Quest: Requesting me for Knowledge

I was recently recruited to join this company who pimps out experts in various fields for telephone conferences with corporate executives, hedge funds, and private equity clients looking to glean a bit of info and research before hedging their bets on something new and innovative. The recruiter sized up my resume and experience, and listed me as a senior expert in VR with a price-tag for a phone call at $500/hour. He said this was me undercutting the market, believe it or not.

I’ve taken quite a few phone calls with different people over the past few months who are all looking to “pick my brain” on VR. Basically I’m going to summarize the three biggest points anybody is ever really looking for in this single blog post, free of charge. Help me let you keep your five hundy and just read this following post:

1. Virtual Reality is booming. It’s skyrocketing. It’s off the fucking charts.

  • In 2016, 15 million headsets were sold. In 2022, there’s supposed to be 55 million active VR headset users in the US alone. This is more than the number of Netflix subscribers in March of 2018.
  • 200 million headsets sold this year
  • Facebook Oculus did over $100 million dollars in revenue from VR content sales as of September 2019.

2. Virtual Reality is different than Augmented Reality

  • VR = a completely immersed experience
  • You wear a headset that completely blocks out the real world and replaces it with a virtual world.
  • Sometimes the headsets feature cameras which can show the outside world to you while you have the headset on — which we will talk more about more in a little — but for the most part, VR refers to entirely closed off virtual reality.
  • AR = a blend of the real world around you with some augmented virtual attributes.
  • For example, imagine if Google Maps displayed arrows directly onto the real street in front of you while you walk. As of right now there are very few successful AR applications — rulers, protractors, google maps —  and you need to use your phone’s camera to project the images onto the live-stream image of the world around you. Picture Tony Stark’s ridiculously futuristic iPhone:

Eventually, we will have one device — glasses, contacts, ocular implants , etc — which you wear all day long and which can augment some items onto your real world, or which can completely augment your entire line of sight into a VR experience, blocking you out from the real world entirely — the decision will be yours and you can adjust the settings, turn it on or off, etc as you please throughout the day and as you search websites, load up videos, and answer text messages.

There are currently some AR headsets on the “market,” but even the most sophisticated ones like Magic Leap are a far cry from being consumer-ready yet. However, there are millions of awesome VR headsets that you can pick up today pretty inexpensively and they work great. $150 should get you an incredible VR device that will work right out of the box and that is completely wireless. If you have $400 to spend, I recommend going with the Oculus Quest — it’s a real game changer and the best resolution for any headset out there right now.

What you need to know:

  • VR = the now
  • AR = the future

One day AR + VR will be synonymous

3) The new medium has entirely new rules.

  • You can’t just expect the same people who make your content now to seamlessly transition into making equally great content for you in VR.
  • At HBO, I had to unite departments which never ordinarily worked together. This was an extremely uphill battle for a corporate entity which has been siloed off for years. I had to have senior engineers in the technology department work with VFX artists in the graphics department. These people never interact. They have completely different workflows. The VFX artists do their thing on flat screen monitors in dark, quiet studio rooms and they’ve been doing it that way for years. They’ve earned themselves Emmys doing it that way. However, now they can’t just use a flat screen monitor. They have to use headsets, which means they need to learn new software. Which means the workstations need to be upgraded. Imagine telling your boss, a corporate VP who just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading the edit bays and workstations to be state-of-the-art as of this year, only after starting that process two years ago and finally getting it all passed through the corporate cogs, “Hey, you know what? We need to upgrade all these editing suites because they can’t support our VR headsets.” That was what I had to do. Over and over again. In many cases, I had to tell her, “Hey you know those incredibly talented VFX artists who have been working at the company for thirteen years since before you even arrived here, and won us all those Emmys on your shelves? They are so used to working a specific way that they can’t do the job we need them to, so we either need to train them up real fast or we need to hire up some freelancers for this project on our plate.” It’s like I was Bob Dylan shaking a can in her face—

“Your old road is rapidly agin’.

Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’.”

All this to say that you really need a nimble and dynamic, fast-learning team who is going to adapt by the day to stay current and effectively produce quality VR content. The whole game changes — in more areas than edit suites — and I talk about that all over this website. 

Holy shit!? It’s almost like he knew. Let’s just say there’s a reason this Bob Dylan video from 1964 starts off with the word QUEST: