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Is Netflix already VR's "Killer App"?


When it comes to virtual reality there are no limits to the possibilities of where you can go, what you can see, and the ways you can interact with your content. As we move forward into the golden age of vr there are thousands of app and hardware developers trying to find innovative ways to use the technology. There is no wrong answer in virtual business right now, but there are still some very right answers too. As people begin rushing to build the application or game that will begin causing mass shipments of Vive, Gear and Oculus headsets, one app has risen above the others almost instantly, and you've probably already used it elsewhere.

Netflix's virtual theater isn't much at the moment. Looking around the 360° digital living room that the company has built you can't help but ask yourself, "Why did they limit themselves to a living room?" With posters promoting various Netflix series, you can understand why they'd want an environment that can be updated for ads, but to go into virtual reality and be greeted with a pretty standard living room is a bit of a missed opportunity. I can now watch Twitch on the moon, a living room isn't going to cut it.

Upon looking straight up though you come across what's being termed as the void theater. "The Void" is grey with nothing in the virtual space but the screen. It's this space that is going to change home entertainment completely. Within the void I can control the sizing and position of the screen in front of me. Let me rephrase, I can now watch the largest tv screen I've ever owned, laying down in any position. Laying down on a bed and looking straight up is now a comfortable option for watching movies. In fact, by enlarging the screen beyond my scope of vision creates for a fully immersive film experience. The only disappointment so far is that the app only has two options, grey and living room.

When one is trying to determine what entertainment options they want in VR, one of the first films to come to mind is The Matrix. At the moment of this writing, the Keanu Reeves starring flick is not available on any native apps, but luckily for us The Animatrix is. Blowing up the void screen to max and pressing play changed how I will perceive VR. The Animatrix was an anime anthology of stories that take place in the Matrix universe. For a time, especially during the short "The Second Renaissance", I felt like I was in the Matrix. Watching the film on a screen almost as large as a digital Imax gave me such an immersive experience, my mind raced at the possibilities.

Within the next 2 years, hell, possibly the next 6 months now that we're talking about it, it's possible that Netflix and IMAX could partner to bring IMAX formatted films to a digital home device or IMAX could develop a proprietary app for their aspect ratio. Within VR, there are no screen constraints. It's all about changing the digital screen size. An entire catalog of IMAX library content will have a place to be viewed. This includes domed IMAX films created for the specialty screen. It's just about manipulating the digital screen now, no expensive hardware or projectors to fuss over. Even 70mm films will be able to be presented in their true aspect ratios.

I've already started making lists of content in Netflix that is ripe for viewing on VR devices. The Kirsten Dunst starrer Upside Down is required viewing within the app. The unique sci-fantasy film deals with two planets being close enough in proximity that they share a gravitational field. A girl from the upper posh planet and a boy from the underside fall in love, though they aren't allowed to be near each other. The film is shot with a lot of upside down perspective. By maxing out the screen and viewing the movie laying down, the entire experience takes on a new life, giving the movie a layer of immersion I have never experienced. This is the way to watch this film, but films aren't the only thing that receive a boost from viewing through VR.

Anime fans already know that Attack on Titan is a visceral, brutal experience. Watching the show through VR? That's down right intense. Attack on Titan follows a group of teens as they enlist to fight hordes of human looking monsters that feed on humanity. In the already kinetic battles from the show we get to see crazy aerial battles through cobblestone streets. In the immersive screening room, it can almost feel like you're strapped into maneuver gear yourself, zipping into battle next to Eren and Mikasa. A rewatch of Attack on Titan in VR should be on every fans list of things that must be done before season 2 comes later this year.

These are just the first few of many, many films and series that Netflix has on tap to create immersive digital cinema. As the technology continues to grow, 3D films, IMAX, and curved digital screens will all begin to become available through either the streaming giant itself or one of its competitors. College kids will climb into their dorm bunks and throw on VR headsets to binge the latest season of The Flash while their roommates go about their business. Small homes and apartments will be filled with things other than televisions as the biggest TVs you can find will be in your pocket.

Here's a link to a list of some of the best films to hit Netflix that should be watched in Netflix VR.


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