VR headsets are quickly becoming the focus of giant tech companies like Samsung and Google. Largely considered as the tech of the future, there are many applications of VR and one of it is watching movies. This modern technology is revolutionizing the cinema and television industry. For many folks, watching movies at home or while traveling is more of a passive activity. You probably let movies play in the background while you read a book, check social media, eat dinner or attend to other chores. With smartphones and other external distractions, watching a movie is no longer the dedicated, sit-down immersive experience it used to be some years ago. That’s why we’re asked to put our phones away at the theater.
Thanks to VR technology, watching movies in a head-mounted display is an expansive and pleasant experience. Most people used to associate VR with playing games, but times have changed and more people are starting to get comfortable with the idea that they can watch movies with a VR headset.
Most screening options for movies were in beta, but things have started to look good. We will highlight a few methods you can use to watch a movie on your VR headset. If you’re a movie buff who wants to be part of your favorite movie, here’s how to watch it in VR.
Is Watching Movies In VR Really Worth It?
If you find yourself asking this question, then you probably know the answer. See it this way, watching movies with VR is kind of like getting into a time machine and going way back to the first time you sat in front of a screen to watch a movie.
If having an in-house theater seems like a far-fetched dream, then you should consider getting yourself a VR headset. Whether your movie is in 2D, 3D or a full 360-degree VR production, you will love the available customization options and visuals of watching in VR.
Types of Videos for VR Headsets
Regular 2D Videos – just the same way you watch 2D videos on your laptop monitor, you can watch the videos on your VR headset. They can include YouTube videos, Blu-ray and DVD movies with no special VR features.
3D Videos – 3D videos are more immersive than 2D videos, and they will give you the complete theater experience. The only downside is that there are only selected cinematic blockbusters available in 3D. But more 3D videos are being released every month.
180/360 Degree Videos – these type of videos are most common on sites like Facebook and YouTube. They allow you to change the video’s point of view thanks to the on-screen controls. A VR headset allows you to turn your head and look around your surroundings.
Full VR Videos – Full VR lets you look around a 3D-rendered environment. They combine 180/360 degrees with 3D to provide an immersive experience. Just like 3D, only a handful are available, but things are set to change soon with more media companies striving to make full-length, full VR movies available.
Use A Streaming App To Watch Movies
To get the most out of your VR experience, you will want apps specially designed with features that will let you take advantage of this breathtaking technology. An app lets you customize your screen size, change the distance of the screen in front of you and change the background color of the screen. There are various apps that allow you to mirror your desktop within the headset if you plan to use the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Virtual Desktop and BigScreen Beta are two of the most popular apps right now.
BigScreen Beta app will let you watch a movie by yourself or with your friends in a virtual theater. See it as the old-fashioned movie night with your buddies. Only one of you needs to have a copy of the movie, pretty convenient right? You can share the screen with your pals in 1080p resolution at 30 fps. Another app that lets you watch VR movies with up to 3 long-distance friends is Plex VR. You can sit in a virtual living room, each of you with their own Google Daydream headsets and watch movies together regardless of your geographical location.
To watch movies from these two apps, simply stream a movie from Netflix or Hulu, play a downloaded or put in a DVD on your PC. What this basically means is that you can watch anything you’d usually watch on your desktop monitor.
If you’re using Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream, you will love the extra options for watching VR movies. You can use the built-in Video Apps, Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go. You can additionally watch movies by manually adding downloaded videos from your PC to your phone’s storage. Do some research in the Google Play Store and keep in mind that these streaming video services require subscriptions after the expiry of trial periods.
PlayStation VR has the most options when it comes to watching movies in VR. This can be mainly attributed to its cinematic mode that lets you watch movies from various streaming services. You can alternatively play a movie via the PlayStation Store or watch a movie that you own on a disc.
Whirlygig is a newcomer app in the VR world that lets you play full VR videos with a 360-degree rotating display that is rendered in 3D. It works perfectly with the Oculus Rift. You can use the old free version or better pay $4 for the Steam version. The paid version has premium features and gets regular updates.
There is an interesting app on Google PlayStore Called Irusu VR Cinema player that lets you pick a seat just like in a movie theatre to give you a complete theater feel. It allows you to play normal, 3D and 360-degrees videos.
Tips for a great VR movie experience
- Watching movies in VR need a bit of dedication as VR is very immersive and isolates you from your surroundings. If you have a short attention span, watching movies in VR may not be the best thing for you.
- Invest in a good pair of high-quality headphones. Watching a movie in VR is more like a theater, so you will want to have theater sound. For the best sound, we recommend over-ear headphones. If you are watching in bed, you can try earbuds for a comfortable experience.
- No matter how interesting a movie is, don’t watch it continuously for extended periods. Give your eyes a break after say every 30 minutes. Maybe your kitchen has caught fire and needs your attention.
- Ensure your headset is fit properly for a comfortable experience. Since you will have it strapped for a while, spare a minute or two to fit it comfortably.
- If you experience motion sickness, close your eyes or get rid of the VR headset and take a breather. Action and thriller movies, for instance, can be overwhelming.
- You can wear glasses over many VR headsets, but before you invest in a headset go for a model designed for glasses to avoid disappointments.
With VR, you will avoid those distracting texts and get an immersive experience with booming audios and high-definition visuals taking up your entire frame of vision. And you won’t need to get yourself an expensive home theater to get this pleasant experience.