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NEXT presents Virtual Reality and Cinema: Opportunities for Monetisation


- CANNES NEXT: Five VR experts addressed the possibilities of virtual reality, as well as its relationship with traditional cinema

NEXT presents Virtual Reality and Cinema: Opportunities for Monetisation
Deloitte head of research Paul Lee, who kicked off the conference

Friday morning and afternoon were completely dedicated to virtual reality at the NEXT Pavilion. The second conference, in particular, tackled the issue from an economic angle, and five experts from the main companies currently investing in VR addressed the opportunities and threats to the development of this brand-new technology.

Deloitte head of research Paul Lee took the floor first, after a brief presentation by moderator Jeremy Kay, of Screen International. Lee introduced the topic by breaking down the prices of the best-known VR devices currently available on the market, including Facebook's Oculus Rift, the upcoming Sony headset and the much cheaper Google paper box (only $10!). "Virtual reality is a new world, and we are all figuring out how to monetise it for now, but Goldman Sachs has just predicted a future $80 billion market for VR, and we really need their credibility!"

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Next, Penrose Studios' very own Eugene Chung showcased the firm's latest VR project, Allumette. This 20-minute, fully immersive, real-time CGI world allows the viewer to make decisions about the lives of its tiny characters, while still following a linear storyline. "One of the perks of being a VR creator is the great sense of community you share with your colleagues," concluded Chung, "but I guess we all face the same dilemma: are we charging too much or too little? Personally, I'm choosing the free option for now, in order to build a strong audience first."

Two more panellists then joined the conversation, slightly disagreeing with Chung and eventually involving the audience. Jip Samhoud of The VR Cinema – the first-ever theatre for VR – asserted that giving away projects for free might devalue the VR market. "We've had 25,000 admissions in our cinemas in Berlin and Amsterdam so far, and the ticket price was the regular €12.50," said Samhoud. "Although VR might be an individual experience, people still want to share and speak about it in the same room, when the headsets come off."

"At the end of the day, it's just another platform," began Alex Barder, of VRWERX, the company behind the Paranormal Activity VR game. "People love it already, and it can be a great opportunity for monetisation for us all. But there's still a lot of innovation to be done, and governments need to realise that VR is a viable business: the future is now!"

The conference wrapped up on a hopeful note, with Furious M's Mario Kenyon saying: "The future lies in the hands of this new generation. I don't see the big names in the game adapting to VR: the 'Millennials' will be the next Spielberg."

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