VidCon 2016: 5Qs With Keynote Speaker Jens Christensen
Everyday there’s a new announcement about a major media publisher dabbling with virtual reality and 360 degree video. Most claim it’s not hype, and investment dollars aren’t slowing down to fuel the space. This week, at VidCon, Jaunt VR original* founder and CEO, will be giving a keynote to discuss the future of virtual reality and the business opportunity that Jaunt sees. Jaunt was early-to-market for building out entertainment experiences for Virtual Reality environments and has been well-funded from notables like Redpoint Ventures, Google and Disney. Before Christensen’s session on Thursday, June 23rd, on the main stage, we caught up with him to get his thoughts on what’s next for VR.
VideoInk: A few weeks ago, we published a guest post from Robert Green about the Content / Platform catch 22 for virtual reality and immersive video. ) What do you think? Is content or is distribution more crucial? And what happens if there isnt enough compelling content for viewers to be delighted by?
Jens Christensen: Robert is spot on in his conclusion that for consumer to find value in VR hardware, there has to be a steady stream of high quality content. More and more headsets are hitting the market, at various price points, but at the end of the day, there still has to be content to consume. That’s why Jaunt has been so well-received. Problems are being solved across the board, for everyone, regardless of if they have a $5 set of glasses, a $600 Rift or just an existing smartphone. Brands and up-and-coming film producers are now able to quickly work to fill the VR content pipeline, across a variety of verticals — film, music, sports, travel and more.
VI: What will be the tipping point for mass adoption of Virtual Reality?
JC: I think content and access are key. The vast majority of people wouldn’t believe you if you told them today they can enjoy quality, VR content right now, on their smartphone. Sure, it’s an even more immersive experience if you have a headset, but consumers can dip their feet in the water right now, without committing to anything. I think as that message becomes more clear, we’ll see a change in the tides.
VI: There are a lot of Hollywood types dabbling in VR and Immersive video, what is one tip or piece of advice you’d give when adapting linear storytelling to an immersive environment?
JC: Make sure you’re working with a team that truly understands immersive technology and VR. It’s unlike any other medium. No longer are you controlling what the viewer sees and when, they have more freedom than ever to roam and view what’s happening all around them. It’s crucial to think this through from all angles and make sure you’re striking the right balance of interest in all directions, without being too overwhelming and distracting. Ensure everything compliments the main vision rather than drawing away from it.
VI: Some have argued that VR is a fluke, much in the way of 3D where even a mega budget film from James Cameron couldn’t flip mass adoption. What’s your response to these naysayers?
JC: Right now, the majority of Jaunt traffic comes from mobile, which is a very different situation than what 3D TVs faced a few years ago. With billions of smartphones around the world, capable of viewing 360-degree content right now, this actually puts content creators and distribution platforms in a great position to appeal to the masses, globally.
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VI: What could kill the heat that’s around the VR space right now, i.e what’s big industry situation that keeps you up at night?
JC: I’m really excited about where things are going. The industry continues to heat up, consumers are coming around and established entertainment properties are taking notice. The priority should remain getting more great content in the hands of consumers as often, and as quickly, as possible.
*Note: Christensen has stepped down as CEO of Jaunt VR. Co-founder Arthur van Hoff is acting CEO in the interim while Jaunt finds a new CEO.