Monetisation and IP strategies were key topics at the Marche NEXT panel ‘Silicon Valley and Beyond: Global Pioneers in VR.’

Morgan Bouchet, head of VR and Innovation at telecom giant Orange, discussed the company’s new content strand which soft-launched in December, with a goal to create and distribute VR and AR content, some of which will include the ability to interact with other users via social engagement and avatars.

Bouchet also said it is of interest for the mobile brand to work out how to download and stream VR experiences.

Antoine Cayrol, producer and co-founder of Paris-based VR company Okio Studio – said ‘location-based cinemas’ (cinemas showing VR) is helping broaden both their audience and monetisation efforts, with French distributor mk2 taking on board their film I, Philip via its new VR arm mk2 VR. 

“There are location-based cinemas all over the world. You might only receive a check for €65, but it’s the beginning, it’s more than we had last year,” said Cayrol.    

Ryan Horrigan, Chief Content Officer at Félix&Paul, said the Quebec-based studio is also benefitting from mk2’s new VR distribution framework, with their 40-minute VR project Miyubi added to its VR line-up. 

“We want to slowly start the monetisation gears, to make VR a self-sustaining business. It’s like mirroring the independent film world, where we can get pre-sales from VR arcades. Then one platform can help you with financing, while another platform can help you with TVOD or SVOD,” said Horrigan. 

Christina Tasooji, producer at San Francisco-based Penrose Studios, agreed funding is soon to change, with current prices set at premium pricing. But as content becomes more mobile-based, it will have to adapt to existing freemium strategies. 

Intellectual Property (‘IP’)

Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell discussed his VR project Invasion, and its follow-up Asteroids (which is screening in Cannes), which has led to a development deal with Joe Roth’s company (Roth Films).

“He [Joe Roth] said we should see if we can turn it [Invasion] into a feature film. It speaks to the potential of VR and its value.”

Cayrol also added the importance of IP, saying agents in Los Angeles were willing to offer more investment money if there was a strong director or IP. 

“Currently we can get significant money from Hulu or Oculus for arty films, because they want us to try new things. But that is soon to change, as the industry continues to grow,” said Cayrol.  

The Future

Darnell explained elements such as full dynamic streaming, where resolution can be doubled solely where the viewer is looking, and predictive tracking, where the headset knows where you will look next, as well as stronger displays are coming in the near future.  

“Most limitations are not on the capture side – they are on the display side. 4k displays will help with this,” Darnell said. 

Tasooji highlighted that while Penrose is working within both VR and AR formats; the VR world isn’t going anywhere. 

“You will be able to watch a film with a VR headset, and you will be able to watch a film with thinner AR glasses.  There is a need for both mediums.”