What you need to know about VR

Virtual reality has had a start as slow and rocky as a snail going up pebbledash, with sales of high tech headset’s dwindling, but as it becomes more and more accessible it seems to be having a second coming, and that means, unfortunately for all you technophobes out there, it might be around for a while!

So here’s what you need to know: First of all, what exactly is Virtual Reality? Well, Virtual Reality or VR is complete audio and visual immersion in a digitally created landscape. In laymans terms, you put on a headset and have the experience of being in another place.

You may also hear the words ‘Augmented Reality’ thrown around. Augmented Reality or AR is the integration of virtual elements into real life, where digital images appear to exist in the context of the physical world.

The reason for the slow start of VR is that for most people £350 is an unrealistic price for a pair of fancy cyber goggles, and even then when you splash out on a headset it’s only as good as the content it offers. Sony, for example are by far the winners of the VR race, but still only have a handful of releases.

Where VR and AR excel is actually on mobile platforms, where companies have been finding increasingly creative ways to utilise VR, Snapchat for example has used Augmented Reality for a long time and 360 videos are always viral hits. It seems that Virtual Reality has a sweet spot; just at the point where quality and affordability converge.

Although you’d be forgiven for not realising, VR headsets were originally hailed as ‘empathy machines’ and finally filmmakers have started to produce VR content that delivers on those promises. For example, the short film Notes on Blindness that premiered at Sundance last year; based on the audio diaries of John Hull, Notes on Blindness allows the viewer to experience a world shaped entirely through sound.  Likewise the refugee crisis has been a source of inspiration for many VR filmmakers, for example “Clouds Over Sidra”, “The Displaced”, “Forced From Home” and “Four Walls”. These are films that actually allow us to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’.

And the best things about these videos? 90% of the time they are free!

Whether you think it’s a dying fad or the next frontier, we would love to hear your thoughts on VR.

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