XBIZ 2017: Spotlight on Virtual Reality Content Production & Startups – AliceX, VR Bangers
XBIZ 2017, presented by Camgasm.com, continued its NETbilling-sponsored multitrack educational program in the Andaz Rooftop Ballroom with an in-depth examination of virtual reality and how the latest trends in this emerging technology are driving the adult industry forward.
The session, entitled, “VR Porn: 2017’s State of the Art,” delivered an exclusive look at VR as top experts including HoloFilms’ Anna Lee; Fabian Grey of AliceX; NaughtyAmerica’s Ian Paul; RubyVR’s Michael Donohue; CAM4VR’s Ela Darling; Daniel Abramovich of VR Bangers; GameLink’s Jeff Dillon; and Wasteland.com’s Colin Rowntree as moderator.
Grey kicked off the discussion by stating his belief that VR camera technology will become much easier to use in 2017 and that this will help the consumer market to grow. Beyond the tools, education will also play an enormous role in speeding VR’s adoption.
“Education is critical,” Abramovich says. “We need to raise awareness of what VR is.”
Darling pointed to the rapid uptake of Sony’s breakthrough PlayStation VR entertainment and gaming console, and says that it is vital for the industry to “find ways to circumvent the mainstream distribution channels” if adult VR content is to more readily come to consumers.
“I hope that someone who is paraplegic sues these [mainstream content stores] for discrimination,” Paul says, underscoring the significant social issues that sex in the virtual realm brings to the fore.
“Adult is driving the adoption of VR, but mainstream content is lagging, hindering the growth we need,” Paul added, noting his personal observations from the recent CES event in Las Vegas, where mainstream offers were noticeably behind their adult counterparts in quantity and quality.
“It’s only when the adult industry reaches critical mass that the mainstream will explode,” Artonne says. “One barrier is that people want to try free VR, but VR isn’t free. New business models are required.”
“VR porn needs to be normalized,” Darling says. “We need to show that our content is better than people expect — it’s not just fucking on camera.”
As for the delivery mechanism of choice, Donohue says that mobile devices are the preferred platform because of their ubiquity, portability, low cost.
“Oculus is unattainable [due to its cost and technical requirements],” Donohue says. “New phones are being developed to fit VR’s needs.”
The subject of VR and connected sex toys, known as haptics, received much attention.
“Interactive sex toys will turn women into VR consumers, while VR will turn existing porn consumers into VR consumers,” Artonne explains, adding, “Women needs more content, more context.”
“We need standardized formats for integrating toys into VR,” Artonne adds. “[After that] I think that connected toys will evolve quickly.”
The issue of image latency, user nausea, and other technological hurdles arose, as did other vital factors, which will drive new business models.
“In VR, authenticity is way more important than in 2D porn,” Darling says. “You really have to convey your personality. It doesn’t have to limit the content, but the tone.”
“There is immediacy to the performance,” Anna Lee explains. “There’s a need for performers to up their game, as a lot of customers want that feeling of connection and eye contact.”
Darling also says that VR raises the bar for performers.
“In VR, you have to be damn good talent and the demands on performers are much higher,” Darling says. “The viewer has to fall in love with you in a way they hadn’t had to before.”
Grey agreed, saying, “A lot of consumers are looking for a virtual girlfriend.”
“We’re still at that stage of wanting consumers to adopt VR,” Dillon says. “It’s still a market that needs to be developed. It’s a multiyear process.”
The realities of VR content production and distribution were also in play, with Dillon saying that GameLink is giving away free cardboard viewers as a marketing tool to get customers to experience the technology.
“We want to create that ‘Ah Ha!’ experience for users,” Dillon added.
“We’re out to force-feed adoption using free, branded viewers,” Donohue says.
“People want a different level of content,” Abramovich says, pointing the way to VR’s opportunities.
“Scenes are getting longer, more creative, and with better production value,” Anna Lee explained. “People are getting very excited about ‘breaking the fourth wall.’”
On the subject of how to light a scene that offers a 360-degree view, without showing support equipment such as light stands, Grey says “we use a green screen, that while tricky to set up, provides a seamless experience.” Another hot topic was the issue of audio and the need to provide spatial cues in the virtual realm.
“Sound is extremely important in the VR space because of the inability to focus the viewer’s attention,” Paul explained.
“It also enhances the level of intimacy,” Anna Lee added. “When a girl whispers in your left ear, you want to hear it in your left ear.”
“When we talk about immersion,” Artonne says, “sound is a big part of that.”
The standing-room only audience garnered a masters-level education in today’s VR trends at this event, setting the stage for the future of adult VR development over the course of 2017, with XBIZ leading the way.
The adult industry’s premier annual conference series takes over West Hollywood’s elegant Andaz hotel from Jan. 9-13, for four action-packed days of unparalleled business opportunities, along with executive networking, in-depth insights and social events in a luxurious setting.
XBIZ 2017’s exclusive seminars and workshops offer the latest trends in every adult market segment, with an emphasis on the cutting-edge of interactive entertainment, digital media, mobile tech, and more, delivering a view toward the future while providing attendees with the knowledge and power they need to stay ahead of the curve.
The event series peaks on Thurs., Jan. 12, with the adult industry’s biggest night, the 2017 XBIZ Awards, hosted by adult film legend Ron Jeremy, in the ballroom of L.A.’s Westin Bonaventure Hotel.