Whether virtual reality is the next big thing everyone seems to think it will be is yet to be proven, but Vice, Samsung and Within made a good case for it showing a series of immersive VR projects that demonstrate its vast potential at Cannes Lions.
Speaking at Cannes Lions this week, Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu described it as the creation of a new media that finally allows storytelling to break through the restriction of ‘frames’ and elevates media to another level.
Mathieu, who joined Samsung as CMO six months ago, said: “We’re lucky – very rarely in our lifetime do we experience the invention of a new medium.
“Life is a giant story but we’ve gone backwards since the cavemen. Cavemen used the 360 degrees of the cave to capture a moment in painting, but since then we started to capture everything in a frame with pictures and movies. It was always limited by the frame so we are now at a unique moment in time.”
Samsung has partnered with Vice and VR production house Within on a project called 'beyond the frame' as it develops and evolves VR technology and it becomes a more mainstream channel. Vice is producing a series of documentaries that will air on its TV network.
“We believe that the magic is not going to be in a few people embracing VR but the many - the storyteller in all of us that to take this new medium and define what it’s going to be, what it can be and what it will be,” he added.
Eddy Moretti, Vice chief creative officer, told the room that Vice, which prides itself on being ‘platform agnostic’ believes “the VR chapter [of storytelling] is a long one and its jut getting underway”.
“The power of going beyond the frame is addictive,” he added. “Imagine what our business will look like -s an entertainment company in a few years. Beyond the frame is a whole new way of seeing things and experiencing them. It’s here and it's powerful and we have to engage with it.’
Chris Milk, founder of Within, believes VR's role is greater than technology or media – it’s about human experience.
“Virtual reality isn’t the evolution of cinema, it’s not an evolution of video games – it’s a completely new medium and it’s about human experience. When you witness it you are experiencing it first hand – we’ve never told stories like that before. It was always ‘once upon a time’ a story about people over there. Now it’s about us over here,” he said.
“It will lead to the democratisation of human experience like the internet led to the democratisation of information."
However, the session, while showing the potential, was flawed. The problem that virtual reality faces in becoming a mainstream channel is that it’s impossible to demonstrate the power of VR without actually experiencing it. In a room with just screens and audio, it couldn’t tell the full story.
So while brands are experimenting, it’s still early days and Mathieu pointed beyond what is currently possible and at the opportunities as VR evolves.
“We are at this really early stage and there are no rules [yet]. They are being defined by all of us, but when you think of it beyond a storytelling platform, almost as an operating platform, then what?”
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