Tony Gnau

Virtual Reality Video is Stupid and I’ll Tell You Why

By: Tony Gnau | November 21, 2016 | 
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Virtual Reality Video is Stupid

The latest craze in video is virtual reality.

As a Chicago and Milwaukee video production company owner, I have researched it, played with a lot of what’s been produced, and I have come to this highly educated conclusion.

It’s stupid.

I know… Facebook and others are sinking millions of dollars into technology to make this content possible.

There are a lot of smart people behind this movement.

The idea seems cool: Create images that allow people to feel like they’re immersed in the video.

It currently falls short.

The Reality of Virtual Reality

First, what many are calling virtual reality (or VR to the super hip) is really 360-degree video or photos.

Special cameras are used to shoot a 360-degree view, allowing viewers to manipulate the image to look up, down, and all around.

Next, there’s actual virtual reality.

This is where you strap-on a headset that completely covers your eyes.

This is truly an immersive experience.

You look up, down, and all around and you get the sense of being inside the video.

Cool, But Boring

Here is where both fall short, though.

They’re gimmicks.

About the best thing I can say about each is they can be kind of cool… but that’s it.

I’ve watched a bunch of these and I’ve never felt like I benefited from the content.

And isn’t that the point of content marketing?

With virtual reality, all you’re really doing is playing with the shiny new toy.

You look up, down, and all around… but then what?

Nothing.

In the end, all these videos are pretty much the same.

Boring.

The Biggest Failure of Virtual Reality

I’m a video producer. I love gadgets.

New gear, new software, stuff like that is fun.

But while I am a video producer, more importantly… I’m a storyteller.

My title is chief storytelling officer for crying out loud, and that’s why VR confounds me.

It doesn’t further the story.

I’m consistently cautioning my customers, if you include something in a script, if you plan a really cool shot, if you are going to add anything to the video that doesn’t enhance the story… then you should cut it.

It stinks sometimes.

I have cut a lot of really cool stuff from videos throughout my career.

I recently just cut a sound bite from a customer’s story and I’m still irritated about it.

It was an AWESOME sound bite!

But no matter how hard I tried to make it fit into the story…it just didn’t… and I had to cut it.

I don’t care how cool virtual reality is, the story is more important.

The story is what people connect with, not the technology…not gimmicks.

They might think something looks cool, but will that drive them to take action?

VR Can Be Useful

I do see a use for virtual reality.

If you want to give someone a virtual tour of, whatever, it’s a nice tool.

And, for all I know, someone creative might come-up with another use.

Right now though, it’s stupid.

Unless you’ve come-up with a way for VR to help further your story, I’d hold-off on investing the big bucks to produce that content.

image credit: pixabay

About Tony Gnau


Tony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions, a video production company specializing in PR and marketing videos.

  • Yes, it’s not about the latest shiny toy, but how it helps you build a stronger relationship with your audience. That should be on top of mind for any marketer.

    • T60 Productions

      Here, here! 🙂
      –Tony Gnau

  • T60 Productions

    I tend to agree. It’s not VR but I feel the same way about drone videos in real estate. At this point, they’re almost an expected part of the marketing at a certain price point, but they bore me – even as someone with a deep interest in both real estate and video.

    • T60 Productions

      Editing to say this is Katie, Tony’s wife (and a Realtor… hence my comment). I posted from our shared computer as T60 by accident. Tony is the technology guru around here, not me!!

      • T60 Productions

        Lesson tonight at 8:00. 🙂

  • Elise Perkins

    I know little about VR but this was refreshing – and the title made me laugh. Seems like everything else we’ve been hearing makes it sound like MarComms shops need to be preparing for this new onslaught. Phew!

    • T60 Productions

      Glad it was refreshing. No need to jump on the bandwagon just yet. 🙂
      –Tony Gnau

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