In 2014, a sex-positive man in Vancouver, BC built his own VR camera. Already enmeshed in the local kink scene and now equipped with the appropriate tools, Markus Edge couldn’t think of a reason not to shoot VR porn.

Not long after launching MetaverseXXX in August 2014, Markus and his team realized what separates traditionally shot porn from Virtual Reality Porn – the level of intimacy that’s achievable through Virtual Reality.

This realization both excited and intimidated Markus and his team. Two years later, Metaverse is churning out content that is wholly original in how it handles authentic and often intense sexual and kinky VR experiences.

Metaverse-logo-for-VR

Tell me about MetaverseXXX and what you guys are doing with VR porn.

The big vision of this organization is to actually spread the sex-positive culture. That’s our main mission – and to do it in an equitable fashion so that everyone involved is seeing the benefits (or the losses, depending on where we go) – and to have a lot of fun doing it!

We’re trying to capture authentic, consensual, legal content (which in our province is a very wide definition, we have hardly any laws to restrict us here). So as long as it’s consensual and legal, we want to shoot it. We’re already in a very sex-positive community here in Vancouver. (I’ve been involved in the fetish scene, the BDSM scene, and the spanko scene – all of the different kinds of play scenes.) Everyone who’s involved in the company comes from that scene on some level.

So what you’re seeing on our website – and we have some crazy stuff coming up this week – is done however the people involved want to shoot it. We don’t even have a script. Sometimes we show up, and we’re like, okay, what are we doing today? And we figure it out right there on the spot. And usually we go to the models (we like to have models who are also sex-positive), and we ask them, what do you want to do? What do you want to explore? And we just sort of let the VR camera follow them around as they go through their two or three, sometimes nine shoots they do in a day. We follow them around exploring each other sexually.

So you guys are cultivating a really intimate, authentic, space. This stuff is shot in real time. It doesn’t sound like you’re doing any planned cuts to get certain angles; you’re really just following the performers with the cameras.

Yep, that’s what we’re doing. Straight up.

Isn’t that challenging with a VR setup?

It is…It’s been getting easier. When we first started doing this two years ago, in 2014, no one knew what the heck we were talking about, and the technology was hard to demo. We found that more professional porn stars had a really hard time with this sort of adjustment. And I don’t know the other world, I’ve never shot standard; I had never been a videographer by any means. So I kinda jumped into the deep end. But many of the skills that applied to the old way, don’t apply to the new way, so it’s no big deal.

You guys have been in this way longer than most of the VR studios that are producing porn right now. What have you learned in that stretch of time?

We started doing this in August of 2014. The only reason we started is because I built a VR camera. I messed around for nine months and eventually got this camera working. And I was very happy with it.

It was actually watching the very first VR porn – it was called Oculus Real Porn, now it’s Virtual Real Porn – when I was like, my camera’s better than this! Maybe I should make porn! I never even thought of this, never thought this was a possibility until I saw that. And I was already involved in the sex-positive community in Vancouver, my partner and I threw events – sex-positive events. So I was like, why don’t we make porn with this? That’s how it started.

Other VR studios making porn right now are focusing on more mainstream entry points, they’re making porn that will appeal to a wider audience. They’re not necessarily focusing on specific groups. It’s really cool that you guys are thinking about everybody, and what everybody likes, and taking feedback from your viewers and asking them what they want and going ahead and making that.

They’ve been asking for a lot, and we’ve been trying to deliver.

If a model gets a request, and it’s not their kink, we don’t want to shoot it because it will show. We want the viewer to put those goggles on and feel like they’re in that room and feel that sexual energy; these actors aren’t strangers, they’re people who are legitimately into each other. That’s how the whole team is. On our team we have couples, friends with benefits, people who have otherwise met naturally. Two members of our team met a friend’s event, established that they were into each other, and that they wanted to make porn together. We’ve been following this couple on their journey getting to know each other, and it’s been really cool.

So you’ve worked now with professional porn performers but also with people who meet in a very organic way and then decide they want to do VR porn. Do you notice a difference between working with professional performers and amateurs?

Yes.

[Laughter.] Do you find it more challenging to work with amateur performers or do you feel that they simply bring something different to the table?

As long as the director/coach (in this case it’s me) and the technical team are able to move the camera in a way that matches their vision naturally without asking them to make too many compromises (because now they’ve got a camera in their faces), usually it flows pretty well. We try to make it as seamless as possible.

The couple, for example, will be like, “we want to do this kind of a scene.” And I’ll ask them, am I watching this scene from the first person? Am I going to be one of you? And then we start playing around, we discuss, we try out this, we try out that, “Can you hold this position for 20 minutes?” Then we’ll try something else until it sticks. It’s so organic right up to the point where I hit record. We don’t know what we’re doing until right at that moment. But it flows so well.

With professional [performers], they have a harder time adjusting normally, because they’re looking for scripts, they’re used to holding one position for forty seconds, and then pausing and doing a closeup, etc. But with our amateurs, we say, “go!” and that’s it. There’s no stopping. The only time you ever see a blink to a black is if we have a camera glitch. Generally, we just shoot the whole thing end to end.

So you’re finding that a lot of the professional performers are adjusting to a different way of shooting.

Yeah.

Feeding off a VR camera is so much different than doing head on porn. You have to think about the person watching you in an entirely different way – as if they’re in the room with you, as opposed to watching you from a computer screen at home.

That’s right. It’s sort of a crowd vibe that you get from a regular camera. Where in VR, you’re not looking at a crowd, you’re looking at a person. When you make eye contact with a computer screen, you don’t feel like they’re looking at you. But holy shit do you ever feel like that in VR. You really feel like, “oh! They’re looking at me!” A little dopamine gets released by the brain, you’re making eye contact with someone you’re attracted to and want to mate with.

Do you find your viewers requesting a higher level of intimacy in the content you produce?

Absolutely. And it’s been an interesting journey. When we started out a few years ago, the rule for the team was, don’t get any closer than a foot and a half away from the lens. Because it’s hard to focus on [someone that close], it gets a little blurry. So we avoided that. On a couple of occasions we got close. And then we started hearing more and more on Reddit that people wanted intimacy. Always, “more intimacy.”

So one day I had a great discussion with a person on Reddit about intimacy, trying to really get inside of their head. And I told them we do have some technical difficulties, if you get too close to the camera, the lens can’t merge the image, it just looks like a mess. And this person said, yeah, we know, it’s okay because that happens in real life too. And I was like…yeah, you’re right. If you get close to kiss someone in real life, you close your eyes mostly because of that visual effect.

So we tried it. It took probably a month to convince one of my team members to actually take the plunge and sort of kiss the camera and get intimate. And we put it out last week to an awesome reception. Viewers were like, “yeah! That’s it!” So now I’m trying to get the other models (if they’re comfortable) to go in and try this. But a lot of them have been like, “I don’t know if I want to do that.” It’s really intimate for them too. They’re going to be putting themselves out there to a lot of people at home, jerking off to her kissing them in a very bonding sort of way.

And that’s one thing that makes VR porn very interesting – that ability to bond. And because of that, I think that the sex trade industry and VR porn industry are on a merging or collision course. I really do see that in the next decade, whether people are at home with haptics getting off, or at a premium arcade sort of environment where you can show up and have sex with whoever, however you want.

Cam girls are already using teledildonics to make their clients feel like they’re connecting to them in a more direct, intimate way.

Yeah, it’s crazy. And if you add that VR element, your animal brain gets convinced that this girl is touching you. And she’s into you.

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