Disney Banks on Virtual Reality for Movies With Nokia Deal

Studio will put Nokia VR cameras and software in filmmakers’ hands to make content linked to theatrical releases

The Jungle Book

Walt Disney Studios signed a multi-year deal with Nokia to provide virtual reality cameras and related software to the studio’s marketers and filmmakers, who will make VR content linked to Disney’s theatrical releases.

Jamie Voris, Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer, said the company’s aim is to “bring extraordinary experiences to audiences around the world, and specially-created VR content is one more way we can transport people even further into the worlds our filmmakers create.”

Virtual reality, an entertainment and communication format that makes viewers feel like they’re in the middle of the action, has been one of the buzziest areas of tech this year, with several long-anticipated headsets hitting the market at once.

With tech giants like Facebook, Samsung and Google pouring money into making VR hardware widely available, content companies have been grappling with how to establish themselves in the new format.

Nokia will be providing Disney with its OZO cameras. The equipment, launched in November 2015, was one of the first virtual-reality cameras aimed at professional content creators. It has a real-time VR preview, a kind of “spatial audio” that makes sounds directional and more realistic, and compatibility with professional workflows, as well as multiple head mounted displays. Nokia said the camera and related software can meaningfully reduce post-production time, complexity and cost.

Nokia and Disney already used the OZO to create two 360-degree videos — a red-carpet broadcast and and a cast interview — for the April premiere of “The Jungle Book.”

“Virtual reality represents a new frontier in storytelling, and we’re thrilled to be bringing this VR technology to the team at Disney,” said Ramzi Haidamus, president at Nokia Technologies. “OZO will help Disney bring their film properties to life in new ways through immersive entertainment experiences, and our focus will be on helping them get the most out of VR as they begin to uncover all that it has to offer.”