a rich, high-resolution visual realm. Modelled after real world locations and scenes, this dome offers a genuinely seamless dip into virtual reality, employing motion capture virtual reality and soon to feature even more inventive attributes, such as low-frequency vibration, directional wind, and full-body motion capture.