"[They get that] the greater degree of the immersion, the greater degree that we like it. One of the best pieces of VR from that point of view is Paranormal Activity (below), because even though you're in a room and you know people are staring at you, you still get frightened. It still makes you jump. I think they do a terrific job with that."
Roy also mentions The Martian as an example of a notable film-related VR project. However, he notes, it wasn't a complete success with audiences.
"I took an aggregate of the all the online reviews I read," he says. "A lot of people liked it a lot. But at $20, they thought it was overpriced. They did not like the cutscenes. When I experienced it, I didn't like the cutscenes either, but I did like the interaction [and] the narrative. I thought the end of the experience when they shoot you off into space was terrific."
This illustrates the challenge for VR content creators. We're still experimenting with the form, but we need to keep giving customers experiences that don't put them off. And as/if the audience grows, we've got to adapt to the changes in who those users are - both their interests and experience with VR. The non-interactive parts of The Martian that didn't appeal to the early-adopter gamers who played might have appealed to a wider audience.
What we have learned so far, Roy says, is that some formats work well and others don't - and that the human brain can take in a lot more information in VR than it can in on a 2D screen.
"There are certain situations where you will never want to replace having control of the camera - romances for example. Romance doesn't lends itself well to VR," he says. "On the other hand, big complex scenes with lots of camera angles do lend themselves very well. [At BAFTA] I showed two clips that are very good example of where VR would work even better than a traditional camera.
"One is the donut scene from Boogie Nights (below) - one guy shoots another guy, who shoots another guy and then everyone's dead. There's nine different cameras angles in five seconds, because it's complex to follow everything that's going on."
Roy says that our brains would have processed that scene in VR better - as we would in reality - because our brains are designed to take in a lot of data from a three-dimensional world almost instantly, in a way it doesn't from a flat screen. It does that because, back when human beings were at the mercy of predators, our lives depended on it.
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