FEED Issue 25


“Trying to get it all to run on the available processing power is no mean feat,” explains Pontin. FINDING AUDIENCES Despite the power of the experience it might deliver, there is still uncertainty about who VR is for, where the audience is and whether there’s a sustainable business model for it. “The audience numbers compared to TV are tiny,” notes Pontin. “You can’t really talk to people about huge audience numbers, because they’re nothing like TV.” Finding the right audience for VR might involve looking in unorthodox places. Pontin points out that the show had a lot of success in showing the Britannia experience at London’s Science Museum at its late night events. “Five thousand people turn up for these things and they really are interested in this tech. Now, it is a tech story rather than a drama story, still, it’s people who are interested in tech and gaming we’re reaching. But we’ll see more as we get rid of the tiny bits of friction in the VR experience,” she says. Venue-based VR experiences have had some success, especially when, like the Britannia experience, they are used as cross-promotional vehicles for other brands or content. The Void is a pop-up virtual reality facility running in several shopping locations worldwide. The crossover experiences it develops and offers include stories in the Star Wars , Avengers and Ghostbusters universes. At present, The Void experiences are built for four people and include high-quality video, as well as tactile feedback. “One of the key findings has been that if something is location-based, it’s better if it’s multiplayer, because you make an event out of it and bring your friends. But

the amount of physical footfall you have in a shopping centre plus the amount of staff you need to take people through it is still pretty expensive,” says Pontin. Pontin believes that those simple fixes – lighter headsets without cables, combined with higher quality graphics and easier content access – will help make VR content more mainstream. “It will probably have to be something like translucent glasses. The headsets are too heavy for someone to stay in there for long periods of time. I think that stuff’s coming,” she says. “Being able to switch quickly between AR and VR would be cool. But these things happen over time.” A DIFFERENT MINDSET Sky has always been willing to experiment with new content technologies. In 2010, even before the big wave of 3DTV mania, it had launched a 3D channel, which operated for five years before closing. The company has allowed ample time for new ideas, not just to be adequately researched but for them to have solid real-world trials. “Getting revenue directly out of VR was never an objective for what we were doing. It was more about the innovation and learning how to share assets between teams and how to create value internally for Sky and test out ideas.” With some solid VR experience under its belt, Sky VR is looking ahead to how it might leverage VR commercially – sports seems to be one sure way of heading. But Sky VR, whatever it’s future, will have to do without Pontin. She is heading to pioneering digital content producer, Nexus Studios. The company, with offices in LA and London, builds innovative, high-end content, including AR and VR. Pontin is one of a whole generation of female creators in the VR space. She


SCALE IT UP The Britannia VR experience has real scale and includes a vast range of environments, including Roman bathhouses

feedzinesocial feedmagazine.tv

Powered by