Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

Virtual Reality and Film Making

I think that 2015 will bring profound advances in Augmented and Virtual Reality with the introduction of practical consumer devices. I was reading a recent article at about VR and how it might be used in film making and it occurred to me that this application might be a fascinating change in how movies are made. Imagine that if instead of you seeing exactly one view of a scene you were able to look around and literally be immersed in the movie. With VR you are wearing a headset that provides your entire view as opposed to AR where you see through glasses and additional information is layered on them.

VR can be either entirely graphically generated or a video view. The two might be merged enough to have the non-action or focus part of the scene be video and the remainder be graphically generated.

This would mean that VR would change film making entirely in that the “set” would be a 360 degree environment or sphere around the camera and that no crew or non-actors could be visible. There would be no props on the set but instead the set would consist of reality. You might miss aspects of the action if you happened to be looking in the wrong direction which would mean that the action would have to be compelling enough to draw your attention but being able to replay scenes and look around would be fascinating and completely suspend disbelief. The experience might even make you believe that you were a participant observer in the scene rather than just a viewer.

When I think of the detail provided by directors such as Ridley Scott and Stanley Kubrick it would be exciting to experience what they could provide in detail all around you. For example every time I watch Blade Runner I notice some detail that I had not seen or focused on previously. A VR movie could be filmed by having the director carry a camera around that filmed everything around them or perhaps even a drone with the director off the speaking to the actors. Dramatic moments could consist of not just what the primary actors are doing but also reactions and expressions of all of the actors. VR would allow the viewer to “zoom in” or perhaps even walk up to everything in the scene. Each viewing of the movie could provide an entirely different experience. The richness of the opportunity provided to the director might also significantly increase the cost of and time required to make a film because of the significant amount of planning and preparation required but the result could be a much more believable experience.