This is the first in a series of posts from leading VR and AR influencers in the run-up to MIPTV 2017. The posts are coordinated by VAST MEDIA, a Berlin-based media consultancy.
Morgan Bouchet is Director Digital Content & Innovation and Head of VR at Orange Content Division.
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us what brought you into the VR/AR/immersive space?
I’m Morgan Bouchet, Director of Innovation & VR at Orange Content Division, and founder of the French think tank UNI-VR.org which is dedicated to Virtual Reality. I joined Orange in 2000 to develop new businesses and digital content services (video & music on demand, Web TV, Social TV, …) and set out to promote, assess and experiment with new forms of storytelling associated with the development of new uses and new technologies. My role at Orange content division is to evangelize and prepare the group to our future customers needs (Millennials programs, virtual and augmented reality, mixed reality).
What are the biggest challenges VR producers and content creators are currently facing ?
Since the creation of cinema and television, creators have dealt with technology evolutions such as sound, color, HD, 4K, but also new media uses such as “on demand”, “binge watching”, “second screen” and “social tv”. In the course of these changes viewers have been always in a passive mode (except for social tv) and in a spectator role. Today with VR and tomorrow with AR and MR, the spectators become actors! This will have a big impact on storytellers and how they will reinvent to tell stories with interactivity, an enlarged field of view, 360° sound. These “1st person” stories will be very close to what the Gaming industry is already doing.
How easy or difficult is it currently to sell immersive content? Do VR/AR entertainment companies have dedicated buyers yet?
VR and AR could be a new paradigm with a new ecosystem: new studios, new devices, new formats, new services and uses. Manufacturers are already developing their own content portals, platforms and rules in terms of editorial selections. Sometimes they even develop and produce with their own studio and talents and sell content themselves.
Could you share some of the key learnings from your own VR projects?
Since October 2016, OCS subscribers equipped with a virtual reality headset (Gear VR, Orange VR1, and soon Playstation VR) can enjoy their favorite movies and TV shows in a fully immersive environment. Subscribers enjoy OCS’s entire catalog of premium video content in an immersive VR environment customized to look like a private theatre.
This first step in VR seems to be a good experience faced to new customers needs (mobile first, be engaged in a coolest environment, watch series in a train or plane), but we are currently analysing and working to implement new 2D content services and new features such as Social.
With the Orange VR1, which is our headset equipped with high-quality lenses and built-in hi-fi headphones, selling in Orange stores in Europe for 49€, we understood three things: Content is key, Simplicity is the queen, and an affordable price and a good network are mandatory to make VR a reality.
In addition, since December 2016, Orange launched “Orange VR Experience,” a virtual reality test program in partnership with Wevr. With “Orange VR Experience”, we are testing the distribution of native VR content on the basis of partnerships with great studios. The pilot program runs in Europe and we will start to analyse users insights in the next months.
What are the most impressive VR/AR/immersive productions you have seen recently and why?
- Rihanna AR experience (proof of concept developed by Octosense, a startup based in Israel), where you can sing and dance with the artist in your living room
- The eSports VR experience from SliverTV (on Orange VR Experience in March)
- Notes on Blindness from ARTE, a documentary and narrative experience based on audio recordings made by the Australian writer John Hull to help him understand his own experience of losing his sight
- Asteroids and Invasion from Baobab studio (on Orange VR Experience in March)
Some may fear VR is the new 3D, i.e. that it will never catch on for widespread domestic use. Why do you think it’s here to stay?
3D content never transported users into another world that can be experienced and interacted with through the use of sensory devices. VR can. Try it!