shots' Top 10 Most Creative VR Experiences
Ahead of MBI's VR Creative Summit, shots presents ten of the most creative VR experiences.
With the launch of Samsung Gear, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, 2016 has been widely trumpeted as the year that the ‘virtual’ finally becomes ‘reality’ and VR goes mainstream.
And while there’s much discussion over whether that tipping point has actually been reached, there’s no doubt virtual reality is rapidly transforming the world of advertising, marketing and branded content.
To explore the increasingly significant subject of virtual reality, shots' parent company, Media Business Insight, will be holding its inaugural VR Creative Summit at London’s Picturehouse Central on 6 December. Tickets are now available at vrsummit.co.uk.
To that end, we at shots have donned our headsets and gone boldly forth into the virtual realms of music, retail, art, sports and news to bring you our selection of the 10 most creative VR experiences. These, together with the lists curated by shots' sister brands Broadcast and Screen, will form part of Media Business Insight’s Top 30 VR Creative Selection - a selection of which will be showcased at the event on 6 December.
Dalí Museum Dreams of Dalí
Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali is synonymous with bizarre dreamscapes, and this VR experience takes things to the next level by allowing users to wander around inside his 1935 masterpiece, Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus, while listening to the artist’s musings. Created by US agency Goodby Silverstein and Partners for the Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, Dreams of Dali deservedly picked up a Cyber Gold Lion in Cannes this year.
The Guardian 6x9
Created in partnership with The Mill London, the Guardian's first foray into virtual reality is an attempt to highlight the psychological effects of solitary confinement, a common practice in US prisons. Users are confined in a virtual cell of the claustrophobic dimensions referred to in the title, while listening to the narratives of former prisoners and experiencing hallucinations and flashbacks. Shown at Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals, 6x9 – along with The New York Times’ The Displaced [see below] – illustrates the empathetic power of the medium and the important role VR could play in news journalism in the future.
For more insight, read our Q&A with The Mill's creative director Carl Addy and The Guardian's special projects editor Francesca Panetta.
In releasing a VR music video to accompany their new single Kids, US pop-rock band OneRepublic are the latest in a long line of artists to do so: U2, Muse, Paul McCartney and Bjork [see below] have all embraced the medium with varying degrees of success. But Kids, spearheaded by Chris Milk’s pioneering VR studio, Here Be Dragons, stands out for two things: its industry-first use of the Nokia OZO virtual reality camera and an engaging narrative. Directed by promo veteran Hal Kirkland, the film follows two would-be lovers living in opposite apartments separated by an alleyway, who seem destined never to be together before they eventually meet at - where else? - a OneRepublic concert.
AND Festival In The Eyes Of The Animal
If you’ve ever wanted to experience a bird’s, dragonfly’s or frog’s-eye view of the world, this imaginative VR experience, developed by London-based design studio Marshmallow Laser Feast, offers the chance to ‘inhabit’ those creatures as they soar, buzz and hop through a fantastical computer-generated forest. Shot in the UK’s Grizedale Forest using a combination of drones and bespoke 360º cameras and featuring a binaural soundtrack of woodland sounds, the film premiered at AND Festival 2015 where users could experience the film in a ‘live’ woodland setting by slipping on foliage-covered Oculus Rift headsets and haptic harnesses. In The Eyes of the Animal has since toured internationally and was shown at Sundance this year.
Lockheed Martin Field Trip to Mars
Most virtual reality experiences by definition imply putting on some sort of headset. However, advanced technology company Lockheed Martin defied tradition earlier this year when it created the world’s first group experience through McCann New York and Framestore. A group of American schoolkids were transported to Mars, after climbing aboard a seemingly standard-looking yellow schoolbus. Bespoke technology – like high definition 4k window screens which responded in real time to the bus' movements, a laser surface velocimeter that scanned the outside road and sound effects to simulate the sandstorm they drove through – enabled the kids to feel like they were actually exploring Mars by car. No wonder it scooped 19 Lions at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. The experience was created to inspire the generation that will (most likely) travel to the Red Planet, although it also paved the way for more intimate, interactive and shared VR fun.
The New York Times The Displaced
It’s difficult to imagine a crowd of 60 million people, yet that’s the number of people worldwide that escaped war and persecution last year. Inspired by this, the New York Times’ VR experience uses the stories of three children aged between nine and 12 to document the desperation and reality of being evicted. Spearheaded by VRSE.works (since rebranded as Here Be Dragons), The Displaced occurs in the shell-shocked remains of Ukraine, the crocodile-ridden swamps of South Sudan and the refugee settlement sites of Lebanon. The 11-minute-long experience enables viewers to imagine living in each environment; endure the hardships encountered by kids; and consider what prospects lie ahead for them.
Samsung Be Fearless
While some feel the fear and do it anyway, there are others who are left crippled by their phobias. Cheil Worldwide used VR to help the fearless overcome their anxieties through continuing Samsung's #BeFearless campaign. After receiving 7,500 applications worldwide, the team selected 27 participants to undergo a four-week intense training programme geared at fighting their fears of heights and public speaking. Applicants were put through a series of rigorous assessments using Samsung Gear VR before having to endure an epic zip-line through the city or publicly addressing a live audience.
Read more about the campaign here.
Cirque Du Soleil KÀ The Battle Within
Montreal-based VR studio Felix & Paul recently returned for a second VR collaboration with theatrical entertainment company Cirque du Soleil. Following the success of its debut experience Inside the Box of Kurios last year, the second installation – KÀ The Battle Within – promises as much action by placing you in the heart of the circus troupe amongst the cartwheeling acrobats. The 13-minute-long experience will transport you to the heart of the dancefloor, where epic clashes between Oriental and Central Asian fighters will have you tapping your feet to rhythmic bells or admiring the compelling costumes and gawping at the spectacular body paint.
O2 Wear The Rose
Billed as the world’s first immersive 360 live-action gaming experience, this Gevog Karensky-directed VR experience for O2 is an early yet still engaging example of using virtual reality in a sports context. Released to coincide with the 2014 Six Nations Rugby tournament, Wear The Rose puts the Oculus Rift-wearing user at the centre of a training session headed up by England coach Mike Catt, featuring dynamic team drills, pep talks and player/game stats. The design process, handled by London innovation production studio UNIT9 involved 160 hours of filming, 320 hours of development and a custom-built gimble housing nine GoPro cameras.
Bjork Notget VR
Forever at the forefront of technology, Icelandic songstress Bjork recently joined forces with REWIND:VR directors Warren Dupreez and Nick Thornton Jones, to create a VR music video for the single Notget, taken from her 2015 Vulnicura album. By donning an HTC Vive headset, users experience an intimate, almost hallucinatory performance in which the singer breaks down into an ever-evolving series of particles; full-body motion tracking encourages you to explore the surrounding space and interact with Bjork's digital manifestation. Created in collaboration with PopcornFX and with the support of HTC, AMD and Intel, Notget VR was demo'ed as part of the recent Bjork Digital exhibition at London's Somerset House.