Amazon Studios Gets Into Virtual Reality With New Hire

amazon studiosBy James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Amazon Studios is getting into virtual reality by making a high profile hire of Tribecca’s Genna Terranova to head development of all VR content at the studio. Can VR live up to the success of Amazon’s original programming?

“The ideal candidate will be interested in telling stories uniquely, bringing people together and expanding the definition of entertainment. They will have brilliant artistic taste, a hunger for calculated risks and they will live slightly in the future already.” – Amazon’s LinkedIn posting for a VR development executive

Amazon has been mum about the details of their decision to begin building a VR catalog, but watchers got wind of the initiative thanks to a paid of job listings on the internet. UploadVR found a listing on Glassdoor for a senior software development manager for Virtual Reality, as well as a listing on LinkedIn for “an experienced content development executive to help develop innovative mixed reality experiences for distribution on Amazon Video.” The focus for said candidate was to have experience in game production and virtual reality technology.

So how did Terranova get the gig? It comes from her tenure as the director of the Tribecca Film Festival, where she expanded the festival’s competition categories to include virtual reality and immersive story telling.

This expansion will culminate this year with the premiere of Kathryn Bigelow‘s The Protectors: Walk in the Ranger’s Shoes, her first VR film which tells the story of African rangers who’s job it is to protect endangered elephants from ivory poachers. Before her time with Tribecca, Terranova worked as VP of acquisitions for the Weinstein Company, as she followed the Weinstein brothers from Miramax.

Terranova tendered her resignation from Tribecca last November, and will be moving from New York to Los Angeles to head up the new endeavor. She will begin by licensing existing VR content and then developing original VR projects. Amazon’s original programming has been quite successful in finding that diamond in the rough for streaming video series with award winning shows, such Transparent, and the alternative history series The Man in the High Castle, so it will be interesting to see what they bring to the table with Virtual Reality.

But as many know who read doddleNEWS, I’m not on board the VR train yet, as I think the technology still has a ways to go with resolution and in the refining of tools for how to tell the story. I am still of the mind that until VR is able to drop the headsets and go with an immersive experience with four wall projection, that we’ll see it be more of a gimmick like 3D has been.

But that’s not going to stop Amazon, as well as Netflix and Hulu who have also started VR divisions to develop content and drive the technology. Lack of content has been one of the speed bumps to getting costs down and accelerating innovation. But now that studios and streaming video companies are going to be offering that in a major way, perhaps my reasons for objecting to virtual reality will fade. I don’t know, but I still think it’s a better format for gaming.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.