After years of rumors, Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the tech giant’s much-anticipated mixed reality headset on June 5 — and Hollywood was in an uproar. Planned for early 2024, the Apple Vision Pro was unveiled as a wearable room computer “starting at” $3,499. The device is operated via an interface controlled by face, hands and voice. And with features like 4K, HDR, spatial audio and stereoscopic 3D, Apple made it clear that entertainment was central to its mission. Apple TV+ shows Ted Lasso And Foundation, endowment were included in the presentation, while the company described the device’s consumer utility as “personal cinema.” And Disney CEO Bob Iger During the reveal, the company even announced that Disney+ would be available on the device at launch, calling it a “revolutionary platform.”
The Hollywood Reporter Find out how the reveal resonated with some of entertainment’s top tech professionals:
Founder and CEO of content/tech studio Magnopus
Once Hollywood studios realize what’s possible, waves of new experiences will be produced that take advantage of the extended screen. Content creators have always been concerned with the audience’s “second screen” experience (the idea of people watching TV while looking at their iPad or iPhone for contextual information). Apple’s Vision Pro could be described as an “infinite screen experience”.
At the same time, because the contextual content is in 3D and can integrate with your environment, it might feel more like a “zero screen” experience for users. This is possibly what people have been looking for to help manage the cognitive load we are subjected to from all the devices in our lives. Over the past year, many filmmakers have expressed interest in developing their experiences “beyond the screen”. If we want to critically assess the difference between Apple’s Vision Pro and other AR or VR headsets, it comes down to the interoperability and unification of other Apple devices.
While the individual technology components of the device are certainly top-notch, they are backed by seamless integration with a wide range of other devices and features. A subtle but important distinction Apple is making with this launch: by including “Pro” in the name and releasing that level first, they’re letting people know that this product is aimed at those creating the experiences that transform consumers want the next generation of devices that they release. That takes some pressure off the price and many other expectations. They said several times in the presentation, “This is just the beginning,” and they’re right.
Founder of Light Iron post-production company, academician and technology entrepreneur
If Apple succeeds in bringing XR to the masses with Vision Pro, the focus will be on comfort and practical interaction. It’s possible that it will unlock the next form of television and rival the 4K HDR viewing experience on big screens. But what are the possibilities for creative people? Today most project deliverables are rectangular iterations of each other mapped to different color versions.
But could spatial computing perhaps be the ultimate result of our stories? I think it’s a bit early to say we’ll all be wearing $3,500 ski goggles all day, but then again, most of us didn’t think we’d all be fashion forward most of the day either would wear headphones for $250. Apple said Vision Pro aims to create “deeply personal experiences.” This means filmmakers have a new medium to enhance their stories with. I think that’s an invitation to Hollywood to get actively involved in this technology. In stark contrast to MSG’s Sphere content approach [the immersive dome under construction in Las Vegas could accommodate as many as 20,000 people]Apple and MSG share vastly different philosophies about how people consume content in an immersive way.
We’ve seen numerous digital advancements over the past 20 years: Film to Digital, 2K to 4K, SDR to HDR, Stereo to Atmos, Broadcast to Streaming. And with Apple Vision Pro, ultra-high quality meets total immersion. Apple said this won’t be available until early 2024 – which I think suggests they’ll spend the next nine months building a marketplace full of immersive content. Once this market matures and the technology and cost of ski goggles eventually morph into stylish eyewear, adoption will skyrocket. If anyone has ever worried that anything digital will diminish our connection to the physical world, perhaps XR will help us be more physically present in a digital experience.
3D Stereograph/Supervisor, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo
After Apple’s announcement, I received a lot of enthusiastic texts from artists and the 3D community. The first stereo cameras in an Apple product are huge! We’ve hoped for years that this would happen, it’s a big step for stereoscopy. And now we have our 3D with Apple’s 90Hz refresh rate, another step towards High Frame Rate, a more comfortable and detailed viewing experience. I’m thrilled that stereo imaging is THE landscape of experience in this headset for all applications, while displaying photo and video content at the high level Hollywood professionals always intended.
It feels like the future has arrived. I have high hopes for the democratization of stereo imaging made possible by Apple’s user-friendly interface. This accessibility has been needed for quite some time. 3D was often too complex for the average user and there was no platform on which to enjoy beautiful films after the cinema release. This is a great place where content and stories can be more intimate and certainly more lifelike in this world of “space videos”. I’m also looking forward to some upcoming 3D Zoom calls and to revisit the vast and growing catalog of stereo film spanning 70 years. Other devices might offer a big-screen cinema in a headset, but this AR device is likely to dominate as its viewing area offers more experience options to shape how you design your workspace and view your content.
Concerns could be the question of how the device can be seamlessly integrated into everyday life (without falling down the stairs). Can I safely wear the Vision Pro while commuting on the New York City subway? What are the physiological and social effects of the hardware experience? As always, proceed with caution. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to try the Vision Pro. Someone has to build a stereo [3D] Soon they will be filming this headset as the main camera to light up the world through these Apple lenses so we can all understand what opportunities are now being offered to literally every person on the planet. Hopefully other digital platforms will follow Apple’s example and take spatial video and stereo imaging seriously, because it’s how we experience our world through our own eyes every day, in bright, vivid detail and movement. 3D photography has always been a larger “truth mechanism” that aims to more accurately represent our world.
CEO of technology developer Sohonet
Apple was a late entrant into the world of streaming devices, but the Apple TV ended up edging out most of its competitors despite being a “hobby” for a long time. They were years after the pebble [smartwatch], but after a slow few years, the Apple Watch redefined the wearables category. AirPods are not dissimilar. The AR/VR glasses are probably in a similar location. Apple has decided how to pioneer this, and while it’s going to be slow going over the next two to three years, one day in the near future we’ll be waking up to a new Apple-dominated category.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to login.