Expert Advice on Creating Virtual Reality Projects

Virtual reality is still in its infancy and it’s not always an easy task to identify projects that have potential. At the F8 Conference in California, four experts discussed what are the best way to create content for this technology.

How do you determine which projects are worthy of being carried out?

“For us, what is important is to find projects that need to exist in virtual reality and that ideally can only exist in virtual reality (VR). It’s a new storytelling media and we need to demonstrate that it is different from television or film.” — Ryan Horrigan, chief content officer for Félix & Paul Studios.

“We analyze each project according to three factors. Innovation: Is it something that is innovative, that will teach us something new? IP (intellectual property): Is it known? In the case of a new audience, including a known element in a project creates a comfort zone. Impact: Will the project make a difference? Is there an important story that needs to be told? Two of these three factors may be present, but we ideally want all three.” — Yelena Rachitsky, executive producer for Oculus.

Is it better to bet on innovative projects or those that tell a good story?

“Telling a good story is what counts the most. You need to take into consideration the new technology that is upon us without necessarily making use of it right away. You need to accept the limits of current technology.” — Ryan Horrigan, chief content officer for Félix & Paul Studios.

Should linear narrative schemes be avoided in VR?

“No. We have yet to understand what really works in VR. Until we have, it’s not the time to set restrictions upon ourselves.” — Julia Sourikoff, head of VR for Tool of North America.

With what do you begin once a project has been approved?

“A good script is important, but you also need to create a complete storyboard in VR. It is also important to produce an accurate technical production stream that is as detailed as the narrative is. There has to be moments in the production process when comments made by the other team members or investors will be incorporated seeing as a project could derail if the advice is not applied where it should be.” — Christina Heller, CEO of VR Playhouse.

“In addition to a producer, each project needs someone who will oversee the technical aspects, who can explain the entire production process and show how far things can go. It is essential to achieve the right balance between creativity and technology.” — Yelena Rachitsky, executive producer for Oculus.

What role do you assign to 360° video in VR?

“I adore enveloping virtual reality experiences, which enable us to explore universes. However, we live in a reality where it is easier to reach a large audience with 360° video. It is not as immersive but it is nevertheless entertaining. I believe that each project needs a strategy at both ends of the spectrum.” — Yelena Rachitsky, executive producer for Oculus.

How must sound be used in VR?

“Audio is an important production tool. There is no frame as is the case with film, so sound is used to direct where users focus their eyes.” — Ryan Horrigan, chief content officer for Félix & Paul Studios.

“You need to be careful because I noticed that creators sometimes use surround sound in rather extreme ways. In real life, my left ear does not fully stop hearing a sound just because I turn my head. It’s an art in itself.” — Christina Heller, CEO of VR Playhouse.

How can people be convinced of the merits of adopting VR?

“Television has experienced a rebirth with the arrival of pay-for-view channels. They are what launched high-profile shows such as Six Feet Under and The Sopranos. That’s our Holy Grail, identifying the first VR project that will truly interest people and convince them to come back.” — Ryan Horrigan, chief content officer for Félix & Paul Studios.

“The film industry is investing as much in film marketing than it is in film production. But VR marketing experts do not even exist yet. We need to better understand our audience and how to reach it.” — Yelena Rachitsky, executive producer for Oculus.

“I believe that this year will mark an important step for VR set in physical spaces. It makes our marketing work easier and allows users to live a complete experience while we monitor their positioning in a room. A company operates hundreds of VR centers in China. We need to let ourselves be inspired by that.” — Julia Sourikoff, head of virtual reality for Tool of North America.

The replies were edited and condensed for ease of understanding.

Maxime Johnson
Maxime Johnson is an independent journalist who specializes in the analysis and observation of new technology. He writes a column for the Métro newspaper and for L’Actualité magazine. He also collaborates with several magazines including Protégez-vous and can be heard on the radio, namely during ICI Radio-Canada Première’s La sphère show.
Read Bio