It's a VR world afterall

With Disney-Jaunt investment, the era of VR content is upon us

Thanks to fresh capital and some powerful new partners, cinematic VR leader Jaunt may very well begin exploring a slew of new opportunities to create virtual reality content.

It also makes Jaunt the highest-funded VR content startup (+$100 million), and the first to get a serious investment ($65 million) from a couple of the world’s most influential legacy media companies, Disney and the Madison Square Garden Company. When you combine that with the impending arrival of consumer VR headsets, Jaunt is poised to kick off a new era of VR content — one that goes well beyond video games.

Jaunt’s business is focused on what it calls “an end-to-end solution for creating cinematic VR experiences,” which in regular-people words means it simplifies the process of creating VR video and processing it into virtual environments. But as you’ve probably gathered, creating VR content is a vastly different beast compared to standard films and videos.

How, you ask? For starters, shooting VR video requires 360-degree recording to empower audiences with a key element of VR: the ability to look around and place yourself in the scene. VR content also usually requires some innovative camera technology, like Jaunt’s patent-pending camera system called “NEO” that employs a bevy of image sensors and a slew of lenses to capture the video. And finally, once you’ve captured, you need to have the recordings processed and edited using a system that’s designed specifically for VR content, which Jaunt also provides.

But none of that really matters if there isn’t compelling content for people to consume. In fact, good content is a bigger factor for the rise of VR than VR headset comfortability or consumer friendly pricing.

There are dozens of companies making VR content–from Discovery to Volvo and from Ustwo Games (the studio behind the hyper-successful mobile game Monument Valley) to Legendary Studios–but following this successful series C Jaunt seems poised to put itself at the forefront of cinematic VR. At the moment, the company’s content library offers several VR experiences that are available through the Jaunt VR viewer (which can be found in the App Store), including a climb collaboration with The North Face, a concert with Sir Paul McCartney, and a profoundly frightening VR horror experience called Black Mass.

Jaunt’s content largely centers around short experiences that place viewers in the space of the narrative, and it’s easy to imagine Jaunt jumping into Disney’s rich IP library to bring new stories, characters and spaces into the VR fold. Likewise, Disney — which has long-been involved in developing immersive experiences (like popular theme park attraction Soarin’, for example) — will almost definitely be presented with new VR opportunities for experiential tie-ins with its films and television shows. It may even open the door to theme park experiences outside of the theme parks themselves. (Because why should anyone have to wait until summer vacation to ride Space Mountain, ya know?)

Involvement from fellow Jaunt investor the Madison Square Garden Company, on the other hand, could absolutely signal the intent to continue developing VR experiences around live events, such as the concert with Paul McCartney. Working with the Madison Square Garden Company (which includes MSG, The Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, the Chicago Theatre, and others) would certainly open up opportunities to capture live events and create experiences around stage productions.

Though Jaunt is heavily involved in what it calls “cinematic VR”, it’s important to keep in mind that feature-length VR experiences are still a ways off. However, Disney and the Madison Square Garden Company’s financial vote of confidence in Jaunt speaks volumes about the future of VR content. While we aren’t going to see a VR Pixar film anytime soon, it seems entirely likely that we’ll see more VR content stemming from the resources (IP and media partnerships) of its new investors.