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Roddenberry Entertainment takes VR where no one has gone before

The cast of the first 360° film, White Room: 02B3, from Roddenberry Entertainment.The cast of the first 360° film, White Room: 02B3, from Roddenberry Entertainment.
The cast of the first 360° film, White Room: 02B3, from Roddenberry Entertainment.Roddenberry Entertainment

Roddenberry Entertainment has partnered with Immersive Media to launch Roddenberry 360°, an entertainment company that creates VR content filmed with 360-degree cameras.

Trevor Roth, COO and head of development for Roddenberry Entertainment, says that although 360-degree video has been utilized for everything from tourism to marketing to music videos, White Room marks the first time this technology has been used to tell a story.

The company’s first 15-minute short, White Room: 02B3, stars Doug Jones, Breckin Meyer, and Tamlyn Tomita, and tells the story of six strangers who awaken in a white room and eventually discover that they are unwilling participants in an experiment that could change the face of humanity forever.

Roth says working on the production has laid the groundwork for future projects. In addition to creating original entertainment, Roddenberry will work with television and movie studios interested in incorporating 360-degree video into their storytelling.

Roth says video games have paved the path for 360-degree storytelling in many different ways, including getting users accustomed to experiencing open worlds from a first-person perspective and having the freedom to look in any direction. As more VR devices hit the market, Roth believes 360-degree films will tell longer, more immersive stories because audiences will become more familiar with the experience. And through experimentation, filmmakers will become better at using the new technology in pushing stories forward.

“Once we cracked the narrative code of 360-degree storytelling we realized we were able to tell a story with more information and put more power into the hands of the audience members themselves,” Roth says. “It opens up a whole new realm of possibility because viewers are immersed in the environment with the characters and they have the freedom to look around wherever they want.”

Much like Hollywood has seen with 3D filmmaking, Roth believes the key to the success of 360-degree entertainment will be in filmmakers using the technology in an intelligent and substantive manner rather than as a gimmick.

White Room: 02B3 will be available Aug. 3 on iTunes, Google Play, and the Samsung Galaxy Apps store for $2.99, and will be released for Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift in the near future.