Oculus Rift - the much-anticipated virtual reality head-mounted display - is primarily seen as a platform for video games. The development kits currently in circulation are aimed toward creating a new kind of immersive gaming experience, and the expected consumer launch is being treated like a next-next generation console debut.
As a virtual reality platform, however, Oculus Rift has the potential to support a lot more than games. Potential consumer VR applications include education, virtual tourism, even psychotherapy. Or, say, movies.
Port Yourself Into A Video Game With Homebrew Holodeck
We're starting to see the first wave of announcements for both narrative and documentary films designed for viewing on the Oculus Rift headset. The idea, as with video games, is to create a new kind of experience where the viewer is in the middle of the action, able to look and move around in the virtual environments of the story.
VR startup Condition One announced this week the release of "Zero Point," a 3D documentary film created specifically for viewing on Oculus Rift. Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Danfung Dennis ("Hell and Back Again"), the doc explores the past, present and future of virtual reality as a technology. The movie will drop viewers into full-360 virtual environments - including military rescue scenarios (dangerous!) and the crowded halls of the E3 industry convention (more dangerous!)
Google ‘Cardboard' Offers $2 DIY Virtual Reality
Meanwhile, development studio Jamwix is taking another approach to creating movie content for Oculus Rift. By way of its software package called Chimera, the company says it can essentially retrofit existing films for viewing within the VR headset.
The studio's first offering is "Banshee Chapter: Oculus Rift Edition," which transposes the 2013 indie horror movie into what sounds like a relatively limited VR experience. In the project demo video, Jamwix CEO Bliar Erickson asks the million-dollar question: "Could you take a 3D film, put it in a virtual reality system, and you'd be able to be in the scene, and look left and right?"
If you have an Oculus Rift developer's unit, you can find out now via Jamwix.com. The rest of us will have to wait for the consumer version, expected sometime in 2015. ("Banshee Chapter," by the way, is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story "From Beyond." I don't know, this seems relevant.)
"Zero Point" is also now available for developers via Steam for $11.99, until Nov. 4. Check out the trailer: