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Facebook Goes Hollywood with 'Oculus Experiences'
Wearable Tech World Feature Article
August 11, 2014
Facebook Goes Hollywood with 'Oculus Experiences'
By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer
When the Oculus Rift first arrived on the scene, the first thing that most thought of was likely how it would work as a gaming peripheral. This was the first thought for good reason; most of the conversation when it first emerged was related to video games, how this was different from the old days of “Dactyl Nightmare” and so on. But after the initial thrill of the potential reality of home-based virtual reality gaming in front of us, some started looking at other possibilities for such a device, and Facebook (News - Alert) proved no exception, turning to Hollywood to start crafting “Oculus Experiences".

Facebook representatives, over the course of the last several weeks, have reportedly been busily talking to film studios and individual directors alike about how to make content specifically geared toward the Rift headset. The ideas are wide in scope and varying in content, with some considering such experiences to serve as add-on promotional features for wider-release movies, while others are considering full-length movies to be released specifically for the Oculus Rift.

This actually isn't the first time something like this has emerged. Recently, a group of fans of the popular animated series “South Park” got together to create the South Park Oculus Experience, a tool by which desktop PC users packing an Oculus Rift could essentially wander the streets of everybody's favorite quiet little mountain town. Users roam the streets, past iconic buildings like City Wok and the South Park Mall—the layout seems to be mostly taken from the recent game release “South Park: The Stick of Truth”--and encounter characters who repeat some of the stock phrases. Chef, for example, greets users with his customary hearty “Hello there, children!”.
But what this shows more than anything is that Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert)'s original projections following the purchase of Oculus VR were right; this was never going to be just a gaming device. No, this was going to be a complete virtual reality tool, starting with video games—because really, what gamer isn't dying for home-based virtual reality right now?--and moving on from there to offer an enormous range of virtual reality experiences from movies to tourism and beyond.

There are already movies that would be tailor-made for the Oculus Rift once the resolution gets there—anything in the “found footage” segment would likely do the job, and many travelogues and nature films are tailor-made for the Oculus Rift—and that's just the beginning. A Blu-ray series called “Visions of Europe” might well best represent the possibilities here; for those who haven't seen it, it essentially involves a series of helicopter-level views of various regions in Europe. Narratives are added, and users fly over cities, towns, and natural formations with high-definition video playing all the while. Now imagine that with an Oculus Rift, with sufficient resolution to make the user believe that he or she is actually flying over Europe, with a narrator informing users of what is currently visible.

This is what's possible here, and this is what Facebook looks to be actively pursuing. How long will it be until these experiences start heading to users? Well, that's anyone's guess as yet. But Facebook has plenty of resources behind it, and a massive audience waiting. To convince filmmakers—particularly the indies, and if Facebook hasn't already looked in that direction it likely should—to bring such films to the Oculus Rift shouldn't be difficult, and may well signal the dawn of a whole new era in home entertainment.

Edited by Adam Brandt

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