The Wild West was a place where the rules didn’t apply. A new frontier, a land of innovation and opportunity. A place where if you took a wrong step things ended badly.
VR circa 2016 is a similar place, the gun slinging aside (I hope). You will find lots of incredible, dynamic new ideas but there are plenty of pitfalls too. And so it is vital, therefore, to know how to navigate the world so you don’t fall in with a bad crowd.
So here are some tips to keep you all safe.
1.THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
VR is still new and shiny. And because it is so different and impressive to those who view it, almost all of the content that is being created is cheered to the rafters and celebrated, whether it deserves to be or not. Think of The Emperor’s New Clothes, a short story by Hans Christian Andersen. Many of you will remember the story of two cunning weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible only to those who are intelligent and sophisticated. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say the obvious, until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all”. There are plenty of parallels to be drawn with VR.
And so the first piece of advice I have is please do say what you really think about VR. If it is awful. Call it out. Say, ‘I don’t get it’. Ask questions. Criticise. It is actually vitally important the future of the industry that you are robust and critical. Why?
Because every time someone puts a headset on, whether it be for the first time or the 100th time, they are making a judgement not just on the content you have produced for them, but on Virtual Reality itself. So the quality has to be great.
What does VR mean to you? These two letters have become a catch-all term to describe a plethora of new and exciting technology from 360° stills, images, computer generated worlds and even live action. In our book at Laduma, VR stands for 3D 360° video, it stands for a world that you not only see in all directions, but a world you are inside of – truly immersed in 3D. Not a world you are watching through a screen, but that you are a part of. We are one of only six agencies globally delivering content the way we do. There are thousands doing it in a variety of other ways – most produce flat 360° video, which just doesn’t offer the same level of immersion.
Leading brands are, perhaps understandably, finding the Wild West hard going. Take sport for example, one major English football club streamed a match in live 360° this summer. The experience was very poor, the experiment fell flat and the feedback was horrible. So did the person who stuck their neck out and tried to be bold and innovative for their organisation get a pat on the back and a ‘let’s do that again next week’ – what do you think? Make sure you know what you are getting.
3. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS
Rushing in because you have heard VR is the next cool thing is liable to land you in trouble. It is smart to take your time, approach the space with scepticism, do your homework and, above everything else, pick the right partner. VR isn’t like traditional content. Creating something that neither adds value, or is no better than what you already get on traditional TV or digital video means you are using VR as a gimmick, not a game-changer. At Laduma, arguably the most important stage we take our clients through is the concept: what is going to work, what won’t, are we doing this for the right reasons and what kind of VR is going to work best for your project. We can tell you how to deliver it and, crucially, how to monetise VR. Don’t get yourself into a situation where you are left with VR content and no idea what to do next.