Vir­tual Re­al­ity be­ing touted as fu­ture of film tech­nol­ogy

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SCIENCE & TECH -

BU­SAN: Vir­tual Re­al­ity will change the face of cin­ema in the next decade — but only if con­tent keeps up with the ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, in­dus­try ex­perts at the Bu­san In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val pre­dict.

VR is al­ready be­ing heav­ily pro­moted by the tech gi­ants, with Face­book and Mi­crosoft launch­ing new head­sets they hope will en­sure the for­mat goes main­stream.

Stu­dios and film-mak­ers are also poised to cap­i­talise, as cin­ema in­dus­try re­ports es­ti­mate VR could gen­er­ate as much as US$75 bil­lion (RM322.5 bil­lion) a year in rev­enues by 2021.

Ear­lier this year, the IMAX chain opened its first VR cin­ema in Los An­ge­les, while the lead­ing film fes­ti­vals — in­clud­ing Cannes, Venice, and Tribeca — now have sec­tions ded­i­cated to recog­nis­ing ground-break­ing work in the medium.

“Face­book and Ap­ple are pour­ing bil­lions of dol­lars into this in­dus­try and these hard­ware de­vel­op­ments are key but it will all come down to con­tent and we are ex­cited by the way that is de­vel­op­ing,” ex­plained Korean-Amer­i­can film­maker Eu­gene Chung, whose pro­duc­tion “Ar­den’s Wake” won the Best Vir­tual Re­al­ity award at Venice in Septem­ber.

Chung in­sisted the for­mat is go­ing to shift pub­lic per­cep­tion and ex­pec­ta­tions of cin­ema.

“We’re re­ally build­ing the fu­ture,” he said.

But revo­lu­tions in cin­ema do not al­ways play out; de­spite their early hype, 3D movies have strug­gled to ri­val tra­di­tional film con­sump­tion.

IMAX has scaled back its 3D screen­ings, while box of­fice fig­ures in the US show de­clin­ing au­di­ence in­ter­est, ac­cord­ing to the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica.

But pro­po­nents of VR in­sist this time, it is dif­fer­ent, and the for­mat is likely to suc­ceed be­cause it fully im­merses view­ers in the imag­i­nary en­vi­ron­ment.

BIFF pro­gram­mer Park Jin, who or­gan­ised the event’s VR sec­tion, which com­prises more than 30 fea­tures, doc­u­men­taries and an­i­ma­tions, de­scribed VR as the “fu­ture of cin­ema”.

In Bu­san there has been a huge buzz around the VR pro­gramme, with con­stant queues to ex­pe­ri­ence what is on of­fer — both in­di­vid­ual booths and a cin­ema are show­cas­ing films.

“It feels a bit strange at first, a bit like a game, but once I got used to the equip­ment it was quite ex­cit­ing,” said 60-year-old Kim Young-min, who had come to BIFF to take in a ret­ro­spec­tive of leg­endary Korean ac­tor Shin Seong-il but had been lured over to the VR show by her daugh­ter.

Ex­perts say therein lies the catch — the “com­puter game” feel to some shows can be a lit­tle off-putting.

“We need to find some emo­tion and how to en­gage the viewer in that,” said film­maker Che Min-Hyuk, a pro­ducer at the VR Lab run by Korean me­dia in­dus­try gi­ants CJ.

“As film­mak­ers with VR we still don’t re­ally know how far it will take us and the au­di­ence.”

We need to find some emo­tion and how to en­gage the viewer in that. As film­mak­ers with VR we still don’t re­ally know how far it will take us and the au­di­ence. – Che Min-Hyuk, film­maker

— AFP photo

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-In (cen­tre) wears a vir­tual re­al­ity (VR) head­set dur­ing the Bu­san In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

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