IMAX see the benefit of VR and have announced investment of $50 Million to create a new line of premium content that will be showcased at its VR centres which the company have started rolling out around the world.
By the end of 2016, IMAX VR centres should be up and running in six locations around the world, with the first two nearing completion in Los Angeles and Manchester (England). These venues will offer premium VR experiences, which will offer unique VR content with the aim of delivering an experience better than that which can be achieved at home.
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Part of this strategy is a partnership with Starbreeze who are in the process of creating a high-end VR headset called StarVR. The Swedish game development studio will have its headset at the center of the premium experience at the IMAX VR centres. One of the main reasons Starbreeze have been chosen as opposed to an already released headset like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, which are more than capable of delivering an IMAX experience, is the StarVR headset’s significantly wider field of view (210 degrees vs 100 degrees) and higher resolution (5120×1440 vs 2160×1200).
To compliment the hardware, IMAX are making sure the content is available and have dedicated a $50 Million budget to creating VR content especially for the centres. Investors include Acer, CAA, China Media Capital, Enlight Media, The Raine Group, Studio City and WPP, with the aim to create at least 25 new interactive experiences over the next 3 years.
“A new level of premium, high-quality content for use throughout the VR ecosystem,” according to IMAX Corp. CEO Richard L. Gelfond. “We will be leveraging our collective relationships with world-class filmmakers and content creators to fund VR experiences that excite and attract a larger user base to capitalize on opportunities across all VR platforms including IMAX VR.”
Each experience is expected to last between 5 and 15 minutes and will largely contain content from movie franchises and game publishers. The experience will undoubtedly cost a premium, just like IMAX experiences already demand at the big screen, for the enhanced movie experience.
Starbreeze expect that the headset and accompanying content will be around five years ahead of what home VR technology could offer. Further to the experiences at the cinema, IMAX could be looking to bring its enhanced content to all VR headsets in a hope to create fully immersive content that can be enjoyed anywhere to keep the company relevant.