IBC: New Virtual Reality Production Agreement Inked by Jaunt and 3Mersiv

“Don’t try to apply old rules to a new format," warns 3Mersiv's Steve Schklair.
A rendering of the developing Neo VR camera.

Virtual reality is showing promise, but it also faces big hurdles as there still needs to be a viable business model, as well as understanding of how to tell stories in this new 360-degree immersive environment. That was a conclusion of various speakers at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam.

Also during the event, Palo Alto-based VR startup Jaunt revealed that it has selected Burbank-based VR production company 3Mersiv as preferred production partner (non-exclusive) for its Jaunt Studios, which recently opened in Santa Monica to help establish best practices as well as production workflows.

“We have a new medium with infinite potential,” said Steve Schklair, founder of 3Mersiv (which is the team behind 3Ality Digital). “But the [storytelling] language is being developed. … We need to make content that should exist in 360-degrees. Don’t try to apply the old rules to a new format. It needs new rules.”

Jaunt founder and CTO Arthur von Hoff agreed. “VR production is easy if you don’t care about quality,” he said. “We’re working on high quality, high production value content.”

There could be 40 million VR headsets in the market by 2020, projects Tom Morrod, senior director, consumer electronics, IHS Technology. “But nobody’s worked out how to manage the ecosystem,” he warned, noting that there have been past attempts to launch virtual reality, and “so far much of what been hyped has not taken off.”

But he acknowledged that this time around, certain aspects of the market show more promise. “The technology is much more advanced,” he said. “The technology also allows us to cheaply provide the devices.”

To that end, various stakeholders believe VR systems adopted for mobile phones (Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard) could help mass market adoption. “However over time it will be cheaper and easier to put together those two devices,” added von Hoff, citing emerging systems such as Oculus Rift, Sony’s Morpheus and HTC’s Vive.

Jaunt, which has already raised $34 million, wants to become the “Netflix of VR" and is working to launch a VR content app at the end of the year to provide content to owners of VR headsets; it also plans to do some original program creation, as well as technology development, according to von Hoff.

Jaunt’s prototype Neo VR camera was unveiled in public for the first time at IBC. At Jaunt Studios, it’s additionally testing the recently announced Nokia OZO VR camera. Both are notable as they are not rigs that use existing cameras. Rather, they’re  conceived and built with VR in mind.

Certain postproduction system makers including Assimilate and The Foundry are already working to incorporate VR capabilities into their systems.