Virtual reality is for more than games. Movies and television studios will no doubt move to embrace the technology — 3D movies are already popular, after all, and at least one movie made for Oculus already exists. Gone, though, may prove to be the first successful episodic series produced for viewing through a dedicated headset…in this case, Samsung’s Gear VR. The first episode will premiere on Tuesday.
Samsung has teamed with Skybound Entertainment to create Gone, a show about a mother trying to find her daughter. The episodes will be released on Samsung’s Milk VR app where its smartphone owners can watch the episode through the company’s own and newly launched virtual reality headset. Unlike traditional television, however, viewers will get to interact with the show.
In addition to looking around within the scenes as demonstrated in the video above, users will also be able to interact in limited degrees with the environment. For example, viewers will have the option to zoom in on “hotspots” — various cues or clues — that pertain to the overall storyline. This is described as a design choice where viewers are “sucked in” to those hotspots once they look at them.
Samsung’s VP for Content Strategy Matt Apfel described this as, “You are on a bit of a scavenger hunt.”
Hotspots stick around for a specific amount of time before disappearing, and content unlocked in them plays at the same speed as the rest of the plot, keeping them from being distracting. It’s like changing your vantage point within the scene while that scene happens; someone who, via a hotspot, is given a different vantage point will see the same scene as those who didn’t find the hotspot, perhaps finding clues about the story at the same time.
The creators had to toe a fine line between making the show interactive but not overwhelming viewers to the point that they ended up confused or disinterested. As well, the hotspots will shape the experience, but aren’t so great as it turn the show into a “choose-your-own-adventure” experience. Still, viewers will be provided with a tutorial to help them understand how Gone plays out.