This quarter we have been speaking to Founder of Escape Studios Dominic Davenport on his thoughts on the state of VR across the film and gaming industry and what he believes the future holds.

Escape Rendered: VR was undoubtedly the central theme of the year, and took over some of this year’s conferences such as GDC, what do you believe was the most interesting development to come out of the conference?

Dom Davenport: The pure amount of gaming content that came out of the festival was really interesting, for example Assassin’s Creed announcing their new VR content and Oculus Rift presenting more than 40 playable titles that are up and coming. They have had their own unique take on using virtual reality in gaming. With this strong start in gaming it won’t be long before we see examples from other areas of the entertainment industries.

ER: What is the future of VR technology?

DD: The future of VR will be driven by mass adoption, which requires large scale content creation. With the investment in VR not from just the entertainment industries but also areas such as medicine, innovation will come from unexpected places.

ER: What do you believe the future is for VR in traditional filmmaking?

DD: So far, most of the experimentation we have seen has been in gaming or linear storytelling. However, we have seen some great examples in non-linear storytelling to date. The ILM X Lab gave Star Wars fans the chance to explore universes that we’ve all loved for so long, and interact with our favourite characters, such as C-3P0. We can now experience a story from a totally new perspective, engage with the content around us, and in some instances, change the outcome of the story completely based on these interactions. A combination of what we experience passively as movie fans, with the interactivity of games, will drive the future of immersive storytelling.

We have also started to see a few short films beginning to appear such as 'SONAR' which debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival and shows a real step being taken in using this technology across disciplines. The challenge in film making is how VR is used to tell stories, and if this medium can be utilised effectively in traditional storytelling. Only time will tell if this is truly possible.

ER: What do you believe is the next step in terms of creating content with VR, is the future of this purely gaming or do you think they could be convergence with other industries?

DD: With most forms of entertainment investing in VR, from journalism to rollercoasters, convergence is certainly a strong possibility. Although VR has a natural heritage that originates in games, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t applicable or practical for linear storytelling. The high fidelity visuals and ability for the user to look anywhere creates a whole new experience that can absolutely still work. Whilst some of the best examples of VR content to date is in stylised environments such as Minecraft, there is a huge opportunity for the more photo real that can absolutely be delivered via technology that is available today.

ER: Why do you think in this creative industry, programmes such as the new Scholarship programmes for subjects such as Game Art, VFX and Animation with Escape Studios is so important?

DD: I started Escape Studios after realising a skills gap existed between what universities were teaching and what companies expected from graduates. Now we've gone one step further and reimagined how a degree can deliver and anticipate industry needs. To be able to offer the next generation an opportunity to make what they love a career, and to have industry legends
such as Ian Livingstone CBE, Paul Franklin and Richard Williams, on board to guide the way is an absolute honour. I am personally looking forward to seeing what is to come from the talent selected by our sponsors.