Virtual reality (VR), in various forms, has been shown in the media for decades (it was accurately predicted by “Back to the Future II,” you know). But the actual experience had not been easily accessible until recently. VR of the past involved large, cumbersome rigs, inconvenient for any kind of on-site setup or execution. We’ve come a long way in the past year alone with the introduction of Samsung VR, Facebook’s Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, an add-on to Sony’s PS4 system.
VR and 360-degree video may not initially sound like an affordable or viable event solution, but with the right AV team and some creativity, the sky is the limit for what the two can do for events. Listed in order of affordability, consider these three VR and 360-degree video options that we at Active Production and Design have seen executed by groups.
An Immersive Escape
While not technically VR because users can’t interact with the surroundings, 360-degree video provides a cheap, yet immersive way for attendees experience a new place.
There are many premade, royalty-free videos out there that give viewers the ability to explore mountain trails, sandy beaches, deep oceans or the vastness of outer space. With video often played directly from a smartphone that’s placed in a VR headset, this experience requires the viewer to simply move their head around and take in the scenery.
If your event has a specific theme, finding matching content that’s already produced should be relatively simple. For example, one event I worked with wanted to transport attendees to a beach, so we uploaded gear with videos of surfing, scuba diving and parasailing—all of which were already created and free to use. The costs associated with this option include the headgear and a staff member on-site to show attendees how to use the technology.
For a more interactive experience, consider VR games and competitions. Games showcasing racing, basketball and more place your attendees in the middle of the action. Use this technology as a way for attendees to blow off steam, or to compete with others. Set up monitors to mirror the images broadcasted in the VR unit so your entire group can participate. The attributed costs for this are slightly more than simple 360-degree videos since VR equipment and software are required. But it’s still an affordable and engaging way to show your event is on the leading edge of technology.
Creating original 360-degree content can be an impressive activation for events of any size. Active Production and Design did this recently for a client who wanted to transport attendees to their warehouse miles away so participants could see products being made. As viewers looked around, informative pop-up videos appeared within the space, giving them a more detailed description of the product they were looking at. This creative solution allowed attendees to experience the creation of their product without having to leave the event space.
Other ways to incorporate this option could include the construction site of a company’s newest property or a guided tour of offices in another country. While this is the most expensive choice, it provides an impressive bang for your buck. The 360-degree video created can also be used on social media and web after the event.
Brad Gibson is director of marketing and business development at Active Production and Design Inc., which specializes in event AV, technology and production.