The struggle is real for those born before their time. Putting on a show, the CEO of Within, as rebranded from Vrse, Chris Milk, held a presentation at TEDTalks that was published yesterday. He spoke of how he has exerted himself to create the experiential sensation he had when he listened to music as a child.
Progressing from music to music videos, to experimental projects incorporating audience input, he finally encountered VR for the first time five years ago. Milk spoke of this as he related to his childhood and the steps he’d taken to get to where he is today, as well as why he thinks it’s such an important medium.
He formed the company Vrse after that first VR experience, and since then the studio has grown into one of the most recognized VR story production studios in the world, and just last month the company adopted the name Within.
Milk says it wasn’t until he encountered VR that he felt he had encountered a medium through which he could meaningfully enhance the experience from his childhood. It embraces the experiential approach, which is why a lot of the content consumers are getting into across the various VR platforms is referred to as an experience. Milk says after encountering the medium, “I quickly started building things in this new medium, and through the process we realized something: that VR is going to play an incredibly important role in the history of mediums. In fact, it’s going to be the last one. I mean this because it’s the first medium that actually makes the jump from our internalization of an author’s expression of an experience, to our experiencing it firsthand.”
It’s a bold claim, but it’s certainly one that makes sense. Mediums are referred to as such because they are conduits that we use to communicate with one another, be it through fictional narratives or documentary stories. From that perspective, there’s hardly a better medium to communicate an experience than VR. Putting us in the front seat, it lets users take part in an experience rather than be a witness to it.
And it’s still in its infancy. Milk describes how rather than mastering film-making, for example, and experimenting afterwards, VR invites experimentation even for people who are not yet close to mastering the medium. “Contrary to popular belief there is composition in virtual reality but it’s completely different than in film where you have a rectangular frame. Composition is now where your consciousness exists and how the world moves around you.”
He ended the speech by inviting the audience members to take part in the world’s largest collective VR viewing. The video they watched showed a locomotive turning into a shower of birds as it approached the camera, urban landscapes from a helicopter perspective, and a family suffering from the consequences of war.