Jaunt VR the future of video content ?

Posted December 19, 2014 by David in VR Video

A new wave of 360 degree video content is being created by many film makers worldwide at the moment.

With the release of the first consumer VR headset ( the Gear VR ) it stands to reason that quite a lot of consumers will not be gamers but movie fans and purchasing headsets for movie type experiences. At the forefront of this revolution is Jaunt VR who recently secured close to $30 million in venture funding. Just recently Jaunt has released some trailers and tech demos which we decided to check out using our Oculus DK2.

the hobbit vrThe Hobbit is Jaunts Journey to middle earth and is a short experience showing tranquil rural vistas all set to the moves iconic score. You get to see some fleeting glimpses of Gandolf as he strolls through the country side while your transported from location to location by a fading black screen.

The picture is quite clear but I didn’t get a sense of 3D from any of the objects on show and for me at least it feels as if I am standing inside a large dome with the image being projected around me. Also I’m not a fan of Lord of the Rings in general but with all the action scenes available and massive set locations I feel a bit cheated that these locations were ignored and instead we are given some generic countryside locations especially as the movies subtitle is The Battle of the Five Armies. I think that if we were put into the centre of a battlefield this would be a better demonstration of Jaunt’s technology allowing you to look around  and see different characters battle each other making the whole experience much more immersive.

vr monsterThe Kaiju Fury trailer is a Godzilla style B movie which puts you on a city street where you can freely look around. You jump between this location and a basement coffee shop where two terrified customers stare at the ceiling expecting it to cave in. This trailer is certainly a better use of VR and you actually feel tiny compared to the monster that comes towards you. The special effects are classic B Movie cheesy but again this 30 second trailer is far too short to enjoy fully as you will be turning your head wildly to take in the whole scene.

Young pop band R5 had a recording secession filmed using a single Jaunt Camera setup in a central location inside the recording studio. This demo is my personal favourite as it really does transport you into the scene and you can look around at all the band members as they play a pretty rocking tune. The picture quality for this particular experience seems a lot clearer than the other examples and you have at least some time to enjoy the experience as its longer then the 30 second trailers which jump from scene to scene.

music vrThis particular experience also lets you spot the stitch lines from Jaunts camera array. The stitch lines are minimal and you would hardly notice them as I did have to look hard to find where the image overlaps. I really enjoyed this video and I can quite easily see this being an enjoyable way to listen to your favourite bands in the future as being in the room with them really does add to the overall experience.

The next music experience comes from a live performance of Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney which on paper sounds like an amazing combination however it has one fatal flaw for any music experience ( the sound ). For some reason Jaunt implemented directional audio in this experience which is a shame as if you turn your head to look out at the audience the song gets drowned out and hampers your enjoyment.

vr video jaunt 1Also very noticeable in this particular experience due to the wide open space is the lack of resolution in the current rift. Anything further than 20 feet away from your location will look quite fuzzy but this is a hardware limitation and not Jaunts recording method.

The big question is would I sit through a whole 3 hour performance in VR watching 360 video similar to this probably not. It’s neat and this is just the first example of virtual reality being used in this way but most bands will look pretty boring on stage after an hour standing in the same positions or repeating the same movements. The big draw for music fans is the volume of the music (especially the bass) and the atmosphere in the crowd. I think no matter how advanced the technology gets this will be very hard to replicate in your VR den. One big advantage however will be the use of augmented reality overlaid on the live video feed which I fully expect to happen in the very near future and will certainly add a new dimension to live broadcasts.

fashion shoot vrNext is my least favourite Jaunt experience ELLE which is just a fashion shoot showing Jacquie Lee from the Voice. The only interesting part of the video is the text overlay detailing the clothing Jacquie is wearing. This will certainly be used in VR and AR when retail starts to take an interest in this new medium as I could certainly see an episode of MTV Cribs using text overlays on items shown in the show house with product details such as price and where to purchase popping up as you direct your gaze at them. Overall the ELLE experience is nothing special and is likely one of the earlier Jaunt videos captured as the picture is certainly not as crisp as the R5 example .

The Mission is a cinematic experience based on a world war two special operations team that’s dropped into a raging battle on the eastern front. This for me shows the most promise of all of Jaunts 360 videos but the way the trailer is edited you will get whiplash trying to take in all the action scenes.

virtual reality battleNot only do film makers have to think of new ways of filming a scene in 360 and making sure to hide all the film crew they should also start to think of new ways of cutting a trailer together. The Mission along with a lot of Jaunts other trailers are far too short to really appreciate the fact that you can fully look around your environment. Just as you get a handle on where you are the scene cuts to another location and you will find yourself looking left and right to take in the new location before you are again transported somewhere else.

Having quick cuts like this in action trailers has been a main stay in Hollywood for years but this does not work in VR. If the film maker just left the user in the heat of the battle for 30 seconds without swapping positons this would be far more effective as jumping from place to place trying to show as much as possible actually has the opposite effect as the user doesn’t have time to take in anything.

The Mission does have Jaunts best 3D implementation on show especially when you jump into the battle tank but as I’ve stated before the trailer is just far too short.

virtual reality horrorFinally Black Mass is a horror type experience that actually makes you an active participant in proceedings as the actors talk directly to you and this really does add to the immersion. The image quality for this trailer Is pretty good and the 3D effect is very noticeable on close up objects. I especially like how transitions are handled by sinister goons placing a dark hood over your head and then removing it to reveal a new location. Horror and Action movies seem to be a perfect fit for 360 video and the Black Mass trailer is certainly intriguing.

Overall I applaud Jaunts work in the emerging field of VR video content. The content available to download does show some great promise with some mixed results but this is more due to the actual content being displayed and not the actual technology behind it. Creating 360 video content is the biggest leap forward for the movie industry since Talkies took over silent movies and it’s going to take time for film makers to really get a grasp on spherical film making before we start to see the true potential of VR movie content.

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About the Author


David Whelan a professional web developer has been a serial early adopter of the latest technology. From an early age playing on a C64 he always dreamt of entering virtual worlds and exploring the endless possibilities that could be offered up by the platform.

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