As the organizer of the NY Video Meetup for the past five years, I get to see a lot of company pitches. There are some that fit into trends, some that seem a bit crazy, and every now and then a few that clearly give you a glimpse into where video is going.
This week one trend became extraordinarily clear. There is a movement in the video space from old, flat 2D video to the fast-arriving world of 360 video, known within the industry as VR video.
Virtual reality gives consumers the ability to explore inside video content. Wearing a virtual reality headset, they can stream immersive videos and take control of a 360 degree video environment. While it's early days, brands are using VR to blur the lines between entertainment and advertising. If you're driving in the front seat of a Porsche and enjoying the experience of driving on a race track, is that a commercial or a piece of entertainment that can sell cars? As more and more consumers find they don't want to be sold, VR provides brands with a new way to entertain and expose consumers to their brands and products.
The first event that I attended was the Pivot Conference VR Showcase called "Virtual Reality For Brands."
The Pivot Conference has been taking place for five years, and this year it added a series of single-subject evening showcase events to the day-long conference. The idea is to learn from, interact with and build relationships with your peers as attendees experience VR for themselves and learn how brands and organizations can take advantage of the fully immersive customer experience that the coming VR explosion can offer. The event offered hands-on experiences with Oculus Rift, Samsung VR Gear, Microsoft Hololens and Google Cardboard.
I was surprised at the quality of the VR presentations and the depth and technical knowledge of both the attendees and the presenters.
One thing was clear at the Pivot event: brands are going to be moving fast to embrace both monoscopic and stereoscopic 360 degree VR.
Then, two nights later, we introduced Alejandro Dinsmore and his company EEVO to the NY Video Community. EEVO is a creator-focused platform for high-quality VR content, offering streaming and download functionality across all hardware platforms.
EEVO delivers VR experiences to a wide audience by creating a curated distribution system for the best virtual reality content. It's a platform where a select set of visionary creators can share their work with viewers looking to experience the new world of VR storytelling, and from the reaction in the crowd, the creative community is ready to rock.
Afterward a the social hangout the follows each meetup. And this night the crowd gathered around Alejandro and his Samsung Gear VR rig and basically didn't want to let him leave.
Then, two days later, the NY Times announced that the weekend of November 7th and 8th, it would partner with Google to ship a free Google Cardboard headset to all of it's 1.1 million print subscribers. Together the partners will deliver a series of VR short films via the NYT VR app for iOS and Android. The app's first film "The Displaced" follows three refugee children from Syria, South Sudan, and eastern Ukraine. This is clearly a new way to present topical stories with video.
Brands. Destinations. The NY Times. Virtual Reality video is moving quickly from early adopters to the mainstream. Oh, and then there's Facebook. We'll have to wait and see what Mark Zuckerberg has in mind for Oculus Rift, which Facebook paid 2 billion dollars for in 2014. Said Zuckerberg of his commitment to Rift: "VR is the next great tech platform that's going to define the way we connect in the future. In just a few years, VR has gone from a sci-fi dream to an awesome reality."
And based on the week I just had, I have to say I think he's right.
Here's a list of the companies I saw at Pivot - along with links you can use to check out their tech as well. Enjoy!
Jaunt showed some truly remarkable hardware. Cameras that shoot cinematic virtual reality (VR). These professional-grade camera systems are specifically designed for capturing fully immersive, 360-degree cinematic VR experiences. The camera, named "NEO" was designed for VR, the culmination of two and a half years of extensive research and development, prototyping, and field testing. One thing is for certain, there's lots of hardware out there and not all of it is built to produce remarkable VR. Jaunt is a winner.
DODOcase is a provider of custom cardboard virtual reality kits to brands and advertisers.
Little star is a platform working with brands in virtual reality, 360 video, and immersive experiences. They've landed big gigs with companies like Red Bull, Nat Geo WILD, Discovery, Disney, PBS, and more using the platform. Little star provides content for VR devices including Samsung Gear VR, native mobile apps, and the web.
Groove Jones is a studio run by creatives. They don't want to be limited by committees, bureaucracy or focus groups. Together the team is creating remarkable VR experiences.
Groove Jones Presents: Porsche Virtual Reality Experience.
VR Global is a New York based company that offer a fully customized white labeled applications for Real Estate, Hospitality, Education, Entertainment, and Healthcare.