In 2019 we can safely say that VR capture equipment is nothing new. Even a few years ago high-end VR capture devices were being unveiled, and since then the tech has only advanced. Just as virtual reality devices themselves are getting better, so too are our means of generating some of the most realistic content that can be viewed through them.
Even with the progress in this particular subset of the VR industry, however, it’s difficult to say that there is really any bustling or regular business surrounding the capturing of imagery from real places. We see that the equipment is available for those who would like to explore what is effectively a new form of photography, and we see some stunning examples from time to time. However, it’s not entirely clear where VR image capture can translate into a necessity or a job market for photographers.
There are, however, some areas to keep an eye on in this respect.
VR travel apps are taking off, to the point that travel – in a broad sense – may ultimately comprise one of the bigger industries relating to the technology. There are already numerous apps that serve the purpose, in various ways, of helping VR users to immerse themselves in foreign environments through the magnificent capabilities of high-end headsets. It’s actually quite impressive how much material is already available through these apps, some of which use existing images from services like Google Earth. However, image capture in a popular destination city (or really any major destination for that matter) isn’t a bad thing to look into if you’re interested in the business side of this exciting new type of photography.
This is a different sort of idea, but sports are also taking off as opportunities for VR applications – specifically relating to live viewership. In other words, it’s not so much about capturing live images of arenas and stadiums (though virtual tours in VR are certainly appealing to plenty of fans), as it is about capturing live, 360-degree footage. This may ultimately be less of an opportunity for VR photographers and more of a highly digitized business run by the arenas themselves, but it’s still an area to keep an eye on.
In terms of the question between live footage and still image capture for VR use, casinos fall somewhere in between, but are still undoubtedly poised for big business. Digital casinos are famously adaptive, and use every trick in the book to attract and hang onto players. Currently, that means they rely on bonus structures, they constantly add new games, and they simulate experiences as realistically as they can. VR is the next frontier, and while it will in some cases simply involve animated, VR casinos, it will also rope in real casinos, famous poker rooms and the like, such that people can play digital games in real places. There will be a lot of image capture that goes into establishing these environments.
Roads and Trails
There may not be as much concrete business in this area, but in a way there may also be more opportunity here than anywhere else. VR, in addition to being used for travel and recreational experiences, is also already proving useful for exercise – with one of the prevailing early experiences being VR cycling. Using home exercise bikes, people are tapping into rigged up VR/Google Earth apps in order to feel as if they’re pedaling along roads and trails all over the planet. Naturally though, there is always a new road or trail to discover. For adventurous photographers who don’t mind taking image capture techniques mobile, this too makes for an interesting area.
Museums and Similar Attractions
This category actually fits into the travel destination above. Just to speak briefly to it in a more specific way though, there is certainly a market to be had for touring individual attractions and destinations within cities. Museum tours in VR are already becoming somewhat popular, and branching out there is virtually no end to the attractions that can be enjoyed similarly. Image capture practices in this regard – as with casinos, in fact – may ultimately depend on rights and permission. It’s still going to be a busy space though.
Guest post by Sean Dean
Sean Dean writes about topics relating to new and emerging technologies. He has contributed to numerous blogs and websites and is in the process of developing his own site aimed at dissecting all of the VR applications that don’t get coverage elsewhere.