Syfy is Launching a New Series Using Both VR and TV This September

by Jamie Feltham • June 23rd, 2016

We’re a long way off from VR replacing the living room TV, but until we get there Syfy is experimenting with an interesting hybrid approach.

The science-fiction focused TV network has this week announced that its new series, Halcyon, will be debuting on September 22nd 2016. Why is that significant to VR fans? Because Halcyon mixes together both traditional episodes with VR instalments viewed on headsets like the Oculus Rift or Gear VR. The series is created and produced by Secret Location, which won VR’s first Emmy award for its work on a Sleepy Hollow VR experience and directed by Benjamin Arfmann, and will be a short-form season that will consist of 15 episodes, 10 taking the form of traditional instalments, while the other five will be viewed within VR.

Halcyon is set in the year 2040 and follows, believe or not, a leading VR company. No, that company isn’t Oculus, HTC or Sony. Instead it shares the same name as the show’s title, which plans to evolve VR beyond headsets by introducing neurological implants to manipulate the senses. The company’s CEO is murdered, however, and an investigation into if this could have been the very first ‘virtual crime’, led by Detective Jules Dover and her partner Asha, gets underway.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a way to watch it in VR; recaps of the VR episodes will be available for those just watching the TV series. On the other hand, you’ll also be able to watch traditional episodes on both the Rift and Gear.

This is quite possibly the biggest commitment to VR yet seen from a TV network, though it’s hardly surprising coming from one that’s all about the future. 360 video still has a long way to go before we can truly consider if to be a worthy replacement to traditional TV, however.

For starters, we need 3D capture to become far more common for spherical media than it is right now, and we also need to integrate positional tracking into live action footage. That’s obviously a massive challenge given that a camera can only record from one spot, but research into light field technology and more may present possible solutions.

Still, if this makes more sci-fi fans aware of VR’s potential then we’re all for it.

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