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Is VR on its way to reaching a 100m user tipping point?

Read our interview with Will McMaster keynote speaker at ORAMA on the 1st of April.

· Interviews

Will McMaster is a Cannes award-winning documentary filmmaker and Head of VR at Visualise. Since joining Visualise, he has directed over 25 VR experiences, and oversaw the creation of dozens more.

He obviously believe that Virtual reality is not just an hype , but it can be considered the medium of the future (we agree). However there are some challenges that need to be overcome. 

We have met Will for a quick chat.

Could you tell us a bit about the work you do at Visualise? How do you make the decisions to take on projects that you believe are suitable for virtual reality?

As Head of VR at Visualise I'm responsible for ensuring the projects we do are both technically perfect, and creatively well executed for the medium of VR. Often times when a client comes to us with a project idea, its only a rough outline, and we get to work with them flesh the idea out.

This scenario tends to make for the best VR projects, when we can start broadly and then refine the idea so that it works in a VR headset. The best VR projects play to the strengths of the medium. Usually that includes things like taking the viewer somewhere they couldn't otherwise go, or projects that involve taking the user to a moody or intriguing environment. Other projects that really play to the strenghts of VR are projects which are more character driven. Feeling close to other people is really powerful in VR, so things like documentaries where you feel close to the person being interview work well. 

I would wager that once VR headsets are used by 100m people, that tipping point will happen, and we will reach a billion a few years after. Until we reach that moment big companies will have to heavily subsidise content creation, which they do now.

Visualise believes in the future of virtual reality, and that it is a strong marketing platform that is here to stay and to grow. In your opinion, what are the obstacles that VR is facing in becoming a more widely used medium?

I think the main obstacles to VR becoming something that a billion people use every day are large, but not insurmountable. A number of different things will come together to make this happen. 

Firstly, the headsets themselves have to become cheaper, lighter, and higher resolution. We still have a ways to go there, and will look back at the headsets of today as being hilariously oversized, much like how we see mobile phones from the early 90s today. The second thing that needs to happen is that the installed userbase of VR headsets needs to grow to about 100 million users so that the market for content is much bigger. This will drive higher quality experiences which will drive adoption more. 

I would wager that once VR headsets are used by 100m people, that tipping point will happen, and we will reach a billion a few years after. Until we reach that 100m mark, companies like Facebook and Google will have to heavily subsidise content creation, which they do now.

What is one VR/AR project that you would like to work on in 2017?

My dream project is a photo realistic 3D scan of an old English house decked out as it would have been hundreds of years ago. Every object in a room is able to be picked up. With that environment, I want to tell a ghost story about the inhabitants of the house. VR has the incredible ability to transport you to another place, but so far no one has really experimented with its ability to transport you to another time. 

Do you want to know more about the future of immersive storytelling?

Join Will at ORAMA on the 1st of April.

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