VR porn penetrating the mind?

Viewing figures are up 250 per cent from last year

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Can the porn industry rise to the challenge of virtual reality?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Virtual reality (VR) is shifting its focus from the tech to the content - but it is the adult content that is, if you will pardon the expression, exploding.

Adult entertainment has always led the way when it comes to innovations in the digital world. It helped VHS win out over Betamax, and Blu-ray over HD DVD, according to Wareable. It has even been argued that the Internet would not be the success story it is today without pornography.

Online pornography was the first to process payments online, and it was front of the queue to stream and live stream video. It even, Resource Magazine notes, helped establish "some of the staple lighting techniques used in fashion photography".

Virtual reality is next on its agenda, and by 2025, porn will be the third-largest VR sector behind video games and sports-related content.

Currently, VR porn videos are being accessed about 500,000 times per day on the world's biggest adult site, PornHub. Global views have more than doubled between June 2016 and April 2017, Inverse reports. Initially launching with 30 videos, PornHub's VR content has continued to grow, reaching over 2,600 videos in just 12 months.

Although VR porn videos are on the rise, their shoot is complicated and costly. The adult filmmakers shoot 360-degree videos, with the majority shot from a point of view perspective. In the case of VR porn director, Shy Love, she uses 14 cameras with the image from each cameras stitched together with the next for a seamless VR experience.

VR company CamasutraVR uses 12 different pieces of software to get from capture to completion, News.com.au reports. While some of the software will be borrowed from high-end video games, with games companies usually employing a cast of thousands to perfect each angle, small teams in VR porn also develop their own software, specific for their purpose.

As well as the time-consuming and expensive technology, the human element of VR porn is proving to be a problem. The style of filmmaking is, according to Vocativ, making male performers come up short. Due to the elaborate camera set-up, and continuity in the shoot, male porn actors are struggling to - erm - rise to the occasion. After hiring 12 men for POV shoots, Shy Love had to fire all of them within a week and temporarily shut down production due to this problem.

In the New York Magazine's podcast on the subject, Virtual Reality is Killing Boners, they note that even experienced male performers are struggling with the camera rig right in front of their face that does not allow them to make eye contact with, touch or kiss their co-star. To train for the VR filming experience, male performer Mike Mancini routinely invited women over to his apartment to "practice". They would blindfold him and tie his hands together so that he couldn’t touch them.

With VR porn exploding, the industry that has led the way in digital innovation must rise to the challenge. And there's no magic blue pill to help them on their way.

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Wired

The UK can't get enough of VR porn: viewing figures are up 250% from last year

The number of people in the UK and Ireland watching VR porn grew 250 per cent over the past 12 months, according to figures from Pornhub.

The porn site said virtual reality has been one of the fastest growing categories of videos on its platform since its launch in the Spring of 2016 when Pornhub's VR content included just 30 videos.

Now, hundreds of new VR videos are uploaded each month, bringing the total to more than 2,600 videos by May of 2017.

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