Exciting news this week from our friends at Bigscreen who have announced an amazing 50+ channels to enjoy in their virtual reality app either by yourself or with friends. For those who don’t know, Bigscreen was founded in 2014 and publicly launched in March 2016. I first tried it out using my Oculus Gear headset but the platform has grown in every single way since then!
So, what exactly is Bigscreen VR?
It is a virtual reality experience that allows you to watch TV shows, films, play games or ability to share your desktop for streaming purposes to view on their massive IMAX style cinema screens. Meaning that you are able to enjoy shows and movies with your friends and family from anywhere in the world. You can also play games together, work together or just hang out together. Making it a very cool social VR experience!
If you have never tried any social VR platforms then experiencing things like this can be a little daunting at first. However, when you first log in to Bigscreen (after registering etc) you are brought into your very own private living room. It’s big luxurious space that is welcoming with noticeable signs of bling such as your robotic hoover doing the rounds but the massive flatscreen TV on your wall is the main focal point. Obviously! In other words, as a first time user you will not be thrown in at the deep end with anybody else. It’s relaxing and quite exciting to see your new space! Once you are accustomed and ready to explore outside your living room you bring up your menu to search the options available to you.
From here you are able to browse through the various shows/movies, how many people are in each room already or you can jump through the different locations available to get even more accustomed by yourself if you wish. The choice is yours. For those who are a dab hand, perhaps scheduling your own VR screening event is something that interests you, well of course you can do that using this menu option too!
Sounds amazing but how do I do it?
Bigscreen VR can be accessed by all major virtual reality HMDs (Head Mounted Displays/Headsets) – eg Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear, Valve Index, HP Reverb, all SteamVR & Windows Mixed Reality headsets are supported.
How much does it cost?
It’s all free!!! There’s no subscription costs, no ticket prices, no upfront lump sum, nothing! Plus you are guaranteed the best seat in the house every single time! Don’t want to sit in a house? Fine, then choose the movie theatre, the campfire or even the nebula if you so wish! No, I am not kidding… you can head into outer space, in fact, multiple locations are available so chilling on Mars with a movie can be done in 2019.
What can I actually watch there though?
Great question! Streaming apps like Netflix & Twitch from your desktop is popular within Bigscreen. When I jumped in I could see the following channels available (subject to change due to user geographical location):
Featured – Lobby, 3D Trailers, Pluto Movies, Pluto Spotlight, Twitch, Overwatch League, CBS Sports, CNN, Rifftrax Commentry, Bloomberg, Shout TV and Anime.
Movies & TV – Pluto Spotlight, Pluto Movies, Pluto Movies 2, Pluto Action Movies, Classic Movies, Comet, Rifftrax Commentry, Shout TV, Pokemon, Anime All Day and Anime All Ages
Games & Sports – Bull TV, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, RIU 41, Trivia Flash, Nerdist, Twitch and Overwatch League.
News & Finance – CNN, Bloomberg, NBC, Sky News, Newsy, C/Net, Cheddar News, CBS News, Crypto TV, RT America and Weather Nation.
Random – NASA, Monstercat, Chillhop, Fail Army, Hungry, Cats, 3D Trailers, Comedy Central, Stand Up and Bigscreen 2019 Update.
Featured: 3D movies
For me the showstopper and something that was completely new to me was experiencing a Star Wars Movie Trailer in 3D whilst in virtual reality! I was sceptical because, well, I wasn’t wearing any 3D glasses (lol!) but by golly that was fun! I watched and initially thought ‘yeah, that’s ok, it’s pretty good given we are in VR’ then my eyes completely adjusted and I was like WOW, that’s the real deal! It really was in 3D whilst I’m sitting in a virtual reality IMAX theatre with other virtual avatars sitting a few rows in front of me. It was so bizarre but also so magical!! I’m not sure if it takes a few moments for eyes to adjust like mine or because I am a glasses wearer who doesn’t use the glasses spacer for Oculus Quest or whether that is something unique to me. It’s not a common thing for my eyes to take time to adjust like that, however, I watched a Star Wars movie on Netflix last year and my eyes did take time to adjust then too. So perhaps it is unique to viewing real world motion footage inside VR that my eyes can’t instantly compute. Actually, thinking about it, I can take a few moments when in a real IMAX theatre watching a 3D movie. I remember Tron taking my eyes a few minutes before they could properly focus on the large screen and the 3D effects before I became naturally immersed into that too. So, if you are short-sighted like me, you may also experience a few moments of eye adjustment… or may not….
Anyway, I was blown away by how realistic this experience was in Bigscreen. I was actually disappointed that the movie wasn’t about to start immediately afterwards! I’ve yet to watch a full feature film in Bigscreen or a full episode for that matter. Both of which are now on my ‘To Do’ list.
Social VR surprise
I was pleasantly surprised by seeing folks interacting with drawings during a show, demonstrating a level of social interaction that I didn’t expect to see at all. It looked quite heartwarming from where I was sitting that folks would play around with art/pens whilst at the movies – not something you see in a regular IMAX movie theatre anyways! I loved it.
As a fan of Social VR experiences I will be personally re-visiting Bigscreen to join more viewings. I want to observe more avatar interactions during different situations to learn more about the impact that Bigscreen VR is having on social VR too.
Hopefully I will see you there next time -)