Interview: Mark Miles – Founder, Rendermedia

How quickly is the technology moving and how easy is it to invest in the wrong solution?

I think it’s moving at an incredible pace with a lot of hardware platforms and peripherals on the market but as of yet there isn’t enough content to really show off the capabilities of this, the hardware has shot off at a greater speed than content.

We were at CES in Las Vegas this year and we saw so many cheap headsets where you place a phone in to get 360 VR but I read a static of a very high number maybe 50% of start-ups in china go bust in under a year due to the saturated market in lower end devices.

To me we are still in the early days and there will be a lot of companies that fall to the wayside but what will be constant here is content, and content can and will span multiple platforms, so I understand the reservation in companies looking at where they invest in the hardware, but I see it that the likes of HTC and Oculus that provide the more immersive experiences are a way of establishing a foothold in VR and then grow as the technology grows and the content can follow whichever direction that takes.

We also see a lot of hardware peripheral companies out there that are promoting their product to work alongside VR for mobile VR with backpacks, and I am sure they have their purpose however our focus when working with customers is about identifying an entry point to VR and helping industry to maximise on the platform itself and that is an education on behalf of the customer in itself. And so we need to steer and guide and educate as practitioners in this field.

If you want your brand or business to move with the times how to you track down the right creative technology partner?

That’s a good question because when you say the times, you mean the most up to date platforms and experiences for audiences, and the way I approach this is to look at how content can be scaled and adapted to new platforms. I believe fully immersive headsets offer a more deeper experience coupled with 3d makes for the most versatile content out there and yet so many marketers are overlooking the potential of using their 3d modelling such as Cad data because they are not aware of how to use these assets that already exist in their business to work really hard for their business.

Brands are not in the position of coming to the table and fully understanding the full opportunities available using VR so the beginning conversation needs to start with we want to achieve XYZ and then the creative studio would then engage in a degree of elaborating on top of this, to help expand the potential for the customer and the brief and help and so a degree of education on the part of the VR studio is expected here to get the brands up to speed, if at the very least to allow them to then expand themselves on what the possibilities are, I believe brands will come to the table with a good understanding of what they want to try and achieve and it’s the VR studios role to offer solutions that not just hit the mark but offers a wide range of options that exceed what is possible and then work to scale up to these with the content over time, so that the brand feels reassured that what gets delivered is futureproofed.

I think if you are looking for someone to engage with as a partner it helps to understand what added value they can give to your brand , your business, and your products, process or services. We take Cad 3D and create everything from static photoreal images to fully immersive VR and it’s like a staircase our evolution so that when our customers are ready we are able to adapt the last project we delivered from a different platform and we spend a lot of R&D time in the studio so that when platforms are emerging we have already demonstrated to our customers their content in these new areas so they gain confidence early on

I think if you approach partnerships like this you can get a studio that can work with you and your content across a range of platforms and really add value by future proofing your content.

Is VR an especially useful tool for brands who want to educate their audience?

VR is the most engaging platform for content for brands, you are allowing your audience to experience your brand in a way that is effortless. You are not just reading, seeing, listening, you are exploring and uncovering messaging  in a way that allows the user to actively engage and understand your product, process or services.

Does VR add another dimension to the concept of enterprise-wide culture?

Most definitely. VR will change the way that enterprise looks at content across the entire business because for the first time you can create content for a department that can then be used by every other division across the business.

Immersive VR allows audiences to engage with content and receive information in a way that is both unique and personal to how we learn and receive information, it’s called real-time because film which is linear means that audiences have to wait to a specific moment in time in the film to receive watch and listen to a specific message. Realtime is not bound to a timeline like film making the narrative nonlinear.

Imagine you’re watching a film that shows you how a Jet Engine works, things will happen in an order of events that builds up and goes through the different stages of air intake, compression and expansion and then there would be a voice over that talks to you about what is happening at that moment in time, you would be taking the message over the entire length of the film.

So imagine if this was in VR, for starters you would be experiencing this not just watching this, and you would be able to walk up to the Jet Engine and press actual buttons and dials and get the engine to start up and then you could walk around and see it from any angle as though you stepped inside the Television set and were actually there, I think Ronald Dahl came close to this concept with Wonka Vision in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, because you are actually there experiencing the content in context.

What are the benefits of non-linear storytelling for brands?

The benefits of nonlinear VR is that the platform is capable of delivering multiple messages that audiences can engage with at different times, and being modular makes it much easier to change the messaging for the brand without the need to create an entirely different piece of content each time you wan tto talk about something different.

Imagine a company that makes components for aircraft, currently the marketing department are charged with showing their customers what their products look like and they have to make a film that is shown at events and on their social media channel but because they make 12 product, they can either make 12 separate films or 2 to 3 films with multiple products in at different points in time, but when products get upgraded they either have to revisit the film and commission a new piece of content or create an entirely new film when there is a new product or an old one that’s not used any more.

Either way it’s expensive to create a dozen or so really well made films and even if they had the budgets how do you show 12 components in relationship to each other in context on an aircraft in a film that lasts 2 minutes, it’s just incredibly challenging to know how best to position your product and message to your audience.

In VR you could have a single application, so that your customer places on a headset and then is actually stood on the tarmac at an airport and they can see an entire plane next to them in full scale, they can simply walk around the plane and touch hotspots to each of the company’s products in real-time and learn and understand what each of these products do, the story of the product becomes more powerful when everything is all together in one place rather than dispersed across different pieces of content across different platforms and channels, continuity is lost and messages become confusing and diluted because people have to get the best out of their budgets.

In VR if you want to relaunch a new product, or product range or add new markets or sectors you work in, you simply update the application, no duplication no multiples of cost, and if you wanted to cover a number of global markets with multiple languages you have all the languages within the same application as well. It’s all there. Immersive platforms like AR, VR or Immersive apps is completely modular to swap in and out content as you want when you want with zero redundancy.

How can you tell if your audience or participant is fully engaged with the experience?

By the very nature of VR you want to make content that drives engagement, if someone is passively stood there and not doing much then you have lost your audience, and its either because they did not understand what they had to do or the content want compelling enough, I think there is a bit of a danger whereby we have actually seen VR experiences where the user simply stands there and reads a lot of text and it’s not much more than an immersive presentation and that’s a real shame because it’s like selling a colour tv on a black and white tv set, you’re not showing it off to its full. But that’s why it’s really important that industry becomes better aware of the potential by seeing purposeful content that is applicable and shows what can be done and sets the bar.

Just as important as audience engagement is capturing performance inside VR as well, so if you worked as a training manager for a company you could have your team perform scenarios in VR to teach them how to engage with products and attach to components, and then as each action is completed the data could be sent to a server and captured inside an app on a phone. This application is far ranging for so many different sectors and departments within enterprise. We have created multi-user VR that allows multiple people to be stood in VR in the same space regardless of where they are over the world, so a customer could be in the UK and the Marketing Director is in the US and giving a guided tour on an Oilrig.

 

 

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