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Vrse CEO Chris Milk talks VR storytelling and the road to virtual reality’s Citizen Kane

TechCrunch TechCrunch 10/05/2016 Lucas Matney

“Citizen Kane does not come in year two of VR.”

Esteemed VR filmmaker/documentarian/founder/CEO Chris Milk took to the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in NY to discuss the limitations and massive items of potential for the proliferation of VR content, still in its early early early stages.

Some of the most difficult challenges in the VR filmmaking space are incredibly basic features often taken for granted in modern cinema, Milk told the audience. Underlying structures like the concept of a feature film don’t operate the same way for VR than they do on the silver screen, and those are some of the things that the creatives in the space are desperately searching for.

Right now, the best template in terms of VR film is a bit messy at the moment and involves what the Vrse CEO calls “a series of spheres that you’re sitting inside and looking around.”

The technical challenges are significant, but they don’t detract from the power of the platform to impact humanity, Milk says.

“The promise that VR can hold is that it’s the democratization of human experience,” Milk said onstage. “Much like the internet was the democratization of data.”

A stumbling block for early VR adopters is really the lack of content. Good or bad, there’s just not a lot of stuff to download on your Gear VR or Oculus Rift. Milk said that this was a major point of strain on consumers that are hyped on VR potential and are willing to drop a lot of cash.

“It’s hard to sell 50 million televisions if there’s only a week’s worth of television to watch,” said Milk.

With the pretty notable dearth of VR content, conversations surrounding VR’s lack of a “killer app” can seem a bit fruitless, but Milk says that the killer app already exists, it’s VR storytelling. The being said, Milk stresses that “the killer app for your aunt is going to be different from the killer app for your niece.”

Getting VR in the hands of your aunt and niece might be the first issue to tackle though. Like many in the space, Milk sees mobile VR as the platform with the most potential and hopes that handsets a few generations from now will be on par with current tethered systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Mobile VR will also give consumers more exposure to

“The more great experiences you’re having, the more interested you’re going to be in upgrading to the next level of immersion,” Milk told interviewer Josh Constine.

With all of the buzzwords floating around virtual reality, sometimes it can grow difficult to see the importance of the medium in terms of isolating human experiences and replicating it  for secondary visitors.

“Once you move past the spectacle and past the hype, [VR] is the medium of human experience,” Milk said.

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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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    Enter the Era of VR Storytelling with Chris Milk (Vrse), moderated by Josh Constine at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016
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