The final installment of the Hunger Games movie franchise arrives in theaters this weekend and fans are hyped on everything Hunger Games ahead of the November 20th worldwide launch of Mockingjay – Part 2.
Whether it’s a new production still image or an interview with a cast member, Hunger Games fans are a passionate bunch and easily excite. But this month, fans probably weren’t expecting an entirely new type of experience from the franchise — their first introduction to virtual reality.
And boy were they ever excited.
Made in collaboration with Samsung, Lionsgate, and animation studio Reel FX, fans around the world got their fist taste of virtual reality on YouTube with the latest 360 video uploaded to the Hunger Games channel (below).
Fans were commenting on the video and saying things like, “this was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life” or “OmG this is amazing” and just “I can’t”. They even came up with new slang for Google Cardboard, referring to it as “my virtual reality box.”
They were really excited and many viewers “teared up”. Although they may just be hardcore Hunger Games fans and would cry at anything, let’s just believe for a second that they are crying because virtual reality – the ultimate Katniss empathy machine.
But no seriously, it would appear to be a hit with their core fans, introducing virtual reality and 360 video to an entirely new segment of consumers.
For many Hunger Games fans, the VR experience was an emotional one as the series comes to an end. The 360-degree video explores key moments throughout Katniss’ journey, across all four films in the series. The experience originally launched on Samsung Gear VR headsets on the Milk VR Platform, but now that it is on YouTube, which also supports VR viewers like Google Cardboard, many more fans can enjoy the immersive districts of Hunger Games.
The experience employed over 25 Reel FX VR artists and technologists across many disciplines to craft an experience that felt like a “mini-film” rather than a game, featuring complex transitions, detailed environments, and characters that fans could REALLY get excited about.
Reel FX used a mix of VFX assets, some CG film assets, as well as custom assets built from scratch for the creation of the six-minute VR experience. The company is responsible for a number of other VR projects we have scouted in the past including VR Maria Sharapova, the Insurgent experience, the Warcraft Skies of Azeroth, GE 360, and the US Air Force.
This month is turning out to be quite a shining moment for introducing virtual reality to more mainstream audiences. In addition to the Hunger Games VR experience, the New York Times also went all in with virtual reality. The Times included a Google Cardboard viewer with Sunday newspaper deliveries and launched their own dedicated virtual reality app last weekend, opening the eyes of millions of people to the future of storytelling in virtual reality.
Although Will Smith posted today how much he hates it when 360 video is called virtual reality, and we tend to agree with him, these experiences are a first taste for many consumers to virtual reality and from the looks of things, they are OmG excited for the future.
The Los Angeles movie premiere of Hunger Games Mockingjay – Part 2 for tonight has been scaled back in light of the recent events in Paris, with Lionsgate deciding to modify the red carpet event and not conduct any interviews.