Samsung’s reveal of the Gear VR brought with a number of unusual experiences. Videogames? Sure. Interactive motion-picture? Certainly. Stereoscopic 3D video viewers? That’s surely a given. But promotional tools using the device for new ways to watch trailers? That’s a less than obvious design decision.
And yet here we are with Dreamworks: 20 Years of Dreams and Laughter. Anyone seeing that title would surely be right to get excited. Dreamworks, after all, are renowned for making some of the highest quality animation motion-picture releases of modern times. Their latest, Penguins of Madagascar is the subject matter for this initial toe-dip into virtual reality (VR), but it may not be what quite what you are expecting. Eschewing the high quality virtual theatre of Oculus Cinema (as seen in IMAX: Admit One) and refusing to offer any interactivity, Dreamworks: 20 Years of Dreams and Laughter is simply a video viewer that plays the trailer for the motion-picture in stereoscopic 3D.
The framing of the trailer is wonderful. Four animated penguins (the characters from the film, of course) move and look at you while you watch the high-quality trailer, which plays in the doorway to a bouncy castle which itself features in the trailer. The release date of Penguins of Madagascar is advertised on floor-level billboards to each side, necessitating a pan of the head to view, and a full turn will simply show endless desert stretching off to meet the bright blue sky on the horizon.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Dreamworks: 20 Years of Dreams and Laughter is a rather misleading title and that this experience was somewhat of a let down. But it does exude quality throughout. It’s also suggestive that something greater may come of it: a portal to which Dreamworks trailers and perhaps, in time, feature films also. It may not be the most inspiring of VR software titles, then, but it’s surely a sign that large institutions are taking note. And this can only mean good things for the future of VR.