What’s the future of VR movies? Is it the simple accessibility of 360-degree video? Or do new technologies like volumetric capture present a more compelling experience?
Or will it be a mix of the above?
UNLTD’s Trinity suggests it might. Set to premiere later this week both on Steam and in VR arcades around the country, this strange piece of sci-fi presents an unexpected mesh of storytelling styles not soon forgotten.
In Trinity, you find yourself in the middle of a war between cyborgs but your exact standing between the warring factions remains unclear. The first episode sees you erratically warping between two sides of a battle at different points. You’ll watch firefights unfold in impressive 360-degree sequences with production values a step above what we’re used to seeing in VR before visiting what appears to be a strange other dimension in which full 3D content comes into play. You can see the trailer for the experience below.
I’ve seen the first episode, which mixes its various styles in an intriguing fashion. It reminded me of the no-compromise weirdness of sci-fi shows like Farscape and it touches on some interesting avenues for VR storytelling.
“A few years ago, nobody knew how to apply VFX into 360 spherical video,” UNLTD CEO John Hamilton told me over email. “We also shot volumetrically, which was originally only supposed to be used for transitioning between different 360 clips in the story. However, once we saw the potential of the point cloud visuals, we rewrote the story to add in entire scenes with the volumetric material.”
Not everything works; there’s one moment in which I’m assaulted by VR bullets inside a 360-degree clip, but the inability to move my head around to dodge them Superhot-style is jarring. But there are moments of curious connection between characters here, even if the overriding ambiguity leaves you feeling more confused than anything else.
I was also intrigued by the decision to premiere the piece at VR arcades. Hamilton was confident that could do great things for both the experience and businesses that support it. “Trinity is a great introduction to a highly immersive VR experience for first time VR consumers, who are increasingly going to VR arcades,” he said. “It’s plug and play and the interactivity is controlled by your head movement with no controllers to worry about. As a result, for arcades, Trinity will help to expand their customer base outside of the traditional gamer.”
As for the future, Hamilton says this is the first in a five-episode season, with each installment having viewers follow a different character. These newer episodes will also add new interactive elements that can affect the outcome of the story. “The possibilities in immersive story-telling are endless and I think we’ve really just started getting started,” he said.
Trinity arrives on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and in arcades on November 16th.