Virtual reality cinemas are a great way to let people experience this wonderful medium. It’s easy, fun and can be done with groups of friends or colleagues.  This makes it a great business opportunity for the virtual entrepreneur.

How to get started with a virtual reality cinema

However, setting up and managing a VR Cinema can be a daunting task. In this post we’ll cover the things you need to know. From the hard-and software and space needed, to the content and costs.  After reading you’ll have all the necessary information to start your own VR cinema.

What sort of space do I need for a VR cinema?

Most VR cinemas charge per seat or per experience.  This means the room need to fit enough seats to generate a certain amount of revenue. Since a VR cinema experience mostly takes place while being  seated you will need chairs which can swivel around. In our experience a 2 x 2 meters is enough for one seat. With this metric you can easily determine your ideal room related to your revenue goal.

Secondly think about the aesthetics of the room.  While most of the visitors will remember the virtual experience it will help to have a decent looking room to get them in the mood. Use movie posters and some dim lightning to create the right atmosphere.  Lastly think about location, accessibility and if you can easily expand your business if it becomes successful.

What hardware (VR headset) do I need for a VR Cinema?

There are two things essential to running a VR cinema. The first is of course the VR headset you will be using. Our weapon of choice for 360 video content is the Oculus GO. It has a great screen, long battery life and can be worn with  comfort for at least 20 minutes. It’s also pretty affordable at 220 euros.

The second thing you’ll need is a way to manage and play the content. A laptop will do but it will be a chore to manage each device individually. We advise using a content manage and playback system like our own VR Sync.  While VR Sync is software solution at heart we also offer a so called VR Sync box. With this box you don’t need an internet connection to manage content and start synchronized playback to an unlimited amount of VR devices.

What software do I need for A VR Cinema?

As mentioned you will need a easy way to manage and play your content. While most VR devices have a build in video player you would have to guide user through the process of manually starting a video. Which is undo able.

You need an easy way to manage content and start playback to each visitor of your VR Cinema.   For this purpose we’ve developed VR Sync.  You can manage your content in the cloud, push it automatically to your devices and start synced playback with the push of a button.  

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Where can I get 360 video for VR Cinema?

There are multiple ways you can acquire 360 video. We would suggest using so  called ‘cinematic’ VR content which is content made for immersive cinema experiences.  Contacting creator portals like Jaunt & Within might be a way to get content, against a fee.

Some creators also share their content for free.  Their also ways to use content posted on YouTube but this might not be completely legal if plan to charge for your VR Cinema. Content can also be bought from stock portals like Shutterstock but those aren’t the most exciting videos.

What are the costs (and profits) for setting up a VR cinema?

There are few thing which determine the cost of running a VR Cinema. Location, hardware, software are all factors to consider next to things like marketing and promotion.  Keep in mind the following:

  • Hardware costs like the VR headsets, routers or Sync box
  • Software to synchronize the content
  • The room including seating and decoration
  • Purchasing or licensing 360 content
  • Staff needed for assistance

After you’ve determined the costs you can determine how many seats you need to fill against what rate,  in which time frame. For example; if you experience(s) last around 15 minutes with a 5 minute change over, you have 20 seats and charge 10 euros you can make 600 per hour.

While this sounds like easy money there is hardly a way you will keep all your seats filled all the time. Determine how many seats you need to run a day to make a profit and you have good starting point.

Should you start your own VR Cinema?

VR Cinemas can be profitable, especially in areas where there are none. Managing the Cinema experience is the easy part. Hardware like the Oculus GO and software like  VR Sync make it pretty straightforward. The profitability is the question. Do you research, make your calculation and determine if you can dive into the world of virtual entrepreneurship.

Ready to start your own VR cinema?

Please check out VR Sync. We offer a trial with all features!

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