Rakka creates all-round immersive stories with VR
Rakka Creative, a startup founded in Tampere in 2015, uses virtual reality and 360-degree video to create immersive, personal and emotionally captivating audiovisual experiences.
Ilmari Huttu-Hiltunen would much rather pull out his laptop and virtual-reality headset than attempt to verbally describe the cinematic virtual reality content produced by Rakka Creative.
“I’ve tried to explain it hundreds of times,” he tells with a smile more indicative of appreciation than exasperation. “What we do is something you have to see and experience with virtual-reality goggles. I’ve yet to meet a single person who understands what we’re doing without seeing it first-hand.”
The Tampere-based startup is currently primarily engaged in the production of marketing content for businesses from various industries by means of virtual reality and 360-degree video.
“The projects are very different. The idea is that we allow the viewer to experience real environments while enhancing them with elements such as artwork, narratives, music and voice-overs,” says Huttu-Hiltunen, the company’s founder and chief executive.
“What it does is removes the ad-like feel of the content.”
First new form of narrative for a century
It is not the technological concept that is difficult to verbalise but rather what it enables: an immersive, personal and, consequently, emotionally captivating viewing experience unlike any other.
“360-degree video enables a new, well-defined form of narrative that gives a new role to the viewer and can be used to tell different kinds of stories. Because it’s really the first new form of narrative for 100 years, it’s taking people a while to grasp what it’s really about,” tells Huttu-Hiltunen.
He predicts that although cinematic virtual reality is expected to become a well-established format following the proliferation of head-mounted displays, it is likely to remain something of a niche because the stories it is used to convey are more personal and because the viewing experience is not as social as that for traditional film.
“I’m certain it’ll be used. The need for that kind of narrative content will increase slowly but surely,” he affirms.
“But my vision isn’t necessarily related to how big a thing this will become. There’s a lot of talk these days about what will be the next big thing and how everyone should be jumping on the bandwagon. That’s not a particularly appealing starting point for someone who simply wants to make great content.”
An empathy machine
Huttu-Hiltunen also draws attention to what he describes as a fascinating contradiction: numerous studies have suggested a correlation between the adoption of new technologies such as robotics and the diminishing ability of people to empathise with each other. Virtual reality, on the other hand, has been shown to have the opposite effect.
“VR is sort of like an empathy machine,” he states. “It’s a means to share stories around the world about different people from different cultures in a way that’s interesting, entertaining and educational, allowing viewers to empathise with a variety of people.
“It’s an opportunity to experience feelings that for many might otherwise be rather difficult to experience.”
Cost and time savings
Rakka Creative has also developed a production format that takes advantage of the narrative strengths of the technology with a view to offering it to the owners of virtual-reality platforms around the globe.
“The format is based on the fact that we’re able to create content that’s interesting specifically to the people who use the platform,” says Huttu-Hiltunen. “And the big thing about that is that the content is produced efficiently and finalised in a fraction of the time a big company would spend on it. So, it also creates cost savings.”
The startup, he confirms, has made a conscious decision not to trade away scalability in order to offer tailor-made content for every client.
“Our challenge is getting a foot in the door and showing our work to the right people because that’s the only way to make it clear that this isn’t just another hype. We’re no longer demoing technology or demoing some wonderful video format, but we’re having an emotional effect on people. And that’s something you can use for a great deal of things,” tells Huttu-Hiltunen.
Text: Aleksi Teivainen