Whenever I watch a VR video, I always ask myself--why is this VR and not traditional video?
On paper, the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special VR experience sounds pretty boring--a static 360-degree camera mounted in front of center stage as Jerry Seinfeld delivers the show's intro monologue. I mean, why? 'Pointless' was my first reaction, until I actually tried it out.
I watched the SNL VR experience on VRSE's iPhone app, using Google Cardboard and headphones, and I experienced for the first time what it was like to sit in a live studio audience. I was thrilled. I found myself more interested in watching the A-listers in the audience instead of the show.
I suddenly remembered a time I watched a Filipino film at the Toronto International Film Festival where I stared at the back of actress Alessandra De Rossi's beautiful head more than the giant screen in front of us.
In the case of the SNL VR experience, I stared at Leonardo Dicaprio and Eddie Murphy in the front row. Neither of them ever clapped or smiled, as if unimpressed by the show. On the other hand, Adam Sandler was literally sitting on the edge of his seat like a little kid, laughing and applauding at every joke.
I began to wonder, would Chris Pine let that single tear trickle down his cheek unwiped at the 2015 Oscars if he didn't know that a camera was on him?
And that's when I understood the point of using a 360-degree camera shooting constantly in every direction throughout a live event. There is no spotlight, there is no camera one, and there is no behind-the-scenes. Everything becomes candid. Everything becomes both staged and un-staged.
I look forward to watching more live events in VR in the near future. As a big sports fan, I especially can't wait to see a courtside NBA game in VR--not just for the game anymore, but for the cheerleaders, Kent Bazemore's bench celebrations, and Drake lint-rolling in the front row.