As we’ve seen the use of virtual reality (VR) for cinema is beginning to gain momentum. Directors are lining up to declare interest and get involved, the most recent being Steven Spielberg. Independent filmmakers are looking to create new experiences, big studios like DreamWorks are creating apps to promote their films, VR cameras designed for filmmaking are now being produced, whilst both Samsung and Oculus have made cinematic partnerships – and their own film division in the Oculus’ case. However whilst there’s been a growing push on the big screen with the exception of partnerships for sport such as those orchestrated by companies like OTOY, the small screen has (so far) been somewhat ignored.
Now however it looks as though we have our first player in making VR elements within a television series, and it comes from a surprisingly appropriate source.
A new television series, as revealed by Variety, is being developed by Jonathan Betuel based upon eighties sci-fi fantasy movie The Last Starfighter (written by Betuel) that will feature VR aspects. Entitled The Starfighter Chronicles, it was revealed that users of head-mounted displays (HMD) watching the show will be able to see more aspects of the world around them.
The original Starfighter story was that of a young American man named Alex Rogan who, growing up on a trailer park in the middle of nowhere, feels like his life is leaving him behind. With any and all routes of escape seemingly being closed to him he finds out that the Starfighter arcade machine he’s been pumping quarters into is in fact a test to find and recruit the greatest fighter pilots in the galaxy. The film then follows Alex as he’s thrown in at the deep-end as his favourite videogame suddenly becomes a very real life and death struggle. The TV series is believed to focus more on the story of the Starfighter Command as an organisation of galactic law enforcement.
A notable feature of the pilot’s targeting system in the original film is that it is able to track a target in all directions – the targeting chair moving in 360 degrees, which could suggest a potential example of how VR might be used.
The original film, released in 1984 along with 1982’s TRON helped to popularise the use of computer generated imagery and as a result is one of the first film experiences to use extensive use of fully CGI shots and set-pieces. It’s oddly appropriate then that The Last Starfighter, reborn as a television series, may help once again set standards and push the boundaries.
VRFocus will bring you any further news in relation to this new series as it develops.