Biança is a highly-experienced programme maker, with twenty years of storytelling experience as a TV Producer / Director for ITV, BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, RTE and Discovery. In the last two years Biança has started using her well-honed storytelling skills to create narrative driven 360° and virtual reality films for corporate and broadcast clients.
What brings you to the Milk Bar?
We love virtual reality and 360° and what it can do and we like showing other people the possibilities it offers.
Why are you passionate about these emerging technologies?
I have spent 20 years working in broadcast television. Our Company Directors have 40 years of broadcast television between them. That’s a lot of storytelling experience. Virtual Reality and 360° offers us completely new ways of telling stories. We have had to reinvent the wheel to tell those stories because the traditional methods to tell stories in a linear way do not exist or do not work for 360°. That’s a challenge and challenges are fun and worth getting passionate about.
In your opinion, how mainstream are these technologies really going to be?
The latest figures estimate VR and AR combined will be worth $162 billion by 2020 - hardware and content. Those figures are conservative and were released before the huge impact seen by Pokemon Go in 2016. The AR mobile game generated $250 million within a month of its release and by the end of the year $1 billion.
Within VR there were 12 million VR headsets sold globally in 2016, and predictions are for 171 million active VR users by 2018. Virgin, Marriot, Merrell are just a small handful of the companies using VR and AR in a variety of ways to engage, educate or inform and it is not just brand names using the technology. Medical, military, tourism, education, entertainment, space, gaming, property developers, journalism, leisure, retailers are all industries already using the technology. I would say based on that it already is mainstream.
Honestly the best way to illustrate the difference is a demo. This really is technology that needs experienced but here goes with a quick break down in words ….
AR is Augmented Reality meaning you take an image of the real world and superimpose a computer generated image, some audio, text layers or something else ‘unreal’ on top of that image. This could be in a 360° environment or on a linear screen. The Pokemon Go mobile phone app game is the perfect example. You download the Pokemon Go app, open your phone camera and the app will superimpose a Pokemon onto the real location you are looking at. Ikea also recently released an AR app that means you can superimpose pieces of their furnishings into the rooms in your home via photos on your phone or iPad.
VR is Virtual Reality and the purists are keen to make clear that in the true sense of the term it is fully computer-generated imagery to create an environment. This could be a completely imaginary world, or a replication of a real environment. The none-purists like us see Virtual Reality as a catch all term that can mean fully computer generated or 360° video and everything in between.
Can our bodies and minds really cope with VR, is there a border not to cross?
It is not a question of whether our bodies and minds can ‘cope’ with VR we already know it can, but of course there are some concerns about the technology. I have been asked about everything from whether the proximity of the phone to the eyes can affect eyesight, whether it will make individuals more isolated given that VR by its nature is a solitary activity, through to the possibility that VR gamers will be more likely or quicker to become desensitised to violence in a 360° environment.
All of these have a grain of truth in them if you sit for ten hours a day with a headset on, but as with most things in life it is about being sensible and using it in moderation. VR can be a great way of educating or entertaining an audience and the best VR experiences are on average five to ten minutes long. What they do is give the user a short ‘experience’ whether that is a training video for fire fighters or the sights and sounds of the Caribbean when planning your next holiday.
Don't miss your chance to meet and hear from Biança at the Milk Bar on Friday, 10 February 2017, 3 - 6 pm!