Why create VR?

Before we get into the technical aspects of 360 video,  I want to contemplate for a minute- why create in this medium?

Before going into any big project or endeavor, it’s worth thinking about why you’re doing it. And for me, personally, I’m interested in VR because it’s a frontier. It’s a relatively new medium- piece of VR have been around for some decades, but nothing has ever come close to the amount of VR that’s accessible to people around the world, and will continue to expand rapidly. It’s very interesting because it’s this frontier of media. Film has been around for 100 years. Photos have been around for 200 or whatever. Printing press has been around for 500 years. VR is really new, so people haven’t figured it out yet- to me, that’s what’s really interesting. 

That also goes hand in hand with the other really really powerful thing about VR, is that it is one of- if not the- most immersive medium that humanity has ever created. Now, I would caution against correlating “immersive’ with “impactful” or “evocative” or “thought provoking’ or “powerful” as other media, like great literature or great movies, or an impassioned speech. 

But we don’t know that VR can’t have the same impact as those other types of media. And in fact, I think it has the potential to be viewed on the same level as those other media, as a legitimate outlet for human communication. But this is all new, nobody’s figured it out yet, it’s a work in progress.

One other thing I want to talk about it- that’s our big picture backdrop, but another thing to contemplate is, as with any new technology, we have to figure out how to incorporate it into our society. And how is it a technology that’s net positive, that promotes the values we want to promote as a society? So using this new technology appropriately. And humans have obviously had a very mixed back with technology, and there’s no reason to think VR will be any different. There’s gonna be some great things about it, there’s gonna be some terrible things about it, and our goal, our job, as VR content creators and proselytizers of the medium potentially, is to make sure as much good comes out of this powerful technology as possible, and we don’t end up in a world of troll hounded, VR porn viewing addicts, that the couch potato that’s watching TV doesn’t become a VR potato, but in reality no one knows how all this is going to play out. So the best thing we can do in my opinion is to try and facilitate the most compelling uses of VR for human benefit. And it’s up to you what you view as that benefit- it’s just another communication medium- but I would hope that you think about this as you go to create your first VR project- is this going to help make the world a better place?  Or are you just going to create VR porn? Which is fine, but do something else too- something meaningful.

And I would love feedback on how, together, we can make these virtual worlds that we’re guiding people through, worlds that broaden people’s perspectives. I think that’s one of the great amazing things about media is that you get a new perspective on life. VR enables you to experience someone else’s perspective almost as if it was your own. It lets you recall past experiences you had in the most realistic way that humans have ever devised, which is a pretty powerful thing. 

But it also has the potential to harm. So do good instead. 

Every single person who sits down to watch 30 seconds or 2 minutes or 5 minutes or even your 30 minute long opus, your virtual reality opus, they’re giving one of the most valuable gifts that anyone can part with in 2017, your attention. So be courteous, be cognizant of the fact that they’re giving their attention to you for that short amount of time. And in return, you’re giving them an experience. Hopefully a well thought out, beautiful, horrifying, magical, moving experience. So you’re being given a gift, and that gift is an opportunity for you to broaden someone’s perspective on this planet. Maybe by the time you’re reading this, a different planet. So be grateful for that opportunity, and be mindful of the fact that if you produce even a very short but well thought out piece, that is going to be a better thing for the planet, for humanity, than a bunch of garbage that you put out because it’s 360 and it looks cool.

So something to consider. I’m still working on this all the time, no one ever has it figured out, and I’m looking forward to seeing the good work!

Will Stauffer-Norris

McCall, ID, USA