James Cameron: Oculus Rift is a "Yawn" and Doesn't Do Anything New

James Cameron thinks VR has game-changing potential for creators, but says Oculus Rift misses the target.

James Cameron isn't impressed by that thing on your face.

In an interview Wednesday at the WSJD Live Conference in Laguna Beach, California, Cameron mentioned that he didn't think much of Oculus Rift, saying that the virtual reality headset was “just a yawn.”

The statement contrasts with Mark Zuckerberg's recent predictions about the long-term outlook of Kickstarter-turned-tech-company Oculus VR, which Facebook recently purchased for $2 billion.  

Cameron's comments come from his background of working in virtual reality (VR) for his film projects. In the same interview, the award-winning Avatar filmmaker talked about how he uses VR in his daily work. "VR is nothing new...we work [on the Avatar franchise] in a VR environment" he said, referring to the process as "virtual production."

"We're in a synthetic reality...the actors' characters are taken in real time into that environment and I interact with their characters. In the moment that we're shooting, I'm seeing their characters in a virtual world."

Photo by Michael Bowles/REX via The GuardianReferring again to the Oculus Rift, Cameron said the product had "a good price point, a good display," but that it had little else groundbreaking to offer.

While the resulting Twitter firestorm might indicate otherwise, James Cameron doesn't seem to be anti-VR technology. It's hard to imagine that Cameron could be against any technology, seeing as he invented the aforementioned "performance capture" VR technology for Avatar and piloted a submersible to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for fun (and science). And Cameron's comments about the long-term prospects of VR in media have generally been optimistic.

Cameron on What VR Means For Creatives


During his Reddit AMA this past April, he replied to a comment saying, "I personally would be very interested to find a way to incorporate VR and a narrative filmmaking experience." He conceded that such an enterprise would be "very technically daunting and expensive," but that "it would be fun to experiment with."

Cameron noted in that same WSJD interview, "the question that has always occurred to me is, when is [virtual reality] going to be mature, when is it going to be accepted by the public at large?" He underlined that his focus was on the "interactivity with the user," and when game developers, filmmakers and others will "start authoring in VR."

So clearly the veteran filmmaker has an interest in how VR can change media production and affect how audiences experience that media. He just doesn't want something strapped to his head to get there.

Published Oct. 30th 2014
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