Virtual Reality: No Longer Just Tech For the Future

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The virtual reality music video that tells the story of OneRepublic’s  song “KIDS” shouldn’t be called a video. The funny white goggles and headphones I put on created something similar to a multi-sense experience, but it’s hard to put the feelings into words. I’d best describe my first jaunt into the world of VR as something similar to what I imagine its like to trip on a hallucinogenic drug, just without any of the crazy side effects (stress on imagine. I know mom-say no to drugs).

OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder shared that he wanted to capture the same youthful exuberance of movies like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in this VR video telling a classic shy-boy-meets-girl story. The band’s leading man described his experience with Downton Abbey analogy,  “It’s like when Robert discovers the telephone. You can say you’re opposed to it until you try it. It doesn’t matter how you approach it. The brain just goes off, it commits.”

For me, donning the goggles transported me into the rooms of the stucco-style villa where the video takes place, almost in a physical sense. What my eyes saw wasn’t limited to the single perspective I was used to 2D forcing upon me.  Not just my eyes, but my entire body was in the driver’s seat when it came to what rooms I wanted to export.

“KIDS” VR director Hal Kirkland explained the multiple-perspective element is what makes shooting a video like this so tricky. Everyone on set has to be constantly aware that at any given moment, the viewer can choose to look at them or as Tedder put it, “there’s no Mariah Carey angle”.

NOKIA Head of Presence Capture Guido Voltolina proudly held the VR camera, an orb that vaguely resembled the mini-disco ball I used to plug into the wall in my bedroom with multiple lenses ready to swivel in any direction.

Voltolina is confident this is only the beginning of rapid innovation beginning to take-off in virtual reality and how we use it.  While the goggles and attached cellphone are clunky and somewhat awkward to sport at the present moment, so was the Motorola block phone my mom hauled around in her purse 15 years ago. With sleek palm-sized devices like the iPhone 7 filling pockets now, it’s likely VR of the future will be both stylish and user friendly.

Tedder said OneRepublic is constantly approaching tech companies and offering to be guinea pigs for their products. Like the lyric in his song, it appears the band might really be doing a little “Searching for Oz”.  The possibilities for this technology for everything from education, to sports, to news and beyond are as endless as the angles it allows viewers to see.

After my afternoon at the Nasdaq I’d strongly recommend a VR trip to experience OneRepublic’s new video. The worst that can happen is you’ll get a little motion sick (in which case I’d take a seat) before you’re transported into a world only begins to give us a glimpse into the way we’ll tell stories, teach subjects, and share experiences in the future, all without physically leaving the ground you’re standing upon.

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