Samsung on Monday, announced the launch of Gear Indie, a new virtual reality channel which will be available exclusively on the company's Gear VR headsets, through the company's Milk VR platform. The channel is reported to be launching with five indie VR short films on Monday, and every day for the rest of the week, Samsung will add two more films to the collection. The company has already been promoting exclusive content on Milk VR, and had previously tied up with professional sports leagues and Hollywood movie studios to produce exclusive content for the platform. Tying up with independent virtual reality filmmakers seem to be the natural next step in Samsung's progress towards making its platform a full-fledged self-sufficient entertainment platform, which it believes will help sell more hardware.
Coming to the thirteen films that Samsung says it will make available in the first week itself, Mr. Matt Apfel, vice president of strategy and creative content at Samsung Media Solutions Center America, told FastCompany that the films will come in a variety of genres including science, car-racing, time-lapse nature photography and dark comedies. There will apparently also be a cat video thrown in the mix. Mr. Apfel also revealed that Samsung will hold a number of Gear Challenges for indie VR filmmakers – between eight and fifteen of them overall – whereby filmmakers would be asked to make films on specific subjects, with winners receiving prizes either in cash or kind. The filmmakers, most of whom are newcomers to the field of 3D VR film-making, will get to work with mentors, who're either experts at the given subjects or relative veterans at the still fledgling art of VR content creation.
Mr. Apfel also let it be known that videos selected for the Gear Indie project will broadly fall under one of three basic categories – automotive, scientific (nature or technology) and fictional accounts, narrated in innovative ways. He also said that in the long run, he sees the Gear Indie channel as the VR equivalent of YouTube, although on a much smaller scale. "Everybody is Steven Spielberg in VR, and nobody is Steven Spielberg in VR. We want to learn as much as our filmmakers", said Mr. Apfel, in an apparent nod to the novelty factor of VR where most people involved in developing VR content are learning on the job.