Noah J Nelson on Friday, Mar. 20th
It seems like it was just a two months ago that we were talking about an interesting grant program from a Venice, CA start-up designed to bring independent cinema voices into the virtual reality world.
Oh, wait. It was just two months ago. Only back then the company in question was WeMo Labs… cut to two moons later and WeMo has rebranded itself as WEVR and has now put a call out for project proposals while putting at stake (raises pinky) One Million Dollars.
This isn’t a shake-up of the previous grant offer: the deal with Seed & Spark is still in place, but the rebranding into WEVR appears to have brought a sharp new focus to the Silicon Beach company.
Out with the cat wearing goggles logo, in with a slick graphic hexagon that says “THE FUTURE IS VOXELS.” Okay, that’s just what I hear when I look at it, but I might be obsessed with the idea of voxels.
The point is that WEVR, who have long been angling to become a major distribution platform for VR experiences, are putting a large chunk of capital out for grabs. It’s also done some in-house content deals with HTC and Valve for the Vive system, and Samsung for the Gear VR, which is powered by Oculus.
The money WEVR is putting into play as part of the OnWEVR initiative comes with a few requirements, of course:
We wanted to make the OnWEVR program as simple as possible for producers: your project must be a VR experience a few minutes in length and use WEVR’s VR media player software.
That last bit is what WEVR gets out of it: the chance to become the Quicktime of VR. If you’re the creative type who wants to get playing in the space, it doesn’t take much to start down the path that will forever dominate your destiny:
All that’s required for consideration is a short written pitch, a video (either on YouTube or in a DropBox folder) explaining your VR story, and a URL for any other supporting files (videos, graphics, presentations), if applicable.
Much simpler than surrendering your will to the Dark Side of the Force, at any rate.
One thing’s that interesting about the call for proposals—unless my reading comprehension has turned totally to mush thanks to all the legalese I’ve been reading of late— is that WEVR isn’t specifying whether the projects should be pure-CGI, live cinema pieces, or interactive in any way. One gets the sense that they’re not looking at games here, but immersive cinematic experiences of both the live-action and animated varieties.
Is a million bucks enough to make WEVR a lasting platform-level player in the emerging virtual reality landscape, or is there so much money being tossed around outside of the public view by the hardware makers that this will prove out to be a small ripple in an ocean?
There’s certainly some real talent already partnering with the company, and if scrappy indie creators rise to the challenge, WEVR could wind up with good relationships with the first generation of VR cinema makers