Rapid VR is a new Australian-based film technology that could change the face of VR gaming as we know it. It allows filmmakers to make 360-degree movies that essentially puts the viewer in charge of the action. The results are reminiscent of a virtual reality video game — except the images are 100 per cent real. For a taste of what this technology is capable of, check out this Rapid VR video of Australian Olympic gold Torah Bright tearing up the snow dunes while you control the camera.
Rapid VR is the latest challenger to traditional filmmaking: it involves capturing "interactive" 360 degree footage that can be viewed in any direction. This is achieved by filming the same scene with multiple custom-rigged cameras and stitching it all together using special editing software. Viewers can then control where the camera "looks"; including above and directly behind them.
Fans of the Oculus Rift will have a pretty good idea of how 360 VR works. Indeed, the movies are fully compatible with Oculus Rift headsets and work in much the same manner.
We checked out a few examples at the company's Sydney headquarters and the results were nothing short of astonishing. One harrowing example depicted a great white shark circling the viewer before swallowing them whole (to achieve this effect, a real-life shark actually chomped down a Rapid VR camera.)
Naturally, the best way to experience Rapid VR movies is with a virtual reality headset: but the technology can also be viewed on phones and tablets (via the built-in gyro-sensors and accelerometer) or on a computer (by simply moving your mouse or trackpad around.)
When it comes to gaming, there are some obvious limitations to this technology: because the sequences are pre-shot you're basically stuck on rails like an old-school FPS. On the other hand, the addition of actual real people, animals and environments adds a level of immersion that even the most sophisticated game graphics lack. The possibilities surrounding narrative fiction are certainly intriguing.
We anticipate we'll be seeing plenty more of this technology in the months to come. In the meantime, you can check out the aforementioned Torah Bright example by clicking on the video below: