Disney has a secret love for VR?!

Does Disney see a future full of virtual reality films?

In the last couple years Disney has shown a massive interest in the virtual reality market. Transporting you into the world of Disney with Disney Movies VR, investing millions in Jaunt XR’s startup funding series, creating a Marvel based VR game played in the back of an Audi with Holoride technology, and a location based VR game for Disney Animation’s late 2018 release of Ralph Breaks the Internet.

At the beginning of this year Marvel’s Avengers Rockets Rescue Run was launched for CES 2019. It works by using Holoride to track the movements of the car and simulating these same movements in VR. An initial trial of the Holoride technology by Audi shows that 53% of participants trying out this new technology didn’t feel the motion sickness that is traditionally associated with VR experiences. Could the matching up of the visual experience and physical experience in virtual reality potentially solve this problem of motion sickness?

Graph shows user testing from the initial trial of the Holoride technology by Audi in January 2019. Image Credit: Audi Electronics Venture

When Ralph Breaks VR officially opened in late November 2018 it was a huge hit for Walt Disney Animation Studios, ILMxLAB and The Void. In this real-time hyper-reality adventure, you and your friends break into the internet to play a video game with the characters of Ralph Breaks the Internet. The Void itself is a fully immersive experience that allows you to walk around inside the action, making the adventure feel even more realistic.

 

Late last year Walt Disney Animation Studios created it’s first ever VR short-film, Cycles, and have been showing it off at film festivals for the past couple of months. During Sundance Film Festival 2019, Disney announced that they will be making many more ventures into virtual reality film. With Cycles being the first of many.

Is Disney stepping into the cinematic virtual reality market with new gotta-see-it content?

Cycles – First VR short of Disney Animation
Image Credit: Walt Disney Animation Studios

At Sundance Film Festival Disney also announced that it has greenlit another ‘top secret’ VR experiment from the Animation Studios. Likely to be a VR short directed by Jeff Gibson, with Disney’s existing cast of characters placed in virtual reality. This will fit in nicely with its growing collection of VR experiences, from the animated dioramas in Disney Movies VR to the imminent launch of Disney+ (the online streaming service for all things Disney which could potentially host VR content in the future).

Image Credit: Walt Disney Company

At Disney’s D23 Expo last weekend Star Wars fans were introduced to the next chapter in the immersive virtual reality game, Vadar Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series. Made by ILMxLAB for the Oculus Quest. ILMxLAB revealed a few minutes of cinematic real time footage to the audience via their exclusive panel. The experience is set to be a three part VR series combining immersive cinematic storytelling with dramatic interactive play.

All of this recent interest proves that VR is something this media titan wants to explore and experiment with. They can see the potential in this risky new technology and want to be at the forefront of exploration into it’s storytelling possibilities.

Will Disney’s dabbling in VR bring back the hype in virtual reality content? Maybe this indication of Disney’s interest in virtual reality is the next big step needed to improve our knowledge of the medium. So the question is, will Disney make VR the new cinema for the masses?

Written by Grace Moore