The Human Experience of VR


Recently I published a post on LinkedIn in regards to the Future of VR, as I see it (if you have a LinkedIn account, you can see that here).

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, it basically talks about the importance of the portability of VR – in other words, being able to go anywhere with it and not being tied down by your computer or some crazy set-up in a room you’ve deemed to be your VR Cave.

And that brings me now to what I see as being, or should become, the Human Experience of VR, from a UX designer point of view as well as that of a filmmaker/storyteller point of view.

Of course, you may disagree or have even better ideas, so please feel free to comment.

First off, 360 degree VR is a completely sucky experience for humans. No, really, it is. NO ONE can naturally turn their head 360 or even 180 degrees from facing forward. Unless you’re an owl person or the human embodiment of R2D2, you physically can’t do it.  We can look over our shoulder to a certain degree, but that’s about it.

Looking around 360 degrees while stationary is not a natural human experience.

In fact as I was at E3, demoing the Immerex VR head mounted display to dozens and dozens of folks, which was playing 4k 3D 360 degree videos, not a SINGLE person looked BEHIND them, or at all 360 degrees of content, even though I told them at the beginning “You’re going to be watching a 360 DEGREE 3D VIDEO SO MAKE SURE TO TURN AROUND ONCE IN A WHILE TO ENJOY IT”.

Not one person did. Never. Not. Ever.

Like these guys..


Or this guy.


Nope. They just sat there staring straight in front of them for the most part, and once in a while looking side to side or even (gasp!) up and down. Happy as little clams with their comfy spot.

I had to remind them to look around, and once they did because they were sitting in a stool that allowed them to spin around, they were pretty happy, though a few people stopped as it was going to make them sick.

Funny how if the motion is in one direction and you spend to much time looking the wrong way, you get sick.

Add that if something is framed ahead of you to drive the story, you could miss out on it. It’s kinda like being that ADD kid in class that was looking everywhere instead of at the teacher.

So here’s a thought – take it as advice, or take it for what it’s worth. Don’t shoot 360 degree VR content if you’re making it move. This applies to storytellers, filmmakers, drone people, etc.

Now, of course, 360 degree video is great for VR tours, like a home, or office, or national park (and you can break what I said if it’s aerial footage). You stand, or sit in a swivel chair, and off you go.

For moviemaking, my suggestion is shoot either to cover 180 or even 200% from front, so the viewer can look over their shoulder.

It’s how people naturally look at things.

As a filmmaker, you can control the lighting, sound, and of course drive the direction of the story.

Your audience will be in the film, and if you’re clever enough, they can be one of the characters. There’s lots of big players getting onto the VR bandwagon, including Stephen Spielberg, who at one time talked about the danger of VR to the film world, and now is embracing it. It’ll be interesting to see what he does, or others and the standards that might come from that.

Next time I’ll be discussing an idea I have for story-based 3D virtual reality movies, and a special rig that’s being designed right now. 😉

Please feel free to add any comments or thoughts below.

Until next time.

Human Experience Engineer, Storyteller, Filmmaker

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