Titanic Tools to Create VR Content

Top Effects Company Unveils VR Suite for Production and Distribution

Here’s another potential enabler for the creation and distribution of professional virtual reality content.

Digital Domain isn’t new to virtual worlds. The special effects production company co-founded by James Cameron has created movies effects for blockbuster films such as his own Titanic, as well as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Now Digital Domain is launching what it bills as an end-to-end solution for making virtual reality video and getting it to consumers.

Last week at the annual event hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in Las Vegas, Digital Domain unveiled a platform consisting of a new spherical camera for capturing 360-degree video in 4K at 60 frames per second, software to integrate the content with post-production suites, and a solution to live-stream the output and distribute it through a cloud-based service.

Digital Domain’s system is not tied to a particular platform; it can produce content that can be accessed on iOS and Android devices, Samsung’s Gear VR, Sony’s PlayStation VR, Google Daydream, HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.

The popularity of virtual reality has been creeping up, and we don’t doubt its long-term potential. Nevertheless, the lack of killer content and apps and the cost of high-end headsets have prevented virtual reality from being more than an experiment for most consumers. There has been an effort to create better content, including more and more professional material (see Virtual Reality at the Sundance Film Festival).

Without the equivalent of must-see TV, virtual reality will not evolve from a nice-to-have gadget to an essential piece of consumer electronics. We’ve already seen several glimpses into the future of how this content might be watched. For example, Amsterdam saw one of the world’s first virtual cinemas last year (see VR Movie Revolution Goes Dutch).

Virtual reality is still struggling through a hype phase, but more enablers are coming to market and the technologies uses in entertainment, education and enterprise are clear. The opportunities are significant with some of the world’s largest companies breaking in audiences to the concept. For now, VR resembles the early days of TV.