Interview with Anthony Holland Parkin, Head of VR & Senior Director, Getty Images
It’s a genuinely revolutionary new medium that can deliver the most fully immersive experiences that technology has ever been able to provide. For over a hundred years we’ve more or less been confined to a 2D window on the world but now we can create genuine experiences for people which, as evidence suggests, are remembered not as something they saw but as something that happened to them.
There has been massive investment in the technology by the world’s biggest tech companies. It’s getting cheaper and cheaper to deliver the experience, especially via mobile, so it’s potentially available to billions of people who own a smartphone.
It’s also of huge interest to us because no one has quite figured out how best to use VR/AR to build their brand and promote products and services – we are in a period of great creative experimentation.
VR has been around since the late 80’s but has only been cost effective enough to reach a mass audience in the last few years because two essential pieces of technology – high resolution screens and accelerometers/motion detectors – have become very cheap because they are utilized in smartphones. So it is a totally new communication tool in the sense that it now has a potentially huge audience via smartphones.
In many ways you can see VR as an extension of technology that has been around for over 100 years – 2D photography. That offered us a ‘window on the world’, an opportunity to see an event or place that we might never get to see in reality. Full Feature VR is revolutionary in that it starts to immerse the audience into the scene. Studies suggest that the VR experience is processed by a different part of the brain and remembered as something that was experienced rather than merely seen. Evidence therefore suggests that it is a highly effective communication tool in terms engaging people’s emotion and empathy.
For example, the UN 360 film Clouds Over Sidra raised many times the amount of previous non 360 vehicles partly because the immersion leads to empathy which leads to action – giving.
VR is another medium to tell fictional or true stories and the story tellers are just figuring out what the aesthetics of this new medium are. When a consumer can be in a breaking news story in another part of the world rather than just being a passive observer, this will have profound consequences in terms of connecting people’s experiences.
It’s also interesting to speculate how this technology will change the way consumers understand visual aesthetic with regard to how fictional narratives are unfolded for them, when they can choose where to look and even where they move to in a scene.