Everything’s about VR at the moment. Headsets, cameras and movies are all poised to deliver immersive entertainment, starting with games and films.
In an attempt to seize the zeitgeist, the world’s first dedicated virtual reality cinema is opening up in Amsterdam. Samhoud Media, responsible for several ‘pop-up’ VR cinemas in the past, is behind the new initiative.
Over the course of 2016 we’re seeing not one but three major virtual reality headsets go on sale: the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and the PlayStation VR. So it makes sense you’d also need somewhere to view all this content.
Appropriately named The Virtual Reality Cinema, the room features 360-degree swivel chairs so you can spin right round and catch all of the action. Every attendee is loaned a Samsung Gear VR, a Galaxy S6 and a pair of Sennheiser HD 201 headphones to enjoy the virtual reality.
VR goes to the movies
Apparently the theatre holds 50 people at a time and the movies currently last around 30 minutes. Ticket prices are set at €12.50 (roughly £10/US$14/AU$18) and there are plans for further cinemas across Europe.
But what about the content? There’s a wealth of 360-degree video out there now, but the developers of The VR Cinema haven’t said exactly what’s going to be showing at the new venue – only that it adds “a whole new dimension” to the theatre experience. At least some of the films are going to be produced by the creators behind the cinema itself.
Basic 360-degree video can be filmed at a fairly low cost – Samsung and LG both launched cameras at MWC – but some studios, including Oculus, are already working on more immersive movies that let you move through scenes and interact with what you’re seeing.
Who knows what we’ll be able to go and see in the future or whether it will mean the end of cinemas completely as we’ll get the full experience from the privacy of our own homes but for now this may be the most sociable way to enjoy VR.