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While studios and distributors around the globe push out new films, series, mini-series, and content to fill the insatiable entertainment demands of folks; they just have a hard time figuring out how they’re going to make huge profits from VR (Virtual Reality), which seems to be a solo adventure. But there’s a cadre of experienced, experimenting filmmakers who are making immersive entertainment for people who want to participate in, control and experience their content.

They’re getting some major assistance from a few companies that are not only willing to share information with other industry players but will listen to and work with pro shooters and production people. They also have the support of industry professionals and standards organizations like BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts) and SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers).

AMD Studios sponsored the recent VR On The Lot event in Hollywood, which was one of the best conferences we’ve attended for professionals to share with professionals. It was an opportunity to be reassured that the new VR film work is breaking new ground and that the naysayers/hand wringers were simply repeating stuff from the distant past. The opening keynote by AMD Studios,  Roy Taylor, Corporate Vice President of Worldwide of Media and Entertainment, set the tone for the two-day conference at The Lot.

Virtual Moves – Roy Taylor, Corp. VP of Worldwide of Media & Entertainment at AMD Studios, opened the two-day VR On The Lot Conference discussing the global innovations that have taken place in VR shooting and production this year and outlining the new solutions filmmakers can expect in the next year as narrative, entertainment, and educational/informational VR becomes mainstream.

Giving us a whiff of the past, he launched aggressively into what was really accomplished last year in the way of viewable VR entertainment and the progress that has been made this year. To illustrate how committed his company is to the immersive art form, he encouraged filmmakers to schedule an appointment with AMD Studios to check out the wide range of tools available to VR filmmakers and production people.

For those of us, not waist deep in working with the technology, one of the best charts was his modified Gartner hype cycle, showing we’re past all the wild-eyed expectations and deep dive disappointment and now the real work is being done.

Hype to Reality – Taylor told the crowd of Indie VR filmmakers that the industry has moved beyond the overblown hype phase with outstanding VR cameras, new sets of robust production tools and a growing number of viewing options.  VR has added a new level of film opportunities beyond selfies.

Taylor touched on the array of great VR films that were shown at Sundance, Tribeca and other film festivals around the globe to illustrate that people who take their work seriously are delivering exciting, narrative VR productions and that the art form is coming into its own.

While filmmakers and production people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how VR impacts and responds to the human mind or things like time distortion, we’re glad to see that firms like Technicolor, Dell, and AMD Studios are focusing on research that will enable viewers to have the best experience possible when watching entertainment, taking virtual trips, playing games, researching products/locations and even being part of real-time events.

Studios like Fox and Paramount are making substantial investments in the development of narrative and location-based VR that will enable people to explore a world (and universe) without boundaries. Although Taylor showed off the new wireless VR solutions, even he admits that it won’t replace 4K/HDR entertainment/education/information and that there’s going to be growing opportunities for professionals in both arenas

Other authors contributed: Andy Marken

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