1. It’s not cheap!
For the pleasure of your 30 minute in-theatre experience, it will cost you $20. Per person. Not too much of a stretch from buying a single adult ticket to a “regular” film, but nonetheless, you get less film for more money. So, going to the theatre might not be worth it to you when you can own a Vive or Oculus. By owning a headset, you can choose the content you want to watch, and watch it from the comfort of your own home. If you have access to a smartphone, you have access to 360 content already (360 content is compatible with headsets). New 360 content is coming out all the time and it is only marked for improvement in the foreseeable future; we’re talking games, short films and TV shows. Headset prices do run the gamut of course in terms of price, weight and quality, but you are looking at a range; from $17 USD for the Google Cardboard to $800 USD for the Vive. For a price comparison on headsets, check out wearble.com. They’ve also got content covering the best smartphone headsets for VR apps, for both iOs and Android devices.
… If you do decide to hit the virtual reality cinema though, bring your own popcorn; there is no concession stand.
2. It’s North America’s first virtual reality cinema.
Toronto is a film town. Dubbed Hollywood North, Toronto is not only a leading destination for shooting international co-productions, but it is also notably a place where filmmakers take a first-go at exposing audiences to their cinematic work, à la the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival. In some cases, a film’s destiny lies in the hands of audiences here; whether they are praised or panned in Toronto might mean the difference between a thumbs up or down for distributors. In a way, Toronto sets a bar for visual content. Now, we’re extending the reign by bringing virtual reality to North American audiences first.
3. No one is making full-length virtual reality films yet.
You can expect to be entertained for about 30 minutes total at the Virtual Reality Cinema Toronto. That 30 minutes is broken into three 5-10 minute films. This seems to be the case with virtual reality cinema across the board. Why so short? Two reasons really. First, virtual reality immersively sets people free inside a filmmaker’s world and allows the audience to choose where they go and when within the experience. There’s an independance to the audience experience that the director must consider when telling the story and while filming it. Places like the Canadian Film Centre are breeding next-gen filmmakers who are specifically trained to learn the new language of VR storytelling. Second, our physiology is a bit of a barrier right now to longer-form experiences. As it stands, chances are that you may experience cybersickness. This means that your eye and brain cues are out of sync resulting in nausea, vomiting, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness and/or disorientation. Susceptibility is random. If it does happen to you, you are not alone, and you will get your money back if you can’t continue.
For more information on VR Cinema in Toronto this summer check out VIVID VR’s site at vivid.ca. It’s here ‘til September.
WANT MORE VR CINEMA THIS FALL?
Hot on the heels of the Toronto International Film Festival, The Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS) is happening September 16-18, 2016 in the city. The Festival showcases short films by a new wave of international filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries of cinema and narrative using Virtual Reality. You can find more info at fivars.net.
OTHER CITIES HOSTING VR CINEMAS
- Amsterdam - Touted as the World’s First Permanent Virtual Reality Cinema The VR Cinema in Amsterdam opened its doors earlier this year. It reportedly costs €12,50 for a ticket and your total experience lasts about 35 minutes. Visit thevrcinema.com for more.
- Berlin - According to Digital Trends Magazine, Berlin offers a rotating list of genres including Horror, Documentary and Children’s Programming. Berlin’s VR Cinema experience lasts about 30 minutes and admission costs about the same as it does in Amsterdam, €12.50.
- Los Angeles - According to The Verge.com, “IMAX reportedly plans to open six VR locations worldwide in malls and multiplexes before the end of 2016, with the first destined for Los Angeles. After that, the company wants to expand to China. IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond said content would be tied to existing movie franchises and VR experiences would likely last around 10 minutes and cost between $7 and $10.”
- London, Paris and Madrid - According to Mashable.ca, more permanent VR Cinema’s are set to open later this year in these cities.
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