2016 ICYMI

Remember how the buzz at the beginning of the year was that 2016 would be “The Year” that immersive 3D, 360° and VR media would go mainstream? Well, did it?

Is everyone you know talking about it?

Well, err, in all honesty, if you are not an extreme geek and earlier adopter, probably not. If anything, regular people “might” still be talking about AR in the form of Pokémon GO, but probably not even that (hopefully).

Last year’s CES and SIGGRAPH came and went, each breathlessly touting mounds of VR hardware. Thousands and thousands of pages of both real and virtual ink were bled on these events, other conferences and scads of high-profile product releases.
Everyone wanted a piece of virtual reality at this year’s CES (Scott Stein, CNET)
SIGGRAPH 2016 VR Village Will Celebrate ‘Summer of VR’ with Unprecedented Number of Experiential, Cutting-Edge VR and AR Installations (Business Wire)

Still, the general public seems to have heaved a collective sigh and relegated the majority of 3D media to the “stuff for extreme geeks, technophiles and gamers” pile. It isn’t that they didn’t hear about any of it — it is that they just don’t care, or worse, actively ridicule it. This is a shame, because what did happen this year was significant progress towards 3D content with mainstream appeal. There’s been a ton of cool stuff besides games published, and that has been documented on Cosma’s older site dedicated to spotlighting 3D content as well as newer posts on this site.

While it may seem like the ability to feel like you are “really” on Mars is the biggest advance, the “real” progress this year was the release of increasingly longer and more engaging stories for mainstream entertainment formats such as music videos and movies. In other words, the real advance has been in creating new forms of narrative that better exploit the new 3D media.

Here are three great examples that tell complete stories arranged by the order of their release date, quality of narrative and creativity in use of 3D (IMHO). The first two are four to five minute long while the last, when viewed in its’ entirety, is more than fifteen minutes long. You can also see more about each by visiting the original posts about them.

Help! (Google, 4:53 minutes, April)

See original post

Kids (One Republic, 4:45 minutes, September)

See original post

L.A. Noir (New York Times, 15:16 minutes, December)

See original post

Probably not coincidentally, these three experiences don’t even require a headset to see them. They were all released in the 360° YouTube format. If you watch them on a computer screen, you just press and hold on the video to explore them; if you watch them on a phone, just swing your phone around to experience them; and if you just happen to have a headset, any headset from any manufacturer, then there is a way to view them there in the more immersive format, too. This techno-factoid is incredibly important and not emphasized enough (probably because it doesn’t sell headsets).

It is impossible to tell if 3D media will fare any better at going mainstream in 2017 than in 2016, but it is fairly certain that longer and more powerful narratives that creatively exploit the unique qualities of 3D media are on the immediate horizon. Of course, Cosma will continue to bring you news of them from the front lines as the appear. Please stay tuned…

Happy New Year!

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