How Video Creators Have Explored the Cool and Weird Corners of VR

/ Feb 27, 2015

Virtual Reality in VideoInk

You can see almost any major video trend imaginable reflected in YouTube videos. As the buzz for virtual reality gets louder, YouTubers and other digital media brands have naturally picked up on it (it’s what they do best), and the numbers show just how much word on VR has recently been spreading. Let’s put it this way—as of January 29, there were 124,000 total videos about virtual reality on YouTube, according to data from Tubular Labs. Of those videos, 14,000 of them (that’s a full 11%) had been uploaded in the past 90 days.

Virtual Reality videos are getting big on YouTube
Just as the numbers reflect the topic’s popularity, the videos themselves show what kind of content might start appearing across VR platforms. Besides the obvious (gaming), the following videos from brands like BuzzFeed and AOL explore VR possibilities like simulating bystander status in real-life crimes and shopping in a virtual store. Check out how other digital creators delve into the emerging world of virtual reality…

PewDiePie

Using Oculus tech, the famous Let’s Player explores VR video games that involve his real live (but also virtual) hands. This video shows a variety of different VR games ranging in genre from Pokémon to artsy werewolf to heart-thumping horror.

Tested

It’s only appropriate that a YouTube channel focused on “the stories of the people who are working to build the future” would feature multiple VR test videos. This one from almost a year ago profiles Sony’s Project Morpheus and emphasizes the gaming usage of VR. It also goes over all the specifics for making this 360-degree video a comfortable experience, such as using LCD, featuring limbs, and allowing tracking that lets images keep up with viewers’ movements. This video also discusses social VR experiences, which is definitely interesting to think about (VR business meetings?).

Tested takes a look at Oculus Rift, too, focusing on movement, resolution, and a load of other VR mechanics:

Most recently, the channel explored Samsung Gear VR/Oculus:

Complex

Released in January, this video lets some relatively young testers experience virtual reality porn. They described it as “uncomfortable,” “real,” and “terrifying” (the last due to the worry that it will take away the need for humans to physically interact). Men and women both noted preference for watching from the male’s perspective in the porno (though no one in the video disclosed their sexual orientations). Overall, this explores another video possibility of VR that may not exactly be touted by those most actively developing content and hardware in the mainstream (because porn isn’t mainstream?).

iJustine on AOL

Samsung’s head of VR, Nick DiCarlo, noted that an ultimate goal of theirs for VR is to create apps specific to the medium–just like how Twitter is meant for mobile devices. This video, though it takes us all the way back to August 2013, shows Justine Ezarik (iJustine) in the AOL series “Hardwired with iJustine” participating in a VR shopping expedition, using technology that allows her to virtually try on clothing and accessories that she describes look just like the physical manifestation of the outfits. Imagine if something like this could extend to a whole interactive shopping VR experience, in which you can not only try on the clothes but also walk through the virtual store you’re buying them from.

The Fine Brothers

“Elders React to Oculus Rift” shows some poignant commentary on a new-age device in the Fine Brothers classic, creative format. Though the virtual reality experienced by the elders here looks a little “fake,” as they noted (in other words, like they’re in a video game, not a live action film), it still accomplishes the feelings of “being there,” reproducing the stomach-dropped effects of a roller coaster, for instance, as the viewers sit still at a desk. Most of the elders predict the video technology’s future popularity.

BuzzFeedYellow

“Being a Witness in Virtual Reality” features BuzzFeed employees witnessing a crime scene in VR with the objective of filming what’s happening before them. The VR video actually depicts a real-life incident of multiple border patrol agents beating/watching the beating of a handcuffed man, Anastasio Rojas, and features actual audio from the crime scene. Rojas died from his injuries from the beating BuzzFeed staff watched in VR. Emblematic Group created the VR experience “to call attention to the fact that no border patrol agents were charged in this case,” marking another novel and important use of the technology.

Jacksepticeye

Another Let’s Player, Jacksetpiceye explores an important problem with current VR content—it can easily make you feel ill, partially because you can’t see your own feet, but in this roller coaster simulator it’s because your “character” (aka, you) moves very fast…and you’re on a roller coaster. This gamer also mentions an interesting problem when it comes to recording VR experiences to upload to YouTube. Normally, the Oculus Rift should be going at 75 frames per second, but when you record, this rate goes down to 60 frames per second. Thus, moving around within the virtual world doesn’t go so smoothly… Jacksepticeye also mentions at the end of the video that Oculus Rift developers have been in touch with him since seeing his videos using it on YouTube, showing that overall, VR brands are paying attention to how they’re portrayed by digital talent.

This article is part of VideoInk’s “VI Goes VR” special issue, which explores the current opportunity and future potential in virtual reality for the entertainment industry. 

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