Virtual Reality is making it to cinemas in South Korea with film tech labs and visual effects houses rapidly creating popular content. Cinema-goers are fully immersed with both VR and 4DX which brings feel, touch and smell to the experience.
From the beginning of the 1900s until now, people have been enjoying cinema in a fairly similar way. Of course, image quality, sound systems and the number of films have improved, but it’s the story which really pulls people into the world on screen.
However, this is set to change with the development of virtual reality (VR). So far, the technology is a popular medium for creating games and even enhancing theme park rides. Meanwhile, its prevalence in cinema is only just beginning.
Now, film festivals are launching competition sections purely for VR films. Interestingly, one country taking to this trend is South Korea. In fact, cinemas in the country are bringing in VR headsets so you are completely surrounded by the movie.
As the world accepts VR as a viable film technology, film tech labs and visual effects houses are rapidly producing content and the budgets for such movies will only get bigger.
One such VR film is Stay With Me which was directed by Bryan Ku. It focuses on a relationship between a girl who dreams of being an actress and a boy who wants to be a musician but is too afraid to go on stage. Ku said at a press event for the film:
“When you think about VR, most of the time it would be either adventure, action or horror films… I believe the greatest quality of VR lies in its capacity to let the audiences relate to the film emotionally, and romance drama is the genre that corresponds the most to this quality.”
4DX Cinema before VR
Get Completely Lost in a VR Story
Of course, with the rapid development of content comes the need to find ways to screening the pictures. By adding VR headsets to cinemas, South Korea is able to show many of the notable VR film projects is developed in 2017.
Stay With Me also opened in “4DX” format at cinema chain, CJ-CGV. 4DX is a technology which adds elements of feel, smell, and touch. However, Yoo Young-gun of CGV adds:
“4DX effects for VR should be different from those for other movies… Visual elements are not enough to accomplish what VR is up to, which is to expand to a form of storytelling with its immersive characteristics maximized. With 4DX technology, the audiences can touch, smell and feel the films, meaning that virtual reality in its literal sense can be achieved.”
Stay With Me claims to be the world’s first film production which was shot in 360-degree VR and screened in 4DX. To do this, CGV’s 4DX effect team had to join the project at the development stage.
However, everything must have to plan as the cinema chain is now aiming to globally introduce 4DX VR. It intends on bringing VR tech to its 500 4DX theatres worldwide.
“We are planning a VR add-on package, which allows exhibitors to show VR films, and are offering it to the 500 4DX theaters across the globe,” says Yoo.
Support funds for such films have so far come from The Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Korea Creative Content Agency and National IT Industry Promotion Industry. Only time will tell whether this is money well spent and whether VR films are just a fad or if they will really take off.