Film Industry

VR Movies: Our Guide On How To Make Virtual Reality Movies

Photograph of the blog post author, Jodie Francis

Jodie Francis

22.4.2021

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Would you like to learn more about virtual reality movies? Then you have come to the right place! VR movies have proved to be extremely popular and lucrative over the years. Some movies use VR as a plot point and make good use of virtual reality. Think films like The Matrix or Ready Player One. 3D VR movies can take the audience on a journey that they won’t be forgetting for a while.

man watching virtual reality movies

There are many different techniques that go into making VR movies, and some will be very different from what you are used to. We will also let you know where you can check out some virtual reality movies for yourself. So, if you would like to learn how to make virtual reality movies, then make sure you stay tuned!

What Is VR?

VR movies

VR can be defined as a simulated, three-dimensional environment that has been created by computer technology. As opposed to an observational interface, more focus is put onto what’s known as an experiential interface.

This allows the experience to be more immersive for the audience, as people can interact with different objects and their environment. VR typically utilises a headset that the viewer will look into and wear. Some more complex VR will use headgear, gloves, remote controls, and more.

In terms of virtual reality movies, filmmakers may define it as the technique of fully immersing their audience into the characters and the world that they have created. 

Why Make VR Movies?

man watching VR

So, what are the benefits of making VR movies? It turns out that there are many!

For example, it enhances the reality for the viewer. It can provide a fantastic form of escapism for people living stressful lives. If VR is done right in movies you can feel as if you have travelled to a whole other world without actually doing so! This kind of technology is powerful, and the graphics and sounds have all been carefully selected to provide the viewer with the best possible experience. 

Furthermore, it’s fun! It can also bring people together and prompt communication between family and friends. Following the film, you can discuss your experiences and how the film made you feel. Therefore, it can also provide a great bonding experience between people. 

VR movies can provide the most fantastic details and make the film appear more interesting and realistic in comparison to normal films. This is especially relevant when it comes to panoramic views of landscapes, as you can see a long way into the distance. It may feel as if you have taken a trip to visit a new location, but in reality you are sat watching a movie. This is helped by the sound effects added in post-production.

Furthermore, for differently-abled people, VR movies can provide a form of escapism for them and create a unique interactive experience. This is powerful stuff!

How To Make VR Movies

Now that we understand the advantages of making VR movies, it’s time to put the focus on actually making them.

In this section of the article, we will outline the main ways that you can make one yourself. Let’s get into it!

Understanding The Process

woman watching VR

Understanding the process behind making VR 360 movies is an important step in the process. After all, there are plenty of differing types of technology open to you, but time and budget restraints can come into play and prevent you from making VR movies.

The VR 360 movie process affects a whole range of filming factors, such as lighting, sound, and also during post-production. So, here we will take a look at the best ways for you to make VR films. 

Storyline 

story

First things first (like with any movie) you need to figure out the storyline. This is important in movies made for VR, as you need to consider how it will look and feel for your audience even more. 

Carefully consider the setting of your film, as you want to make it as immersive as possible. So, think about dramatic places, like outer space or a horror movie set in the woods. Or you could go for a fantasy setting, as these lend themselves perfectly to VR. 

Think outside of the box when it comes to your setting and story, as this could take your film in a whole different direction. Also, be creative – don’t just copy or mimic what has been done before. This way, your VR film will be truly unique and memorable.

Camera 

video camera

Now it’s time to examine the specifics when shooting a VR film. Firstly, let’s begin with the camera. Shooting in natural light, and maybe using practical lighting, can help to elevate the look and therefore the experience of a VR film. 

What’s more, you should carefully consider your camera movement so that it maintains the storyline. By camera movements, we are referring to the way that the camera pans, as this can significantly affect how the audience feels. For example, a slow pan could increase the tension of a movie scene and put the audience on the edge of their seat. 

Make sure that you take into account what’s happening so that the camera movement works logically with the script. Finally, it’s all about your equipment. Prior to filming, you need to discuss with your director of photography and their team what would work best. This also allows you to budget and plan effectively. 

Location

map virtual reality movies

The location of your movie should not be overlooked, as it’s a vital part of making a film successful. Of course, it has to work with your storyline, although it would be a good idea to choose a location where the audience will be impressed with a panoramic view.

Bigger, natural spaces with plenty of light will be much more attractive to the eye. If you were to choose a dark or cramped space, then this will accommodate less detail. However, this may be needed for some scenes. Remember, it needs to make sense!

Sound

sound

There are restrictions when it comes to making VR movies and sound. For example, you will only be able to use a lavalier mic (a smaller, more personal microphone) in comparison to a boom operator. This may present you with some challenges, and you should ensure that you hire people who know what they are doing. 

During post-production, you should consider both the sound design and movie score as an immersive experience. This is because it won’t be progressing in a linear fashion. This is where diegetic and non-diegetic sound comes into play.

Put simply, diegetic sound is sound heard by characters on-screen, whereas non-diegetic sound isn’t vital to moving along the story, but it can add to the film if used. 

Editing

editing

When it comes to editing your film, it’s likely that you will notice some big differences from making regular films compared to VR films. For example, traditional film transitions and cuts don’t exist in the world of VR filmmaking and cinema

You need to put yourself in the perspective of the viewer and tell the story in a transportive manner, rather than moving from one scene to the next. It will take time and practise, but if you take care in the editing stage, then you will end up with a fantastic film.

You could use a VR movie app, as there are plenty to choose from, to get a feel for the final product and what it’s supposed to look like. Also, for those of you out there wondering how to watch movies in VR, this is a great way to do so!

Marketing & Promoting VR Movies

promotion virtual reality movies

When it comes to marketing your film, you want to get people excited about their potential VR movie experience. It has actually become a somewhat common practice for filmmakers to hire a second camera crew purely to capture behind-the-scenes footage for use in marketing and promoting your movie. 

360 cameras can now shoot from all angles and therefore capture some truly memorable promotional shots. Plenty of famous movies have made use of this, for example, the movie Mission Impossible Fallout (2018) had a promotional video with Tom Cruise doing some impressive stunts. This draws people in, as the movie looks exciting. 

Another great example of a different promotional video clip is called Battle at Avenger Tower. This video is computer-generated with many of the most recognisable Marvel superhero characters. The audience can move and travel with them in a 3D VR video. This can make people feel as if they are in a superhero movie! If this doesn’t make you want to see the film, then we don’t know what will. 

Finally, the people behind The Martian movie went one step further and actually created a 3D VR game for people to play. It put you onto Mars and you could travel around. This was a truly immersive experience! 

Many big movies make use of VR to promote their movies, whether that be with interactive games, 360 video clips, or 360 video clips. Some of these adverts and promotions will need you to wear a special VR headset, whereas others can be viewed on normal screens. So, make sure that you consider how you will promote your virtual reality film. This is your chance to really get creative. 

Now You Know How To Make VR Movies

virtual reality movies

So, there we have it – everything you need to know about making virtual reality movies! VR movies can really elevate your film to the next level, as they can truly transport audiences to far-off places.

Remember to carefully consider your setting, as this is of vital importance when it comes to making your film. VR movies tend to be easier to make and construct for high-concept films, like fantasy or scary horror movies. This tends to be because these concepts are immersive to their audience anyway.

The process behind making a VR movie may seem intimidating at first, as there are some limitations. For example, you can’t use traditional transitions and cuts in editing, and you also can’t use all of your kit that you might use in your other films.

However, if you are passionate about virtual reality movies and you are passionate about your film, then there will be no problems! Also, remember to save some money in your budget to create promotional content for your film. If done well, it can really generate a buzz and excitement around the movie. You could create a music video, a game, or simply some 360 promotional shots. The options are endless!

We hope that this article was helpful to you, and that you now feel confident to go out there and start making virtual reality movies!

Would you like to read more fun filmmaking content? Then make sure that you head over to the Music Gateway blog – we have everything that you need! You could learn How To Write Dystopian Fiction, How to Become a Movie Producer, How to Become a Screenwriter, and plenty more! So, what are you waiting for? Check them out today!  

Are You A Filmmaker?

Are you an independent filmmaker, or interested in the crossover between music and film? Then check out our article on music supervisors. With our concierge and service and extensive music library, allow us to help you find music for your film. Sign up free for Music Gateway now!

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