PATTERN5 pal and fellow Linden Lab alum Reuben Steiger notes the emergence of a new trend in VR use cases: Filmmaking. Specifically, as he puts it, "where the inhabitable world is a leftover byproduct of production". Much of the live action version of The Lion King, for instance, will not be shot in Africa, but in a VR-based recreation of it:
“We are going to use a lot of virtual-reality tools so it feels akin to what you are looking at [if you were on a real set],” [Lion King VFX supervisor Rob] Legato said during a keynote talk at the NAB Show back in April. “You can walk around the set like a cameraman. [Wearing VR headsets,] the actors can now walk into a scene and see the other actors and trees … and because you are in 3D, you get a realistic sense [of the environment].”
Even more exciting than that to me is the project pushed forward by Neill Blomkamp, director of the modern sci-fi classic District 9 (above) and other FX-driven films -- a Unity-powered world that's actually a soundstage for an upcoming movie, which will use assets that other filmmakers can use, often for free:
"Right now at Oats [studio] we are working on a 12 minute 'film' that is done entirely within UNITY as a real time renderer. We are essentially doing a cinematic film in a very high end video game engine. this will be rendered out in traditional youtube film fashion, and views will watch like normal," Blomkamp wrote. "BUT because it's ENTIRELY real time, like a game cinematic we have the ability to place a viewer IN the film with Vive, or VR headset and experience it in true real immersive 3d. (not 360 deg global camera, with footage mapped onto the inside of a sphere, which makes me want to kill myself.)"
Elsewhere in the Reddit thread Blomkamp talks up his previously-stated plan to make the assets Oats produces available for both licensed use in commercial products and free non-commercial use, a proposal that may be of interest to game makers down the road.
Basically we're reaching a point where Hollywood-level movies are more or less high end machinimas, and the characters in them are avatars controlled by actors moving through VR worlds while wearing motion capture suits. (Thank you Andy Serkis for showing this would be possible.)