Virtual Reality – What to expect from your Bronze / Silver / Gold Budget

Virtual Reality – What to expect from your Bronze / Silver / Gold Budget

When it comes to budgeting for a VR experience – whether it’s destined for the online stage or your very own roadshow – it can be tricky to get a handle on the cost. What will your Virtual Reality budget get you? And what can you expect from your experience?

“What will your VR budget get you?”

To get the most out of your production partner, a handy way to approach a VR experience can be splitting the creative into a bronze, silver, gold budget. Coming up with creative ideas which fall into different cost categories can be a much more streamlined way of working, allowing you to really maximise the effectiveness of your experience. But, not every tier will be the same for everyone. For example, where one client might have a £20K, £40K and £60K tier, another could have £100K plus, just for a bronze idea. Understanding the parameters are important, if you want your production partner to come back with something, guaranteed to impress your client.

“Less budget doesn’t necessarily mean less quality”

It’s also worth noting that less budget doesn’t necessarily mean less quality for your experience and whatever your budget, we can help you get the most from it. So, to give you some handy hints on how to approach a VR budget, we’ve pulled together three hypothetical (tropical) examples of the same creative idea, scaled up across the ballpark tiers – so you can see exactly what your money gets you.

Bronze VR: Life’s a Beach

The base level tier is often the best place to start for a social media savvy experience. With this kind of budget, you’re looking at a linear 360 experience, which is ideally suited to platforms like Facebook and YouTube 360 and can be easily viewed through a Google Cardboard headset. Getting your production company involved early in the development of the idea is also a good way to help make the most of your money.

Depending on the way it’s shot or created, occasionally, you can deliver a gold execution for a bronze budget. And, you can still create the illusion of immersion, without having to make it physically interactive. For example, if you want an item to animate when your viewer looks down at it, guide them there with audio or voice. They’ll still feel like they’re in control of the experience, without the expensive cost. Depending on the budget, you can also consider elements of binaural audio, to give the illusion of being in a 3D space.

Bronze VR: Creative

We open on an idyllic, beachside retreat. You stand on golden sand, the sun streaming down and around you, the sound of waves crash against the shore. From behind you, a bartender says “Nice to see you again – here for the usual?” As he gestures at a beautifully made cocktail in front of him, the ingredients animate and tumble out of the glass, while the burnt orange sun sets over the water.

Summary: You can look around the space, taking in different elements of the beach scape but you don’t physically interact with the experience or move.

Silver VR: Life’s a Beach

Moving up a gear into the second tier, comes with more options for interactivity and movement. Whether you have a roaming camera in your piece massively impacts costs. Also, consider if having a higher definition picture for your experience would make a difference. For example, if you’re at an event, you might have the option to showcase the experience on a tethered Oculus headset for a crisper picture, with the addition of letting your viewer navigate through the experience with move controllers.

Alternatively, if you still want to create a 360 experience which is suited to social, for a silver budget, you can consider the use of gaze hotspots, which allow the viewer to interact with items by looking at them and a more immersive binaural audio to match the intricate landscape. If your VR experience needs to be longer, it might also fall into the category, depending on the complexity of the idea.

Silver VR: Creative

We open on an idyllic, beachside retreat. In the experience, you walk across the golden sand and the sound of the waves crash around you. In the distance, you hear the sound of tropical music. From behind you, a bartender says “Nice to see you again – here for the usual?” You head towards the Tiki bar and he gestures to three beautifully made cocktails in front of him. With move controllers, you select your cocktail of choice and the animated ingredients tumble out of it.

Summary: You can look around the space as the camera moves along the beach and physically interact with parts of the experience.

Gold VR: Life’s a Beach

For our final, top tier, you get the whole virtual shebang. Whether you want to utilise sensors to track your audience’s movements and mirror them in the experience, sync up motion technology or make a completely personalised story, the options are all there, depending on how its interacted with.

Whereas before, when you invested heavily in VR, only a handful of people might have seen it. Now, its value is dramatically improving. With 360 ad platforms like Omnivirt and 360 becoming ever more accessible across social, thanks to things like Google Cardboard, there are ever more channels to reach your audience on. Where gold VR previously had a tendency to feel a little more like a gamble, the modern return on investment of VR is massive. So, if you’re creating a gold experience, why not film people’s reactions to create additional content online, or offer a 360 version so it will live even longer? There’s no limit to who you can reach with gold VR.

Gold VR: Creative

We open on an idyllic, beachside retreat. As you walk around the room in real life, sensors mirror your movement as you stroll the golden sand. When you wander to the water’s edge, electric fans synced up to the experience give the feeling of a sea breeze and in binaural audio, you hear the sounds of the environment round you – bird calls, crashing waves and a distant celebration. As you walk over to a Tiki bar, the bartender says, “Nice to see you again – here for the usual?” You select your cocktail and as you do, someone hands you a drink in real life. Depending on your selection, you get a tailored conversation at the bar and a different ending.

Summary: You can walk around the space, physically interact with the experience, influence the outcome and feel things in real life.

Pebble’s Top Tips

Now that you’ve got a good grasp on tiered VR and taken a wander along a suitably sunny, virtual beach, we picked two of Pebble’s finest VR production and experiential minds, to find out their top tips for choosing a tiered VR experience, to really help you get the most out of your budget:

1. James Beveridge, Managing Director:

“Having a shopping list of must-haves you want from your experience is a great idea. Bolt ons add complexity and cost, so marking out the points which will make or break your experience and the nice-to-haves will help you make the most of your budget. Your production partner can also help advise on what elements of the list will have the most impact.”

2. Sarah Inge, Producer:

“It’s important to work out what you want to achieve from your experience. For example, if your end goal is wanting to sell a holiday, your hotel room needs to look beautiful, the scenery needs to be perfect. But, if you want it to be more of a narrative, emotive experience, it might be more important to get the actors right and choose a Director with specific 360 experience. Ask yourself, ‘Does it actually benefit my viewer to have this experience in VR?’”

So there you go! If you’re looking to create a VR experience, consider taking the tiered approach to really make the most out of your budget and, if you’re looking for a few extra tips on how to handle objections from clients when it comes to VR, download our free guide. 

Pebble Studios
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