Facebook is out to prove that virtual reality is more real than its detractors think, erecting an in-house studio to create fully immersive films on its Oculus Rift platform. If the medium is to be widely accepted by advertisers then the social network needs to show how the learnings can convey a more tangible form of the brand experience.
The technology giant’s virtual reality push is on. Four films are in various stages of production that will flout the Oculus Rift headset’s potential to change movie production. The first feature, titled “Lost”, debuts at this week’s Sundance Film Festival where those who try it will feel like they are traversing a virtual environment that reacts to their actions at certain points.
Experiential goes digital
Instead of channelling its energies into gaming, like many thought it would after the Oculus Rift buy last year, Facebook’s proposition for the platform looks likely to push the more mainstream movie format. This is backed by the calibre of expertise brought in to steer the project, including industry veterans from Pixar Animations Studios and Lucasfilm.
While the films are unlikely to impact the Facebook user experience in the near term, the learnings could pave the way for more experiential online activations in the future. Brands such as Nissan, Samsung and Coca-Cola have already tested the space, championing its potential to build brands through immersive experiences rather than interruptive messages.
But industry experts urge caution. Virtual reality won’t transform marketing tactics or business plans within the next year or two they add, and the cost of entry to the expensive tools could limit it initially to only a handful of brands, consequently stunting innovation.
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