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VR Producers Should Avoid Over-Hyping Their Products: Video

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Troy Dreier: Hi, this is Troy Dreier, coming to you from Streaming Media East, 2016. I'm having some brief conversations with thought leaders of our industry. I'm talking with Josh Courtney, executive producer and CEO of SkyVR. Josh has just delivered our second day keynote. Welcome, Josh.

Josh Courtney: Thank you.

Troy Dreier: The keynote was fantastic, and one thing I really appreciated was that you didn't try to sugarcoat where the VR industry is right now. You acknowledged that it's very early days, and not everyone is having a great experience.

Josh Courtney: Right. That's true. We're really at the absolute beginning, and baby steps of this industry. One of the things we highlighted in the presentation is that we're really doing—we're repeating history a little bit in what we're doing. In the early days of television, we just took TV cameras and pointed them at radio dramas. It's kind of what we're doing now. We're taking that early content. We're trying to shoehorn it into virtual reality, and VR really is a change of format. There's a lot of testing that's going on.

We have to rethink the way that we actually write the stories, the way that we create that content, all of the cameras are new. All of the software is new, it's not a creation process that we can bring from stuff that we've done before. A lot of the technology is coming out of the 3D space in the CG world from motion pictures. It's a totally different format and we're changing from that third-person, kind of passive experience in television and video, into a first-person experience in VR. There's a lot of work to do still in that space. It's really exciting time, but there's a lot of work to still do.

I think it's important to educate the customers. It's important to educate the broadcasters and the people who are going to be content producers in the realities of what to expect. I think that's an really important part. It's important to educate the public about where VR is, where it's going. I think that if we over-hype the expectation, just like with any content, if you over-hype it, you have a possibility for disappointment. Especially if the platforms aren't necessarily delivering just yet. VR is getting close and it's moving incredibly fast. What we did two months ago, we would never do today. We're literally moving that fast, both on the technology side, the content side, and the camera side of things. I mean, we're changing all of that stuff daily.

Troy Dreier: You have a message for people who may have had an early bad experience that kind of gave them motion sickness?

Josh Courtney: Yeah, I mean those problems have all been fixed. All the manufacturers, whether it's Oculus or the Samsung Gear VR or the HTC Vive or the Morpheus from Sony, they've all done a good job of bringing the appropriate kind of head-tracking in. Those early issues and the early problems that everybody had if anybody had gone out and actually done those early demos, it's a totally different experience now and really they've done a good job in what they're doing and the next release is even better. Lot of good stuff, so I would say come back and try it again.

Troy Dreier: Even though it's early days, the money is really flooding in, it sounds like. The producers just can't wait to create their own VR?

Josh Courtney: Yeah, it's an expanded canvas for storytelling, and I think that producers and directors and people in the market see that as a new way. It's a new form of storytelling. It's a new way to extend that message out. That's a really exciting thing for content creators. We've played around with online, we understand that market. We've done a lot of stuff in TV over the years, but just the ability to be able to move the audience into first-person is really exciting. I think that the consumer demand and the consumer adoption of virtual reality is driving a lot of excitement into that. It's being adopted incredibly quickly, much faster than I think people really understand. It's our job as content creators to really get out there and start producing really great content that's entertaining for people. I think there's a bit of a vacuum right now in the content sector. It's kind of a producer's game right now.

Troy Dreier: I think excitement is the word, even though it's early days. There's so much excitement about it right now.

Josh Courtney: Absolutely.

Troy Dreier: Well, thank you for joining me. This is Troy Dreier coming to you from Streaming Media East.

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