Speed Kills Is A Feature-Length VR Movie Starring John Travolta

by Jamie Feltham • December 11th, 2017

We’ve been hearing for years how VR could be the next big thing for Hollywood, and now one of its biggest stars is finally appearing in a VR movie.

Announced this month, the Speed Kills VR Experience is a new episodic film directed by Travis Cloyd, and produced by Richard Del Castro, Guy Griffithe and Cloyd, in conjunction with TopDogVR. It also happens to star John Travolta. Yes that John Travolta, the one from Pulp Fiction, Face/Off and Grease. Based on the book by Arthur J. Harris, the film follows the life of speedboat racing champion. Interestingly, though, the film has been shot in both standard format and in VR. While a big screen release will take place in 2018, the VR component will be distributed a little different.

While the larger film is produced by Hannibal Pictures, TopDogVR helped produce the VR edition. Over 60 minutes of VR content has been shot, which will, in turn, be divided up into eight segments that will be viewable through a free VR app launching later this year. You’ll be able to boot up a movie-themed environment in VR and then select episodes to watch as your leisure, which is a wise decision given people can find spending extended time with a VR headset on uncomfortable.

Footage was captured with 360 degree cameras fitted to drones, boasts and more. In VR, you’ll be able to look around the environment as if you were really there. Check out a clip of the VR experience in the video above.

It sounds like an ambitious project for sure, but will the VR experience be able to capture the same kind of cinematic quality as the traditional film? Star power is all well and good, but VR storytelling still needs to figure out some of the basics at this early stage.

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  • Mark

    i don’t like 360 videos, they look very shoddy quality wise I just don’t see the point

  • Tonelowke

    Travolta is looking like a cross between Arnold and Bruce Willis in that poster.

  • Graham

    I’m actually quite interested in seeing what this is like – could be a good litmus test for the whole vr movie thing

  • Ilia Parshakov

    What did they use to film it, the good old Gear 360?

  • Sven

    360 video is not VR, Apart from the Joshua Bell experience I haven’t seen a single 360 video that even looked somewhat decent when it comes to scale, distortion and immersion.

    Plus only Tarantino knows how to make a scene interesting with only a static camera viewpoint, and even he needs close ups to drive the tension. Strange days gave a better impression of VR video than any 360 video can.

    • T Sheehan

      Right? Sacrifice the 360, go to 180 or 220 and put those pixels to better use, and most importantly…THREEEEE DEEEEEEE!

      • Sven

        I don’t know about that. The 3D ones I’ve seen all have horrible distortion to the side, none feel right anyway as it doesn’t react to head movements. The Joshua Bell experience is 3D yet it’s a 3D reconstructed environment with different video layers acting as textures allowing limited head movements. To make a whole movie like that would take a lot of effort.

        Something like Allumette works much better, yet then you are limited to the hardware rendering it in real time. Perhaps a mixture could work like the old phantasmagoria and seventh guest games.

        • DeeHawk

          I’d rather have 3D and no head tracking (well ultimately, they’ll figure it out). Regular 180 and 360 movies are worthless IMO. Being able to choose what you look at, is not desirable at all, but an unfortunate bi-product of the immersion VR gives.

          • Sven

            3D also limits artistic expression as using different focal lengths, depth of view and other effects look bad in 3D. Yet I guess directors have had well over a century to perfect 2D movie styles, 3D might get its own staple of artistic touches that can’t work in 2D, and perhaps the same for VR movies. Although I have a hard time imagining how exactly.

            Perhaps VR would work for a movie like Enter the void, which is basically one long out of body experience. The out of body experience in Here they lie is a great sequence.

  • daveinpublic

    One day, we’ll look back at this film like some people look back at the first black and white movies.