Steven Spielberg has spoken out about the impact virtual reality stands to have on film-makers, calling the new technology a “dangerous medium” and suggesting it could weaken the control directors have over their films.
“I think we're moving into a dangerous medium with virtual reality,” the multiple Oscar-winner said during an interview to promote his latest film, The BFG. “The only reason I say it is dangerous is because it gives the viewer a lot of latitude not to take direction from the storytellers but make their own choices of where to look.”
Spielberg went on to say that VR would take off “in a profound way”, but that he hoped it wouldn't forget to tell stories “when it starts enveloping us in a world that we can see all around us and make our own choices to look at.”
There are a number of virtual reality films being shown alongside traditional movies at Cannes this year, marking a continued ascent of VR film-making into the festival arena. This year's Sundance Film festival had a dedicated VR portion on its bill, and the upcoming Sheffield Doc/Fest is to feature a number of VR films as part of its Alternate Realities strand.
Spielberg is right to question the way VR will necessitate new forms of cinematic direction, although other film directors have interpreted this as an opportunity, not a encumbrance. In an interview with The New Yorker, director Werner Herzog talked about the scope VR has to become a new artistic medium.
“I am convinced that this is not going to be an extension of cinema or 3D cinema or video games,” said Herzog. “It is something new, different, and not experienced yet.”