How do you make a Virtual Reality (VR) Movie? I’m sure you’ve tested out a VR headset, whether it be a game or a short film, and thought, “Wow, this is pretty cool! But how do they do it?" How do they make it so realistic, how do they place you inside the game or the film? What goes into making a VR movie?

“The biggest challenge of making a VR movie is that you never quite know where the audience is going to be focusing their attention," said Hue Henry, a virtual reality professor at the University of Advancing Technology. In traditional filmmaking, one can generally assume that the audience is going to be looking where you point the camera, but in virtual reality, the audience could be looking above, below or even in the opposite direction of the elements you want them to see. "That's why it was important that we develop a system that takes user gaze into account when deciding what direction to take the story,” Hue said.

As a film student myself, I understand this conundrum. It is easy to focus the audience’s attention to what you want when you're pointing the camera in a specific direction, but when it comes to VR, the viewer can look anywhere they want. Realistically, the viewer is looking all over once they start watching the video. When you put a VR headset on what do you do? You turn around and look around all over, right? Exactly, I do it too. So Hue has a great point.

According to the digital hub ThinkMobiles, Making a 3D graphic VR film has multiple forms elements:

  • Computer animation
  • 3D Modeling
  • Visual Effects
  • Product Design
  • Graphic Motion Design
  • Visualization for architecture, engineering, etc.
  • Stereoscopic 3D effects

The ideal set of equipment you need to make a VR movie includes: Unity3D, a VR headset, a 360 degree camera and Google VR SDK.

To start, ideally you need to know, or know someone who knows, how to use the equipment. Hire someone to help you in Unity and operate the other equipment to get the best results. Also, you can figure out how to use the equipment if you don’t have anyone to help by watching YouTube tutorials and trying different things.

Are you a game developer interested in VR movie making? "One thing that surprised me about my experience making a VR movie is just how similar digital filmmaking and video game development can be. As technology advances, these two fields are steadily growing closer together and beginning to share technologies and areas of expertise," Hue said. This opens new doors for tech-savvy experts in either field.

So, when thinking of making a VR movie there are steps and equipment you need to see this out. If you’re going into this process blindly, I’d do a lot of research and recruit people with knowledge on VR movie making. Good luck on your VR movie making process and have fun!

Want to make VR movies with us? Check out our Bachelor of Science in Virtual Reality.