ARTICLE BY ROBIN SANDERS
Since April of 1977, the annual NAB Show has attracted the biggest and best in broadcasting and TV technology. In earlier years, NAB attendees have had the chance to witness reveals of groundbreaking technology like HDTV that would change the way content is consumed around the world. With that world today evolving at an unprecedented pace, media, entertainment and technology are merging to allow creators and developers to explore the capabilities of such combinations. This year, NAB introduced this idea as the M.E.T effect, with innovators from all ecosystems coming to display their work at the show. With 360-video, VR, AR and other immersive media at the forefront of new media format, many different topics were of interest. Two key takeaways include the disruption VR will have in advertising and the content-driven future of VR.
How will VR Disrupt Advertising?
With the infrastructure for virtual reality being spearheaded by technology companies like Google and Facebook, VR content has opened up a new space for total immersion in media content. Such experiences will be urgently pursued by advertising companies looking to immerse target consumers who want more from what is being referred to as “advertainment”.
VR and AR both offer different tools that can be leveraged to gain more customers. While VR provides the aforementioned immersive environment, AR transports virtual content to the real world, where traditional advertisements and actual products can be viewed in a more immersive experience. 360-degree imaging also provides users a way of looking at products in a completely new way.
At various booths, companies like Digital Domain and 360 Designs demonstrate their equipment and how their creators are able to visualize environments and concepts in VR/AR. With the combination of VR and live streaming, events like the Oscars and Coachella take advantage of this new field of advertising to market their events with more exciting and immersive content.
Coca-Cola lets users experience Christmas spirit through its immersive 360-degree VR experience as Santa Claus’s front seat passenger in his sleigh
And this is just the beginning. Companies in completely different industries, like Coca-Cola and Volvo, have already begun to implement VR in their campaigns. With possibilities just now being explored by companies, consumer engagement stands to rise dramatically as virtual reality continues to become implemented to make viewers want more.
Creators Will Shape the Direction of VR.
When virtual reality was first introduced to consumers, salient limiting factors included availability, usability, and quality of VR headsets. Early products were perceived as difficult to use and expensive, with early adopters being limited to hardcore gamers and industry professionals. Over the last few years, however, technology has drastically improved and costs have dropped. Subsequently, headsets are now being offered to the masses by companies like Samsung and Google, who provide inexpensive products compatible with the majority of cell phones.
As more consumers use VR technology, cost barriers decrease and possibilities increase. As the environment currently stands, it will be up to the creators to determine exactly why and what users will do with their VR experience.
Last year at NAB, multiple live sessions covered topics related to content like “Live Streaming Virtual Reality” and “Post-Produced Virtual Reality”. This year, a Virtual & Augmented Reality Pavilion allows attendees to see first-hand the equipment and content that is changing how stories are told and films are made. Another showcase, the Kaleidoscope VR Showcase, presents featured content from all around the world, giving those present a well-rounded perception of global VR endeavors.
Digital Domain demonstrates in a featured video how VR content extends across many different domains. Shown above is Icelandic singer Bjork using 360-degree imaging in her music video for “Stonemilker”
The widespread availability of new technology means that a new wave of VR content is on the horizon. At NAB alone, 38 different booths showcased their creations for the VR industry. Digital Immersion, for example, displayed 360-degree content they made for French companies in the fashion and automakers. At another booth, Japan-based Jolly Good creates web content and television programming. How these creators choose to come up with content will dictate the reasons why users engage in this new field.