Virtual Reality Might Change TV Shows as We Know It
Just think how many times you have had this experience. You are watching a TV show, and one of the characters is startled by some sound from the kitchen. She is trying to check the source of that sound. You know that it is a bad idea because it is that kind of a show, and it would be stupid for the character to check the source of sounds. But, the character still goes to the kitchen and is promptly butchered by a demon, devil, or a serial killer. You are left cursing at the character because you have seen this all too many times. But, you tried to tell her to not go there. If only you could have somehow jumped inside the television, and stop the character, it would have saved her, right? Well, guess what! You might be able to do that soon, thanks to virtual reality (VR). A lot is being said about VR and its potential to become the next big thing. Whether it will just become another fad like 3D that will never catch on, or something that will change every aspect of our television entertainment, is yet to be seen. Regardless, there is no denying that VR may probably have a lasting impact on the entertainment industry in many ways.
Did you know that there are already TV shows out there that you can experience in VR? Well, not completely. But, they allow you to experience their world in the most intimate way. At this year’s SXSW festival, HBO’s Game of Thrones allowed its fans to experience The Wall in VR. Imagine what it would be like to enjoy the whole show in VR in the future! You can participate in the battles, bloodbaths, and all the sickening, gut-wrenching, and equally exhilarating events on the show. That future may not be too far after all.
A Seinfeld fan has managed to create a navigable version of Jerry’s apartment for Oculus Rift. You can hang out at Jerry’s and enjoy the magical feel of being ‘inside’ a TV show. Of course, Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George will not be waiting there to greet you at present. But, that may soon change. Yes, you could actually get inside the Seinfeld world and interact with the characters you want. As you probably guessed, the real cast will not be present there to interact with you. Instead, the showmakers have their voices, movements, and other information with them. They can just use them to give you a pretty authentic feel of the characters. Amazing, isn’t it? Being able to share a coffee with your favorite characters!
Oh, but it doesn’t stop there! You will be able to change what is happening in the TV show you are watching. Suppose you do not like a particular actor, and you believe that the character could have been better in the hands of another actor. No problem. You can replace that artist with your choice of actor. Yes, YOU will be able to do that. The new actor’s body, body language, voice, and behavior will be completely mapped digitally beforehand. So, you can choose between many such actors in the future, and see who you like the most for a particular role. Of course, there will be some ground rules. The presence of a character may even change the entire show’s plot, or even the genre for that matter. At this point, it is difficult to guess how this will pan out. But, according to the founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Jeremy Bailenson, all of this is surely going to happen.
As far as VR is concerned, TV shows are just the beginning. The next frontier will be the sports on live TV. At present, you can enjoy your favorite sports from different camera angles, although you don’t have any control over which camera angle you would like to watch the match from. But, soon, that might change big time. No, we are not just discussing you being able to enjoy the match by being in the stadium. How about enjoying it being ‘the player’!
Yes, discussions are underway in the sports industry for some time now, about using a series of tiny cameras, networked together to project to the fans, a player’s point of view as he plays a practice session. The plan has been scrapped at present, but considering the fact that sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, there is simply no chance that the technology will not be pursued sooner or later. Not least because fans would pay top dollar for an experience like this.
These are just glimpses of what VR could do for the television in the future. The true extent of the change it will bring will be realized only after it has become mainstream. So, gear up. If the potential of VR is anything to go by, traditional TV might soon be dead for good.