How big a part will VR play in social entertainment?

Last week’s freezing rain didn’t deter some 50 enthusiasts from a Jan. 11 gathering at Chicago Studio City’s (CSC) Stage One to hear an informed discussion about applications of fast-rising virtual reality (VR) in business, health care and social entertainment videos.

“We consider virtual reality the next evolution of social entertainment,” says John Robb, of Dark Catt Studios, with offices at CSC, and one of the speakers at the Jan. 11 discussion about the latest VR headsets, software, media and games from Chicago-based companies.

What began as a casual conversation about VR last summer among August Wasilowski, a senior software engineer at InContext Solutions, Elina Vanyukhina from The Creative Group and Daniel Allen, founder/CD of Block Interval, evolved into Chi-VR, a series of discussions with VR/tech industry thought leaders and now attracting audiences as high as 100 technology fans.

“Our Chi-VR members are advertising and media professionals, software engineers, video production groups, artists and creatives who even came from Wisconsin for the meeting,” says Wasilowski.

He was and one of the panelists, along with Allen, and John Robb of Dark Catt Studios, with offices at CSC.

“The process of stitching together multiple shots to create an immersive experience is similar to that of editing a film or video,” says Robb. “Right now, some in the film industry don’t see the connection between the two, but we think this will change quickly.”

He believes that in a very short time US consumers will be experiencing films through the virtual reality lens. By 2020, virtual reality is expected to become a $159.8 billion industry.

Dark Catt, currently producing a feature, “American Samosa,” described as a story about two unusual friends and their adventure of a lifetime, is also working with the Chicago Public Schools in developing a unique way to educate today’s students on various topics. And yes, they’ll be using virtual reality as a teaching tool. According to Robb, Dark Catt wants to be a Chicago pioneer in integrating virtual reality and video in education.

The Chi-VR Meet-up at CSC was sponsored by Dark Catt, the Pony Brewing Company, which provided attendees with a vast variety of beers and ACZS Technology, a marketing company specializing in technology.