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OMERS Ventures and Canadian Film Centre to evaluate virtual reality ecosystem

The Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab and OMERS Ventures, while attending the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California, have announced the co-authorship of a research report titled Pulse on VR: A Workflow and Ecosystem Study, to identify how best to bring virtual reality to viewers.
Identifying the key players in the emerging VR industry and sketching out its primary workflows remains a key challenge to developing new work and encouraging media creators to make virtual reality productions.
“The current reality of the VR workflow in North America is that it’s complex, multi-layered and not well understood,” said Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, Canadian Film Centre. “This lack of clarity risks hindering growth in the VR ecosystem. With this study, we hope to uncover strengths, weaknesses and gaps in Canada’s VR ecosystem in order to determine and tap into new areas for growth in VR that offer promising market potential.”
While it’s clear that VR has a future in industrial applications, like the Industrial Internet of Things, whether the technology eventually catches on at the consumer level, or finds itself in the same dustbin as discarded technologies like home theatre 3D, remains to be seen.
Industry forecasts speculate hopefully that shipments of headsets may reach two million units this year and 10 times that amount by 2018, and that the entire VR industry may be worth US$150 billion by 2020.
Principal research into the VR ecosystem will be executed by Nordcity, a consultancy that specializes in Strategy and Business, Economic Analysis, Impact and Evaluation across the creative and digital media industries.
“Virtual reality is very much a nascent technology and it remains to be seen how the Canadian VR ecosystem will evolve,” said Prashant Matta, Venture Capitalist, OMERS Ventures. “This study will help us understand the opportunities and challenges that VR will bring to the entertainment industry and beyond.”
The research will be funded by the Canada Media Fund (CMF-FMC), Telefilm Canada, Creative BC, On Screen Manitoba (OSM) and New Media Manitoba (NMM), the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), la Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC) and supported by Super Ventures.
The report will focus on Canadian VR content creators, as well as the companies that make the technology that supports virtual reality, but will also look at the industry in California.
An article on the CFC website features Patrick Milling Smith, the co-founder of Los Angeles studio Vrse.works, who says of VR, “It really is all so fresh, it makes your brain hurt.”
“Everything good that is done in the medium redefines what people thought you could do,” says Milling Smith. “We’re in that experimental stage, where creativity and the desire to tell story and push story will define the language of the medium. And it’s all happening at great speed.”
Dividing virtual reality into three types of user experience, active VR (e.g. games), passive VR (e.g. linear documentary experiences) and hybrid VR experiences (combining both active and passive VR), the study will evaluate the state of the current VR ecosystem in Canada and look for ways to further develop the industry.
Media creators who enabling either software or hardware for VR content can participate in the study by completing an online survey, which will be available online until Friday, July 8, 2016.
While waiting for the VR media revolution to come, enjoy this hopefully satirical project by Canadian horror master David Cronenberg, in which he uses a lot of the tropes and optimistic projections frequently used by technology companies in order to have a little fun at their expense.

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