Day 2 of MIPTV was as busy as day 1 for our team, with back to back meetings for our sales team and non-stop demoing at our booth. The VR theatre, just next door to our booth, was also busy with people viewing our content and others, proving again that virtual reality was truly having an impact. Word was spreading around the Palais, I overhead a number of people debating the future of the industry. The questions we were being asked to us at our booth, were definitely more detailed and in-depth.
A great example of Virtual Reality and it’s successful impact came from a talk attended by our lead producer, Alex South. Formerly of the BBC, Alex’s background was in traditional television broadcasting, so was particularly interested in hearing from Russia Today. The Russian state broadcaster showed how they have successfully integrated 360 content with traditional 2D film making. Their documentary “Project Duterte” looked at how thousands of people have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed his war on drugs and crime. Street murders without trial, vigilantes joining death squads, cramped jails and destroyed lives: RT’s documentary unit combed the streets of the Philippines to hear the voices of both victim and executioner. Whilst filming the 2D documentary they also shot some scenes in 360. When the final piece was edited they showed the film online and on their app and at certain points “Easter eggs” would appear that they could click on and go to a separate 360 scene. Leaving the narrative was an issue and the better use of the VR for RT was to use the 360 scenes as trailers for the 2D content. The numbers were impressive as RT averaged around 300,000 per 360 episode and for the 6 mini documentaries they got 20 million views across the series.
Another interesting discussion was around scripted VR, and how to best produce engaging scripted Virtual Reality content. The key elements that were concluded from the discussion were that the most effective way to produce the content was to treat it like a piece of theatre. The length of the content is also a huge factor, with a full series lasting around 40minutes, broken into short 5-8 minute episodes. That in itself presents it’s own creative challenges i.e, how do you create an engaging storyline in such a short time? How does the audience get to know the characters in that time? Watch this space.