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Cannes Lions 2016: 'VR Virgins' to disappear; immersive experience set to overtake TV in a few years, say experts

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Cannes Lions 2016: 'VR Virgins' to disappear; immersive experience set to overtake TV in a few years, say experts

The spotlight was on Virtual Reality and its mind-boggling potential for brands on Day 2 of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, as Mike McGee, Chief Creative Officer & Co Founder, Framestore and Karen Boswell, Interactive Lead,   adam&eve DDB took to the stage to discuss ‘Establishing a VR Roadmap for Creative Industries’ along with Stephen Lepitak, Editor of The Drum. They anticipated the next big changes in the industry in the realm of technology in marketing, taking VR out of the preserve of sci-fi, and into people’s day-today lives.

Though VR has entrenched itself in marketing, it is still at an embryonic stage of development, said the panel, pointing out the huge scope of VR for the industry and the possibility that it will one day overtake Television. While TV shares a story, VR shares an experience with the aid of cutting edge technology, and a Deloitte report pegs VR as a billion dollar industry by 2016. 

The aim is to target ‘VR Virgins’, i.e, those still uninitiated into the world of Virtual Reality, and extend the experience to them – convincing advertisers to take the brave leap into an immersive world of technology. “We are excited about headsets in living rooms,” said Boswell.

“VR is an evolution of story-telling. The idea is to keep people locked in that moment, so that they really feel immersed in the experience, using different technologies to create visual effects. Augmented reality, which a few years back meant reading QR codes, has evolved into Microsoft’s HoloLens technology where you put on a set of glasses and move into a different world. VR blocks out the real world, and you are truly transported to places inside the VR world. Real VR as we call it is game engine technology, where everything is rendered in 3D, but everything is also reacting and acting in real time around you. So, you can move through environments, touch things, look around objects and it feels like the real world,” said Mike Mcgee.  

So where does VR come from and where does it go? “For me, it’s come from seeking more immersive experiences. Look at how far the technology has come from that very primitive headset just about two years ago. We have created over 20 high end experiences. We work across every platform providing really immersive interactive content, with improved resolution. Companies say they need quality content to give people really exciting, really engaging first time experiences,” said Karen Boswell.

Brands are already using VR in many ways – Virgin Atlantic offers a ‘try before you fly’ experience, Volvo offered a VR test-drive of a yet-to-be-launched car – and VR is also being used as a safe environment to get rid of fears.

The next big thing in VR is an immersive experience without headsets – a shared VR experience. Calling it the Holy Grail of VR, Boswell cited an interesting case study in the UK, where for the first time, a group had a virtual reality experience minus headsets. The brief was to let children experience what it was like to be on the surface of Mars. So, an ordinary school bus was taken, children put on it as though they were on a trip to Mars. “We replaced all the windows on the bus with computer screens. The screens turned the windows of the bus into Mars. The kids had an amazing time, sharing this experience together,” said Boswell. “It turned the whole environment into one big VR headset.”

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