The Future of VR: An Interview with Miles Perkins
After raving so heavily about them in the past, we’re here with the voice of Jaunt VR himself, Miles Perkins. We found ourselves lucky enough to talk with one of the key figures of the industry who gave us a guide of how to get into this industry, where it’s going and what would be the best outcome for us new pioneers starting our 360-degree journey.
Mellow: Welcome. Thanks for the time. I guess we should start with a bit of background with you and who you are?
Miles Perkins: Background? Okay. My name is Miles Perkins. I’m the Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Jaunt. My background starts in the film industry back in 1991. I started with Skywalker Sound. I pretty much stayed at Lucas Film Company for 23 years. I went from UCLA to corporate communications and ran it with ILM and ran corporate communications Lucasfilm through the Disney Acquisition. And I love Disney. It’s a fantastic workshop. But, I had been with this company [ILM] since it was more of a “Mom & Pop” shop. But, I was at a point in my career where I had to say “if I’m going to work for a new company, why not see what’s it’s really all about out there?” So, I decided to check out Silicon Valley and check out what it’s all about out there. Took a little bit of time off. So, I found a friend who lead me to Jaunt. And the interesting thing for me is that I’ve always been pretty in tune with technology and everything going on out there.
So, virtual reality: I’ve been kinda tracking that since the early ’90s. Where Jeron had come to ILM that had an SGI 46-or something like that. It was a $30K machine. It probably couldn’t handle our email now..(laughter)
Mellow: What year was this?
Miles Perkins: It was probably around ’93 – ’94? And it was much more of an academic thing. So, kinda fast forward to present day where the [Oculus Rift] DK2‘s came around and it’s still more of a tethered thing that requires a high-powered PC…
But, then suddenly my buddy comes around says “Dude. Check out the [Google] Cardboard.” And it was a Paul McCartney video in 360-degrees and it absolutely floored me. And part of that was because I just didn’t see it coming. I usually am able to keep track of where technology is but, that one at that level took me by surprise. It made me take a step back.
Mellow: Like this is what the future is?
Miles Perkins: It made me realize there’s something there. I don’t quite know what there is. But, there is a there. So, I wound up joining the company in April of 2015 and have had a heck of a ride since.
Mellow: From what we’ve seen and everything we’ve been following at VRLA, in a lot of perspectives, Jaunt VR seems to be the “belle of the ball” here and even has been referenced as the “Netflix of VR.” With that said, how do you all plan to expand further with Jaunt Publishing?
Miles Perkins: First, let me say Jaunt Publishing is here and launched [on August 4th, 2016]. Second, I want to say that I really do admire the founders. So often you want to rush things to market, but you really have to pay attention to who you are. So, the reason why we developed the Jaunt One was because no other camera for this exists. And we knew we couldn’t go out there and just license content because it didn’t exist. So, we knew we had to create a camera. But, the second part of that was that we had to create a pipeline. It’s simple visual effects. Relatively simple visual effects.
Look, I come from a visual effects background. It’s simple effects (relatively simple). There are some things that are very hard in terms of computational photography and create a right eye and left eye and know where an object is in z-space… Again, it’s a known problem, so we knew it had to be solved. And we needed to scale-up and make sure it wasn’t a manual process. So, one of the first things that happened was we knew we needed a camera.
We put it into production back in November of 2015. So, instead of taking this camera into market, we decided it needed to exist in the field so people could see how this works. And we had learned a lot by putting this camera out there into the hands of content creators. And simultaneously, we put our Jaunt Cloud Services out there and available for people to take their videos and immediately load it for their footage to be automatically stitched. And we made these services available for both the Jaunt One and Ozo.
And really, the decision was to do it with Radiant Images to dip our toe in the water, have some control, still be a start-up, still have the resources and not having to drink from a fire hose of so many people coming at you with different problems. After that, we started to reach out to some of the more independent VR creators and said “Hey, what do you think about publishing?” and they contributed and “kicked the tires” and let us know what worked and what didn’t. Some of the things we felt were very very important were Deep Linking, which could automatically take you to the content you have no matter what platform you’re using. It would convert it to what you need.
Mellow: That’s honestly my favorite new feature.
Miles Perkins: Thanks. It’s really big. So, we’ve just rolled out the Jaunt Publishing platform. So, we’ve all of this released, now there’s a technical barrier to entry. Because, you know, there’s still a cost associated with everything. But, we’re trying to have people to not focus on that or the difficulty of creating everything. We just want them to have the opportunity to create great new content and quality storytelling. So, we’re going to continue to see what happens for the next few weeks and see what we can roll out to support it for the next few weeks. Like the Hot Spots.
Now, you mention the “Netflix of VR” and it’s more of a simplification of what it really is. It’s also cable, in a way. Because you’re your own brand. And I’m not saying a brand that makes Pepsi or Coca-Cola.. We want to make sure that you’re a prolific creator of your own content (prolific meaning more than one). Your viewers get dropped directly in your world and get to experience it. And those viewers can also drop out whenever they want and experience other worlds through our app.
I had an experience that was hilarious. We did this experience that we actually have at a Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. They have this tour that’s going across the nation involving trailers that actually unfold like a Transformer into an IMAX theater. So, while we’re doing a dry run with family members, there’s this sweet lady we set up with a headset. And I asked what she saw and she said something that didn’t quite make sense. So, she’s continuing to make these strange “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.” Now, most people in VR tend to sit still and look straight ahead. Because that’s simply how we’re conditioned our whole lives. So, I sometimes will grab their chair and spin them around to see how they react and for them to take in the full experience. So, I do this with her and she immediately gave a panicked yelp. It turns out she dropped out of the experience we set up, went into the Oculus app and selected a video where the floor falls out from under you. And it turns out I spun the chair immediately when that event happened. She actually took her headset off and loved it even more. Again, that ability to take somewhere there is so essential.
Mellow: (laughs) That’s amazing. I think going back to something we touched on a bit earlier: I know one thing on our side that we love so much is that this is really an indie industry that we exist in right now. So, how do you find ways to either promote that or either help inspire new content creators into walking into the industry.
Miles Perkins: That’s a good question. Because I’m of two-sides: I do come from a film background working in large studios. And I do understand that there’s an industry that needs to be built around it and indie filmmakers believe there’s this “evil corporation” mentality. And there are some evil things about it for sure, but there’s also things that are necessary. And I’m sure you’ve seen that I have dual-life as a musician. So, I understand the creative side and wanting their own content.
And not only is this a huge opportunity to own your own content and even own their own network of content coming in. It’s like: Me going on Facebook or Twitter, it’s not about how many views or likes I get. It’s about how many of those people are coming back.
Mellow: It’s about getting returns.
Miles Perkins: It’s not even about the return. It’s about [content creators] controlling their own pipeline. They own that spigot. Own those relationships with those people. “These are my people. Do you want to talk to them? Well, this is how we engage financially.” That’s huge for an independent film community. I mean, look at Napster, which caused pirating. And then there’s the Apple Store that started when realizing there’s a large audience willing to pay. And this started people to shift to saying “I don’t care about a record deal. I want my own publishing. I have my own fans that will actually pay me. And they’re loyally. And these people will follow my work for the Rest. Of. My. Life.” That’s a smart play.
So, what that means for us: We really want to put these tools into people’s hands. I firmly believe that tools that you have at your disposal as an indie director is off-the-charts. So, if you know your angles, edits, cuts, compositions(etc.), you have the tools to expand the vocabulary of that story in amazing ways. So, to take all of that away to say “Nope. There’s no shot. You’re head is just there.” That’s a tough pill for a traditional director to swallow. But, my argument is that we will see those indie filmmakers who are able to see outside of that box and try new things and make the most amazing product that anybody could see. And they’re going to continue to make a new vocabulary while we continue to add more tools to expand on their storytelling.
Mellow: For the next three years ahead, what are you hoping for? Not just with Jaunt, but with the industry itself. So many people ask “What about monetization?” And the way Jaunt has gone about it is in a very pro-indie stance. With that said, what would you like to see going forward?
Miles Perkins: I’d like to see under served stories. People take their own stories. I don’t think we quite grasp the opportunity that is here. (pauses)….. Those under served stories. Those under served audiences. I’d like to see a door open for them to find their place in all of this.
Mellow: I know exactly what you mean. And that’s particularly what FanBros.com is always focused on building for our audiences. Sir, I want to thank you so much for taking the time.
Miles Perkins: Absolutely. And thank you.
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