Movies—we all love them (well, most of us I guess?) Over the years, as technology has evolved, so too has the world of film. From animatronics and carefully crafted miniature models to movies rendered completely in CGI, there’s little doubt that filmmaking has fundamentally changed in the last few decades. But is that as far as film goes? If there’s anything we know about many filmmakers, it’s that they push the limits when it comes to narrative and format. To this end, the Metaverse may just be the next step in how directors share experiences with audiences across the world.
Movies in VR?
Whether you know it or not, there are already a couple of movies (or perhaps experiences?) that have been produced in VR. In fact, some are a few years old now. One such production is Save Every Breath: The Dunkirk VR Experience. Here’s the rundown from Warner Bros. Pictures themselves:
Save Every Breath: The Dunkirk VR Experience will propel viewers into the action on land, sea and air. The pulse-pounding 360-degree short film immerses the viewer in the world of Christopher Nolan’s epic action thriller “Dunkirk.” Through three tightly woven sequences, the virtual reality experience offers a tantalizing taste of the much-anticipated film, in which 400,000 Allied soldiers are trapped on the beach of Dunkirk, France, with their backs to the sea as the enemy closes in. “Dunkirk” opens in conventional theatres and IMAX on July 21, 2017. http://dunkirkmovie.com/vr
So yeah, this particular experience was produced all the way back in 2017. But think about it—you could watch a movie in which you’re immersed in the action and able to experience something from several different angles, picking up on an innumerable number of small details each and every time you end up watching. This particular approach could change the way narratives work and could even have viewers themselves as the “main character.” It could also allow participants to watch a movie from more than one perspective, jumping between different characters as they all play their parts in parallel in one larger production.
Anyway, here’s a short clip of The Dunkirk VR Experience for you to check out on YouTube:
The Future of Film?
It’s a pretty weird idea watching a movie from a first-person perspective, isn’t it? Well, not really. If anything, found footage films like The Blair Witch Project are told exclusively from a first-person perspective. The format has proven so popular that it’s spawned a ton of found footage films and even successful film franchises (like Paranormal Activity for instance). And then of course there’s that awesome first-person sequence from DOOM that basically saved this otherwise not-so-great movie:
Honestly, there’s something about being immersed in the action that really makes the whole experience a lot more satisfying and intense. That’s why so many games are so popular and continue to remain as such since players feel like they are the main character fighting terrorists or avoiding ghosts or whatever.
To this end, the Metaverse could open up a whole range of possibilities for directors and change the way they tell stories and produce films. Being able to render entire environments and populate them with actors or computer-generated characters is a pretty cool concept and could change the way stories are crafted. In many respects, movies could even intertwine with and overlap with games in that players could take part in the story themselves and even alter the narrative depending on their choices. The possibilities are practically endless.
So How Far off Is It?
Well that’s a little trickier. While VR experiences are sure to increase as more users join the fray, full VR or metaverse movie productions (I’m talking like a full 90 to 120 minutes) may still be a way off. Right now there just isn’t a ton of incentive to build such experiences since the technology and audience are both still lacking in many respects. While people constantly talk about the Metaverse and developing it, it doesn’t actually exist yet.
Having said this, if you do own a VR headset, you can head right on over to VeeR and check out a whole bunch of different VR experiences and short films that are currently on offer. There’s a surprising amount of content, and a lot of it looks really impressive. Each experience may only last a few minutes, but there’s no doubt that many of them are well worth checking out.
I think it’s only a matter of time before we see a full movie production in VR or one that takes place entirely within the Metaverse (this one’s probably a little further off). It’s safe to say that more and more companies and people will be investing time and money into more immersive experiences, and as the technology continues to evolve, we’ll undoubtedly get to enjoy even more visceral and engaging experiences.
We’ll still be able to enjoy a large popcorn and soda while we watch metaverse movies though, right?