Anna Lee from HoloGirlsVR Developer Q&A
Anna Lee: HoloGirlsVR Q&A
When HoloGirlsVR first splashed on the VR Porn scene in early 2016 with their new website and an initial batch of early content, it was a fair stretch away from what anyone was doing in VR Porn at the time. From a stitched together 6 person orgy viewed from a 3rd person POV, to a few intriguing fly on the wall type shoots, to a very early attempt at filming facesitting in Virtual Reality, HoloGirlsVR were taking chances from jump and have not been afraid to stray outside of the box with their thinking when producing adult content for Virtual Reality over the last 6 months.
The current HoloGirlsVR collection now spans some 71 movies, featuring many A-list talents and where other studios had long since settled into a basic rhythm of production at a similar point, HoloGirlsVR still has a highly experimental vibe to it in early August 2016. As a consumer, it is a bit hard to keep track of at times, direction wise, and it often feels like shiny object syndrome from the outside, where creative discoveries are made and then indulged for a short period of time, with the two biggest examples of this being virtual Facesitting and overscaled"Cinematic" productions that have both seen fairly concentrated release densities in the last 4 months as well as receiving mixed receptions from consumers.
Despite this roller coaster type ride as a VR porn fan at times, HoloGirlsVR is a studio I enjoy keeping an eye on as they do continue to release some really strong VR movies in the course of all of their experimentation and are helping to further define the limits, boundaries and possibilities of shooting adult content for Virtual Reality.
Anna Lee, Executive Producer at HoloGirlsVR took some time out recently to discuss the experimental nature at HoloGirlsVR with us as well as plans and directions for future productions.
Q) Hi Anna, thanks for taking the time to talk with us a bit! Could you nutshell the origins of HoloGirlsVR, your general role at HoloGirls and what all that may entail, as well as a bit about your own professional background prior to HoloGirlsVR's creation?
A) HoloGirlsVR was born out of a company called Redlightcenter.com; the world’s premier Adult Virtual World. I have been working with that company since its inception in 2005 and also serve as their President. Two years ago, along with Tera Patrick, we premiered our VR compatible virtual world at the AVN Expo. The response was amazing, however, most people would often mention; “How amazing would it be if it were actually Tera Patrick and not just an avatar of her.”
This got us thinking about getting into the live action VR production space. My educational background is in film and I financed that by running a Phone and Cam Sex company. Being in adult production is natural fit for me. At HoloGirls, not only do I serve as their President, but I am also their executive producer and one of their primary directors.
Q) At times, Devs can spend most of their time developing content and are short on time to actually consume it. Are you able to watch some VR in your downtime, ...either HoloGirlsVR productions or perhaps finding inspiration from other studios also working in the VR space? Do you have any particular scenes that have stuck out to you recently if so?
A) I won’t lie; my schedule is extremely hectic so my spare available time is limited. However, I believe it is extremely important to view content on a regular basis. Not only to stay abreast of what is popular, but to also see some of the cool and amazing new techniques that other people incorporate.
I really like to check out the scenes on Wankz, BaDoink and VRP – love some of the stuff they are doing. From Badoink I love their parody stuff. Treasure Cunt, Street Fucker and the Trump Parody. Wankz is really outputting some great stuff too. Their work with Riley is great and I am looking forward to their Pokemon and Game of Thrones scenes. VRP of course have been around for a while and I have drawn tons of inspiration from their scenes like Rehearsal and Dominatrix.
My personal fav from our collection is naturally Flix and Chill. I am on set right in LA working on some really cool scenes that I hope you will all love and I am pretty sure will become my new favorites.
Q) Eye contact is part and parcel of a visceral, connected VR Porn experience and I currently feel that many HoloGirls movies are lagging significantly behind some of the other studios in this regard. There have been movies such as the Chanel Preston anal feature for example, where Chanel pretty much, never looked into the camera, rather always to one side of it, to where as a viewer it felt very much like, "who are you looking at over there?" Alternately, sometimes the performer will focus on one lens or the other, which looks awkward when viewed in an HMD. Is this something you have identified internally, and if so, can we look forward to some improvements in this area?
A) Argh……..trust me….this hurts me as much as it hurts you! But seriously yes we are working on trying to get that corrected permanently.
Q) HoloGirlsVR feels very loose right now. I like to call it the box of chocolates of VR Porn! I never know what flavor I am going to get and on one hand, this is refreshing, adventurous and I do welcome this spirit as someone who enjoys pushing my own artistic boundaries, as well as watching others stretch theirs.
But on the other side of the fence, as a paying customer, I am often left wondering what type of content it is I am subbing for at HoloGirlsVR, and over the course of the last 4 months, I have been faced with a couple months of fairly heavy cinematic presentations,(VR shot in VERY large scale) and more recently, quite a number of facesitting focused videos with seemingly very few "standard" scenes in between, the well received Get Flix and Chill scene with Yhivi being a quite notable exception there.
Do you think HoloGirlsVR may need to expand with a niche site to offload some of this content similar to what Czech VR have done, or do you want to keep HoloGirlsVR a super wide net, where the subscriber really never knows what kind of journey you are going to take them on from month to month? Is there an internal sense this may need to be focused up a bit for your monthly subscription base currently?
A) There are plans in the future to start branching off, but we aren’t quite there yet. First thing I want to mention is that there are several different directors that work for us and so you are going to get different flavors represented. Secondly and one of the most compelling reasons why I choose to work at HoloGirls is that we love to experiment with new techniques and ideas. We are just emerging from a very heavy period of experimentation and I feel like we will start settling into a groove of more POV and BG fare.
Personally I have been directing a lot more myself, so from me you are going to see a lot more stuff in the style of Flix and Chill as well as some really fun, pop culture based scenes. I love narrative, realism and working with interesting lighting – so you will def see more of that.
Q) Could you tell us what your experience was with Cinematic, and why it has seemingly largely been dropped after running quite hard with it for a period? From the outside, it very much felt like: Here is an problem we had with scale, (the original Rachel Rampage sample HoloGirls put out) but, it looks kind of cool....enjoy our new cinematic feature movies!
A) We shot a bunch of them in a row back to back and had a stockpile of the footage of which we released all of it. That being said, when it was released we got some blow back. People didn’t seem to like it. When we stopped suddenly we were hit with emails from people who had loved that look and were disappointed we were no longer releasing that type of scene. I personally think it is an interesting use of VR. I like how you can use different techniques to create different moods and visual effects. That being said I understand how important it is to use proper scale to create a true sense of immersion. Long story short – I don’t think cinematic is gone for good so it may remerge from time to time.
Q) The facesitting movies have been an interesting direction as well, and it is cool to see HoloGirlsVR and Czech VR push into this new area that incorporates some of the close ups being asked for by consumers, albeit in a very niche presentation. Have you had a chance to see CzechVR's facesitting movies, and if so, how do you feel about the FOV available there as contrasted to the rather restricted area provided by the HoloGirlsVR rig, which often leaves me feeling my head is in a cloud, and presents problems with talent drifting out of frame towards my chin. Are there any plans to increase FOV and minimize blurred border intrusion in those videos? Many also seem to feel HoloGirlsVR is running a bit heavy on facesitting over the last month. Do you see these facesitting themed movies being released at the current frequency going forward or is this more of an our-new-favorite-toy syndrome we are seeing as subscribers currently?
A) Yes I have seen their scenes and they do a wonderful job of it. We would definitely love to increase the FOV and are experimenting with various methods to do so. I also agree that yes we have been very heavy handed with the scene releases. Girls love to do those scenes! Plus it’s a great easy intro into VR and the setup is minimal. We also made the mistake of doing the same thing that we did with the cinematic collection. We shot a whole bunch of scenes back to back and had a nice back log of them to go through. We really need to work on our scheduling and spacing ;)
Q) HoloGirlsVR movies currently run shorter than the kind of standard 30 to 40 minute range that many studios are using right now. I often feel like I am LAUNCHED into a HoloGirlsVR production, where in the space of less than a minute, I am getting down to business and that can kind of come off very standard porno approach to me. Where with a longer setup in VR, even just a few minutes, it helps kind of acclimate the viewer to the space, you can look around a bit, judge scale, get used to having your gear on, and then kind of get into the sex and situation, more in a Get Flix and Chill kind of flavor. Because of the tight time limits, it can also feel like edits are made for time shaving reasons in some cases and each time an edit occurs in VR , it can be rather jarring to immersion, causing the viewer to have to "reset" in a sense, their senses. Technical edits can be unavoidable but "radio" edits are usually to accommodate a desired runtime. What is the rational at HoloGirlsVR for keeping your movies that short and is image quality a factor?
A) Well at HoloGirls there are a few different directors – some of them like to launch right into it. From me, especially in the future you will see longer scenes with more set up. I am finally super comfortable with the medium and I am now focusing on more narrative and story with performance. This will create longer scenes.
Some edits are made because of technical issues, others for quality and file size. We are still figuring out our way in a space where the hardware and filming equipment change faster than any other entertainment medium. That all being said, we have noted all the feedback and I will personally be working towards releasing longer scenes from myself. Our next Penny Pax release will be in the neighborhood of almost 40 mins. :)
Q) In general, it really feels like the pendulum is swinging totally the other way from Gonzo aesthetics in traditional porn with the direction VR porn is moving in right now. How do you feel about this new emphasis on intimacy in VR and its potential implications to adult entertainment moving forward? Men are asking for things such as whispering, kissing, eye contact, and close proximity to females faces, as these are some of the most powerful elements in VR currently with these early movies. To anyone following along with male masturbation trends over the last century of printed and filmed media...this is a bit of a shift in shooting priorities for a porn studio! How is HoloGirlsVR viewing this trend in terms of upcoming content creation and trying to cater to that particular demographic of men?
A) I love it and we are embracing it. Being a woman myself, GFE comes naturally to me. I totally get it! We have some amazing new scenes coming out….in fact tonight I just shot a sequel to Flix and Chill that blows the original out off the water. I hope you enjoy it. There is much more on its way.
Q) Mistress T seems amazingly talented to me at doing what it is she does. How is she to work with, and does she just have the ability to turn that on like a switch pretty much? She seems to run her lines almost effortlessly and I often view her as more of a genuine ACTRESS. Can you hint at anything looming on the horizon with Mistress T and HoloGirlsVR?
A) Mistress T is an amazing performer and a true professional. She works quickly and is always prepared. I adore working with her. You say action, she turns it on immediately. Effortless is a great word to describe her performances. As for the future, let me say that there will be one with Mistress T :)
Q) Yhivi, likewise, seems very natural and at ease, offering such a great package of sweet, dirty, innocent and playful. You mentioned on Reddit that the layback move in Get Flix and Chill was actually unscripted and just spontaneous action on Yhivi's part. Could you talk about some of the highlights of that highly regarded shoot, and what you took away from it when you watched it in VR? I found the very stripped approach to lighting and setting to play to the realism of it, and it very much felt like a quick evening couch fuck with my girlfriend, more than a porno set to me.
A) Creating the mood and environment are very important to me. Not only from a visual stand point but also for the performers. You put them in a set that creates that mood for them and it sets the tone for the scene. VR is a little limiting right now with being highly creative with lighting. I took a risk with making the room dark for this scene but I felt that it worked.
Working with Yhivi is a pure joy. She is the Ellen Paige of porn. An amazing actress, sexy as hell, incredible at fucking and she loves to work with you to make a great scene. Yes the layback move was all Yhivi – an amazing idea on her part. It also helps that she fits in frame really well (lol). I just finished shooting the sequel to Flix and Chill with her – it’s the first morning in your new place together. The relationship has evolved since that first date on the couch. She brought so much to that shoot and worked with me to develop the character and to show the progression of the relationship of the couple. It’s a very sexy, intense and highly intimate scene.
The biggest thing I took away from the response to the original scene was that the customers are looking for more narrative, more character development and more realism. It excited me that you guys are asking for that. My mainstream world and porn world are colliding in the best way.
Q) Get Flix was very well received and was the first VR scene to feature kissing, which studios like WankzVR are now incorporating into every shoot. Were you surprised at the effectiveness of those kisses in VR and could you elaborate a bit about the challenges you face if wanting to incorporate kissing into a scene moving forward, either technically speaking or speaking of talents feelings on doing that type of thing on a porn shoot.
For instance, do you think some performers will be very uncomfortable, with what seems to my imagination, to be a very awkward thing to try to do? How receptive do you feel most performers you have worked with seem to be with this new level of interaction being asked for with VR?
A) The first time I watched Yhivi’s kiss in Flix I was shocked at the physical response it invoked in me. I mean; I knew it was going to be cool, but I didn’t realize how much of a physical and emotional response it would create.
There are tons of inherent challenges with trying to replicate the perfection of that kiss. Not every performer is comfortable kissing the camera. VR is forcing porn performers to become better “actors” now. Prior to this, they kissed a real person – now they are kissing air, metal and plastic. They are aiming for that perfect spot beneath the lens and it’s incredibly difficult to hit the mark every time. Some performers embrace this whole heartedly. Some of them take amazing direction and can hit their mark every time. Some have a tougher time with it and can’t visualize the final product – even when you show them examples. And then…..you throw fucking into the mix and some can’t even remember their name! I don’t envy the things they have to remember, all while having an orgasm. Frame! Don’t lean this way or that. Kiss! Right there! That magic spot not too far and not too close! All while Fucking Hard! And Cumming! And Action!
Plus there’s myself and my camera operator trying to peer behind a complicated rig, trying to see if they are hitting their mark and those perfect spots. I think you get the idea.
Now that VR has been out for about a year of solid production, you are now casting performers who have experience and get it. They are highly receptive to VR and what it takes to make a great scene. And then there are performers like Yhivi, Penny Pax, Abella Danger, Cherie DeVille and Anikka Albrite who will push and deliver. They embrace hard work and will do whatever it takes to give you an amazing scene. I have been so lucky to work with people like that.
Q) There is also a fairly large voice that says that the actual kissing is not even needed, rather, it is the simple proximity effect of having the woman that close to you that provides much of the mental stimulus. I recall in Turning my Stepson Straight, Mistress T being juusssst frustratingly out of that range and it being such a tease. Do you intend to increase close up face time in the future, as that seems to be one of the most intoxicating things to view in VR for men right now?
A) Yes – we are striving for some more close up face time, but to be frank, sometimes the scene doesn’t call for it. Mistress T makes very purposeful choices for her scenes. There is a reason she is at that distance. It is an intentional choice on her part for her specific scenes. That’s what she does. She is in control of what she creates.
On the other hand, the cameras and rigs are also improving and allowing for us to get even closer than we were able to just a short year ago. You will see more close ups from us, but as I stated earlier; from myself personally, I will only do what the scene warrants. I am all about creating a realistic environment so you won’t see crazy toys that make no sense in a scene or gratuitous anything unless the scene calls for it…..but that’s just me :)
Q) Pay per clip offers a premium price point and a reduction in leaching exposure. Is pay per clip something that HoloGirlsVR have entertained as a purchase option for some that may not feel confident the bulk of the content may justify a sub but are really interested on one or 2 movies or performers?
A) Currently you can purchase single scenes from HoloGirls from Gamelink.com with more to follow! We only have a handful of titles on there right now but it will expand overtime.
Q) Any teases you can leave us with on who we may be able to look forward to seeing in the coming months at HoloGirlsVR? Anyone you would really like to work with but have not been able to yet?
A) A lot of new girls. I have this amazing red couch in my office and have been auditioning new talent constantly. Some of these girls will go on to do fully fleshed out scenes, some won’t.
I am also personally starting to put some focus on to parodies and cosplay. Got an amazing scene with Penny Pax as Misty from Pokemon coming out in less than 2 weeks. I really had fun with the lighting and acting in that one!
And…….GFE with narrative. Tons coming down the pipeline. I am doing a lot of writing in that area right now so you will start to see things coming from me that are less: Let’s just fuck, and more with a backstory and some development. I also want to look into producing some more GIRL POV as well. Right now I am unhappy with what is currently available in that arena. One day we will get that right!
Lastly I am leaving for Japan for a 2 week trip in just a couple of days to shoot. So except some cool Japanese VR coming in the future should everything work out well :)
Thanks so much!