Slowly but surely the reputation of 3D is being resurrected in the form of virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) says Futuresource Consulting.
In its analysis of what MR and VR can do for the consumer entertainment industry, Futuresource says that it has mapped their struggles to emerge from science fiction to realise their potential to revolutionise the way we view and interact with content.
The report concedes that VR has still to find a dedicated application for home video but notes that major Hollywood studios are already taking tentative steps towards making content available in virtual reality. Early initiatives revolve around using VR as a lean back experience, viewing feature film titles within a virtual theatre environment. That said, Futuresource regards it as highly unlikely for VR feature films to be released in the short to mid-term, with studios focusing on short-form content supplementing traditional content offerings.
In the broadcast environment, the report suggests that the challenges faced in creating authentic VR video are considerable. it notes that several broadcasters have already conducted trials such as the BBC with Strictly Come Dancing and Turner Sports trialling an NBA game in VR. Futuresource sees productions remaining at an experimental stage, however, as production and post-production techniques have to almost be rewritten from scratch. Most importantly it advises that in this arena VR should be thought about as a completely separate medium and one that compliments the traditional viewing experience.
The need to wear glasses in a prescribed position was one of the nails on the coffin of 3D and VR and MR attempts to alleviate this with a specially designed headset. The report suggests though that global headset market remains in its infancy, with low level sales volumes to date, although the market will be given a significant boost over the next couple of months after January’s CES.
The analyst added that the launch of Samsung’s Gear VR consumer unit in Q4 2015 as well as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in the opening months of 2016 will transform the market with the launch of the PlayStation VR headset as well as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google-backed Magic Leap MR headsets to follow at later dates.
“Virtual reality is still very much in the ‘innovation’ stage, but this will start to change over the coming months as a variety of major first generation headsets hit the market,” commented Futuresource senior analyst Adam Cox. “Some of the world’s largest and most prominent companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Sony have a great deal of faith in the new technology and are putting in place the ecosystems required to pave the way for a successful introduction to the mass market. It is still extremely early days for VR, but with the backing of such prominent companies that have brought about significant changes in how we live our lives before, its outlook is exciting.”