The future of entertainment may be in your face


Imagine you’re sitting at your desk. There are papers strewn about and some empty wrappers from those Halloween candies you ate last night. The floor is littered with clothes. The walls are the same boring colour they’ve always been. There’s an odd-looking headset on your desk. You put it on and suddenly everything you know is gone, replaced by a new world with all sorts of crazy possibilities.

After more than 60 years of concepts and failed attempts, virtual reality is finally ready for the limelight.

“I think it’s definitely going to change things,” said Matthew Fabb, a senior interactive developer at The Secret Location in Toronto.

VR brings a sort of presence and immersion that just isn’t possible with other mediums, and that could strengthen the viewer’s connection with the game or movie they’re experiencing.

“I think, at least in the early days of people getting used to this, it could have a fairly strong emotional impact,” said Randall Kapuscinski, who teaches in the Advanced Television & Film program at Sheridan.

“It’s hard to know whether the illusion will hold after you get used to it a little bit, or if you actually get used to it and it’s normal again,” said Kapuscinski.

Due to the increased immersion, it’s widely believed that the most obvious genre to get a boost from VR will be horror films and games.

There is already a horror show on YouTube called 360˚ Horror Series, produced by DimensionGate Inc.

The show is viewable without a VR headset, using arrow keys in the top left corner of the video, as long as you have the Chrome web browser installed.

The past couple of years has seen a sudden surge of interest in the technology.

Many companies are working on their own visions of virtual reality, including Google’s Cardboard, Oculus’ Rift, Samsung’s Gear VR, Sony’s PlayStation VR, Valve and HTC’s Vive.

With all of the money behind these projects, and the advances in technology, virtual reality has never had such a real shot of taking off.

When Palmer Luckey founded Oculus and first announced their VR headset, the Rift, no one was sure how widespread VR would become. Then Facebook threw $2 billion behind Oculus and people realized that this time VR is real.

“I think it’s going to be still a niche product for a couple of years, but I do think it’s going to be really big,” said Fabb, whose studio The Secret Location recently made history by winning the first Emmy ever awarded for a VR project.

The Emmy was for their VR teaser, Sleepy Hollow: VR Experience, which was created to promote the show’s second season.

VR is a hard concept to explain to someone, the best way to understand the technology is to experience it.

Google knows this. That’s why they’ve been working on their Cardboard VR technology for a couple of years now.

The headsets are literally made of cardboard, and allows anyone with a smartphone to make their own personal headset with some cardboard, lenses, magnets, Velcro, and a rubber band.

This has dropped the entry fee for VR to as low as $15 or less.

Pre-made Cardboards can also be purchased in many shapes and sizes from online stores like Amazon.