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VR movie pioneer on the challenges and future of virtual reality filmmaking

Hayden Dingman | April 10, 2014
There isn't even a consumer-ready virtual reality headset on the market yet, but that isn't stopping a few filmmakers from thinking it's the future. One of the pioneers in the area is Condition One's Zero Point--a film that's as much a discussion of VR's potential as it is a showcase for new technology.

Do you think this technology will be best-suited for documentary-type films? I mean, documentaries normally have light crews and you're not spending an hour on lighting to get a shot — you have to take the shot in the moment. Do you see narrative films being made with this tech?

Dennis: I'm personally interested in a hybrid between the two. We have an advantage in that we can capture the real world. There are CG films that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and that can create anything. We have the advantage that we can just set up our camera at a real-world location and start filming.

But because the limitations of capture — we're capturing a GB per second, we're filling up hard drives like that — you don't have the freedom of a documentary. I filmed over a hundred hours for Hell and Back Again. [With this tech], we had to roll and get what we need and then just cut it right there.

So I think narrative placed into real-world environments that are interesting and people want to go to is going to work best at first, because we can stage the shots and move the camera exactly how we want to move it, but we're not trying to create an entire scene from scratch. So we're looking at different levels of intensity for these hybrid films. Some are really extreme for people who want intense experiences — maybe a horror film shot in a real-life slaughterhouse. That would be disturbing and terrifying.

My preference would probably be a calm walk along the beach or in a forest. Relaxation-type apps. We think we'll have a spectrum of films that give you different types of intensities. We're finding people have different tolerances. People will take off the headset if it's too intense.


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