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Can Oculus Rift create new movie experiences?

30 Oct 2014 | Rasmus Larsen |

The Oculus Rift has only been in developers’ hands for a short time, but interesting ideas and concepts have already emerged. One of the early demos was a virtual movie cinema, but filmmakers are also working on pulling you into the action. Hell Mountain is a horror movie with you as the protagonist. But will it work?

Oculus Rift as a home cinema

Oculus Cinema was one of the first experiences for the Oculus Rift and it is pretty convincing. It takes you into a virtual movie theatre, placing you in the perfect middle seat with a large screen canvas at the far end. You have no arms or legs but you feel like you can almost reach out and touch the seat in front of you. There is also an "IMAX" theatre for the Samsung Gear VR. But both of these are simulations of the physical movie theatre. Imagine if you could be part of the movie.

Oculus Cinema

- “Can you imagine seeing the film Gravity, for instance, floating in some kind of isolation tank with the Oculus Rift? How real would that weightlessness be?” says the creator of Zero Point to Polygon.

Some filmmakers believe that it is feasible. Zero Point is the first movie made specifically for the Oculus Rift - about the Oculus Rift. It has just been released. Other filmmakers, including a group of people who have been working on titles such as Jeepers Creepers, Cocoon, Aliens, Mask and Final Destination are now trying to raise money on Indiegogo to shoot the first horror movie for Oculus Rift, called Hell Mountain. In this movie you are not just a spectator; you are the main character.

If it works it will surely be scary as hell, but there are many challenges that have to be overcome to get there. As it is hard to move around inside a virtual world without a controller, the filmmakers imagine that the story will unfold as if you were sitting in a kind of seat. You can still look around though. Scene shifting will be another challenge.

And another question arises; how is an interactive movie different from a story-driven game? And is it better?

Other projects in development

There are several other movie projects in development for VR headsets. Earlier this year, a hack brought Netflix to Oculus Rift and the movie streaming service M-GO is planning to launch a movie service for Samsung Gear VR. Oculus is reportedly talking with Hollywood studios about creating cinematic experiences for the Rift, and a company called Jaunt is trying to build a VR platform for experiencing movies and live events such as sports and concerts.

Only time will tell if these ambitious projects can take the movie experience to the next level, but it is certainly fascinating to follow. However, before Oculus Rift brings you into the movie, it might just start by simulating the existing cinema experience in the comfort of your living room – as long as you are prepared to wear a headset.

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