VR isn't going to replace film just like film hasn't replaced theatre hasn't replaced books hasn't replaced sitting around telling goofy stories.
Still, with director Patrick Osborne representing VR filmmaking (for want of a better term) at the Oscars last Sunday, now seems like a good time to check in with what's out there in the cinematic VR universe.
Osborne had previous form as he won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2015 for Feast. Not every VR storyteller has reached those heady heights but there's still dazzling, moving and captivating treats to be found on all the main platforms.
We've looked at VR music videos, travel experiences and activist documentaries before but here we're interested in fictional stories and worlds brought to life in virtual reality. Here are a few of the best so far, tell us what you've enjoyed during your non-game VR time in the comments.
This is Osborne's Academy Award nominated short VR film, available on YouTube as a 360 Google Spotlight video, on Cardboard and HTC Vive. It's a lovely, five-and-a-half minute journey through a changing father-daughter relationship that borders on kitsch but pulls it back. Essentially Pearl has everyone welling up in their headsets.
As the viewer, your attention is fairly tightly directed but looking around, on repeat views, reveals nice details. It's much more affecting in VR than on YouTube 360 so, you know, do the right thing.
Allumette is twenty minutes of pure melancholy magic from Penrose Studios. Everything from the city in the clouds setting to the innovative perspective and staging has been meticulously crafted right down to being able to see inside intricate boats and buildings.
The story, another heartstring tugger, is loosely based on The Little Match Girl and blends whimsy with tragedy, set to a lovely soundtrack. A great case for solitary VR experiences, you can watch it on Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and Vive.
More VR x cinema
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- Six things to do with PS VRFun for all the family, not just the hardcore gamers
- #Trending: VR storytelling grows up fastThe immersive tech is already proving there's a life beyond gaming
- Gear VR shorts and experiencesIt's on my face - now what?
- 360 degree and VR videos on YouTubeFor your phone, desktop or headset viewing consideration
- How Hollywood is invading the VR film sceneWe spoke with the Hollywood alumni who created Tribeca's best VR films
Mad God VR
Short but creepy, Mad God VR will stay with you after you've taken the headset off. It was created by the studio of Phil Tippett who is known for his visual effects wizardry on the likes of Jurassic Park and Star Wars.
The short was made using a blend of stop motion animation and green screen which helps to make it even more freaky. Try it out on the Samsung Gear VR via Wevr but don't watch just before bed.
Cinematic the way True Detective is cinematic, GONE is - ok, you got us - a series, but it's one that we think deserves some love from movie fans. There is more interactivity in these live action episodes than you might expect but it's all done in a way that keeps the tension building throughout.
The story follows the disappearance of a young girl and the fact it's 360 means you're more aware of the fact that you might be missing vital clues at any moment. From the people behind The Walking Dead, it's another Gear VR option. Skybound Entertainment was staggering the release of the series but now all 11 episodes are available for VR binging.