Communicating what it feels like to use VR to someone who has never done it before is one of VR’s major marketing challenges. Oculus’ new ‘Defy Reality’ ad spot for Quest effectively uses mixed reality video capture to show players in VR, instead of just showing first person footage that’s hard to understand if you haven’t actually been in a headset before.
Though Oculus’ new PC headset, Rift S, also launched today, it’s clear that the marketing effort is squarely behind Quest, their first standalone headset with 6DOF tracking. The launch of the headset has also brought a ‘Defy Reality’ ad campaign that aims to highlight VR’s ability to provide immersive (and otherwise impossible) experiences.
Oculus has made some polished ads for their VR products before, but as far as we’re aware, this new 60 second ‘Defy Reality’ ad spot is the first from the company to make use of real mixed reality capture which shows players right in the context of the game they’re playing:
It’s a huge improvement over ads that just show a first person perspective of the VR content which, to people who have never actually used VR, often looks like a somewhat more confusing version of traditional first-person game played on a TV or monitor. It’s also a huge improvement over some truly bad VR ad spots like this 2016 ad for Gear VR which had a bumbling protagonist and suggested you’d look like a goof using VR in public.
Mixed reality capture is a great way to communicate the experience of VR to people who have never used it, but it isn’t easy. It requires spatial and temporal synchronization between the virtual world and the real world, including knowing exactly where the real camera is located in space (so that the virtual camera can be precisely aligned). This has been made easier in recent years thanks to tools like LIV TV (which Oculus used in the Defy Reality ad spot).
Oculus is far from the first to use mixed reality capture for VR. Trailer maker and VFX artist Kert Gartner did some pioneering work back in 2016 with early VR games like Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator to show how compelling high quality mixed reality trailers could be.
A good VR ad, whether for Quest or some other headset, is good for the industry at large since a basic understanding of what it’s like to use a VR headset remains a challenge for taking VR mainstream.