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IVRPA 2017: Seeking A Path Forward For Creators

Blend Media’s Chris Helm gives an overview of the recent conference focused on VR 360° photography and video.

The International Virtual Reality Photography Association (IVRPA) 2017 conference brought together over two hundred 360˚ and virtual reality (VR) content creators from across the globe for four days of keynotes, workshops and social events. Set in the city of Vienna it was also an opportunity for attendees to create some fabulous 360 content.

Content and Product were the main themes of the event. The ecosystem suffers from a multitude of friction points which means that both content and great creative needs to flourish to drive habitual and sharable usage. There is also a need for Product, such as editor tools & hardware to improve to enable both brands and consumer easier access into the marketplace.

Three recurring themes became clear throughout the event:

  1. The need for audience, monetisation and distribution solutions for creators.
  2. The vital importance of improvements to post production software and hardware to the creation process.
  3. The generous nature and importance of information sharing and education within the community.

During the four day conference set in Vienna creators of all kinds demonstrated the meticulous nature of their craft and illustrated the planning, precision and patience needed to create 360˚ content. Yet passion and dedication do not pay the bills or fund further creative projects – this fact, the need for clear paths to revenue for the creator, was touched on  on several occasions.

On Saturday I took part in a panel discussing the challenges and opportunities for monetisation. The need to educate clients on how to integrate 360˚ content into campaigns was recognised as key together with the need to avoid over-investment in a one off immersive campaign that doesn’t deliver on KPIs. Furthermore, creators need to appreciate that ‘great content’ may not satisfy all use-cases for a brand campaign & they need to remain flexible.

Another friction point for clients is the issue of scale. The current volume of headset sales does not provide the reach that brands require or expect for their campaigns. As an industry we need to provide brands with easy to implement solutions that deliver integrated 360˚ immersive experiences at scale. At Blend Media we’re working on a technology solution that can easily be used by brands, their agencies and publishers to create 360˚environments that can be published across social channels via WebVR technology. Headset adoption will increase overtime but more immersive experiences on handheld devices enabled by WebVR provide a more immediate path to revenue for creators. Solve the issue of friction and sale for brands and demand for content will increase, this in turn, will provide creators with more opportunities to monetise their content and fuel their passions.

Many of the members of the IVRPA have been creating 360˚ content for well over 20 years and could be considered as some of the founders of this now nascent industry. These founders were innovators, building their own solutions or iterating on and improving existing. With up to 75% of a creator’s time being spent in post-production, technology improvements and software tools are a vital component of the creator’s toolkit. Stitching software solution PTGUI announced some key product updates in PTGUI 11 including UX changes to increase working space and streamlining of management of source images. A key tool for creators many of these improvements were met with cheers of appreciation from the audience. Other product updates were presented by Kolor/GoPro with Autopano Video Pro 3, GoThru and hardware solutions from Theta, iZurgar and Indicam .

Finally what was clear was the importance of sharing information and learning throughout the community. In such a positive and supportive community people were not afraid to stand up and share stories about when things didn’t go to plan, lessons learnt and to acknowledge that they were still working things out. That’s what makes this industry and specifically the IVRPA community so exciting. Innovative creators are at the forefront of driving the industry forward. Key to enabling the creative process to be driven forward will be collective community learning, technology developments to improve production quality and efficiency and finally clear paths to revenue to fund the craft and drive the creative process forward.

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