Sunday, May 20, 2018
  • Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016
Ross Grogan
POV (Perspective)
New Rules Unlock VR's Branding Power

Some in the media are calling 2016 the Year of Virtual Reality. Others say the headsets and technology are still several years away from mass adoption. While people argue back and forth about where virtual reality fits in the media universe, there are some truisms that aren’t controversial. First, virtual reality, or 360-degree video, is being supported with billions in technology investment. The largest names with some of the biggest market caps are betting heavily: Google, Facebook, Samsung, Apple, HTC, Sony. Every day, VR is being applied to education, gaming, engineering, architectural design, urban design, therapy, theme parks, concerts, retail, fundraising and fitness. Second, and most important, the VR experience, when executed well with an appreciation for the medium, can be one of the most powerful branding and advertising tools ever devised. For instance, instead of shooting beautiful running footage of a car, now creatives can offer up virtual tours of both the exterior and interior of the auto.

Wielding the new found power of VR requires agency creatives to think, plan and tell a story in totally different ways. VR gives us the power to immerse people in various experiences, but now our audience has the freedom to look away. They can and do look anywhere and everywhere. The controlled “look here” devices employed by traditional filmmakers do not work in this medium. A new breed of VR filmmaker will emerge to help us navigate this new world.

Simply positioning a 360 camera rig in the center of some event does not make for compelling viewing. A user will only watch a minute or less of an uninspired VR content experience.  Instead, use the old adage, “story, story, story” to drive the narrative and keep the viewer engaged.  

Here’s some other do’s and don’ts in VR: DO have motion, but keep it deliberate and to a minimum. Delicate movement is good, anything else might backfire. DO plan for the creative to engage as many senses as possible. DON’T ever interrupt the viewer’s VR experience without a really good reason. VR is so immersive; people need to know what’s coming. DON’T forget the audio. Adding spatial sound will only enhance the experience. DO plan on a longer timeline for images and sound post. There are always glitches to be ironed out.

In the end, killer content that takes you into another time, place, or even body will be the brand builder for the future. Deep immersion still begins with written words and ideas, though, and that’s one rule that will never change.

Ross Grogan is the L.A.-based EP for The Cavalry Productions, SPECTACLE VR/AR and Galanta Media.