Understanding the Differences Between AR, VR, and XR in Filmmaking

by | Sep 15, 2023 | Film

  • The main difference between AR, VR, & XR is what type of reality someone is in.
  • AR, VR, & XR is being used more and more by filmmakers to create movies.
  • Boiling Point Media is using a lot of XR in their film production.

In today’s rapidly evolving world of filmmaking, technology is playing an increasingly significant role. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Extended Reality (XR) have emerged as transformative tools that filmmakers are harnessing to create immersive, captivating experiences for audiences. Although we hear these terms thrown around, many people & filmmakers don’t understand the difference between AR, VR, & XR. Let’s break down what AR, VR, and XR are, explore their distinctions, and illuminate their applications in the world of filmmaking.


What Is Augmented Reality (AR)?

Augmented Reality, or AR, is a technology that overlays digital elements, such as 3D models, animations, or information, onto the real world. Unlike VR, AR does not immerse the user in a completely digital environment; instead, it enhances their perception of the physical world. AR is typically experienced through devices like smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, or AR headsets.


Using AR In Filmmaking

In filmmaking, AR can be a game-changer. It allows directors to seamlessly blend digital effects with real-world settings, enhancing storytelling and visual appeal. For example, AR can be used to create lifelike, interactive characters or provide contextual information within a scene, all while maintaining the connection to the real world.


What Is Virtual Reality (VR)?

Virtual Reality, or VR, is a technology that immerses users in a fully simulated digital environment. VR headsets completely replace the user’s real-world surroundings with a computer-generated world, offering a 360-degree immersive experience. Users can explore, interact with objects, and even manipulate their surroundings in this artificial reality.


Using VR In Filmmaking

In filmmaking, VR opens up new avenues for storytelling. Directors can transport viewers to fantastical worlds, giving them the sensation of being inside the film’s universe. VR films create a sense of presence and engagement that traditional filmmaking techniques can’t match. They allow viewers to become active participants in the narrative, providing an entirely unique cinematic experience.


What Is Extended Reality (XR)?

Extended Reality, or XR, is an umbrella term that encompasses both AR and VR, along with mixed reality (MR). XR combines elements of the real world and the digital world to create immersive experiences. While AR augments the real world, VR replaces it entirely, and MR blends the two seamlessly.


Using XR In Filmmaking

XR offers filmmakers a wide spectrum of possibilities. It allows them to choose the level of immersion and interactivity that best suits their storytelling needs. With XR, filmmakers can create mixed reality experiences that blur the line between fiction and reality, offering a rich, engaging narrative that captivates audiences.


What Are the Differences Between AR, VR, & XR?

To understand the differences between AR, VR, and XR more clearly, let’s break down their key distinctions.


Immersion Level

AR: Partial immersion, as digital elements are overlaid onto the real world.

VR: Full immersion, as users are placed entirely in a virtual environment.

XR: Variable immersion, as it encompasses both AR and VR experiences.


Device Requirements

AR: Can be experienced through devices like smartphones, tablets, smart glasses, or AR headsets.

VR: Requires VR headsets for a fully immersive experience.

XR: Encompasses a wide range of devices, from AR glasses to VR headsets.



AR: Allows for interaction with both real and digital elements.

VR: Provides extensive interaction within the virtual environment.

XR: Combines interaction with real-world and digital elements, depending on the experience.


Use of Real-World Environment

AR: Augments the real world.

VR: Replaces the real world.

XR: Mixes or blends the real world with digital elements.


How Is AR, VR, & XR Used In Filmmaking?

Filmmakers are harnessing AR, VR, and XR technologies to revolutionize the way stories are told and experienced. Here’s how these technologies are making an impact in the world of filmmaking.



AR: Filmmakers use AR to visualize scenes by overlaying digital assets onto physical locations. This helps in planning shots and optimizing the use of real-world sets.

VR: Directors can create virtual storyboards, allowing them to walk through scenes and explore camera angles in a virtual set before shooting begins.

XR: XR offers a flexible approach, enabling filmmakers to choose the level of digital integration that suits their pre-visualization needs.


Immersive Storytelling

AR: AR can be used to enhance scenes with digital characters, objects, or information, making the story more engaging and informative.

VR: VR transports viewers into the heart of the narrative, allowing them to experience the story from within the fictional world.

XR: Filmmakers can use XR to create mixed reality experiences, combining the benefits of both AR and VR to craft immersive narratives.


Enhanced Post-Production

AR: Post-production teams use AR for compositing visual effects seamlessly into live-action footage.

VR: VR can be used for editing and refining scenes in a virtual environment, streamlining the post-production process.

XR: XR technologies offer a versatile toolkit for post-production, allowing for a range of creative enhancements.

Audience Engagement

AR: Filmmakers can engage audiences in interactive marketing campaigns using AR apps and experiences related to the film.

VR: VR can be used to create promotional content that immerses potential viewers into the film’s world, generating excitement and anticipation.

XR: XR provides a broader canvas for audience engagement, enabling filmmakers to create unique, mixed reality marketing campaigns.


Film Festivals and Exhibitions

AR: AR can be used in augmented reality exhibitions, enhancing the experience for attendees.

VR: VR films are showcased in virtual cinemas at film festivals, allowing global audiences to participate.

XR: XR experiences can be tailored to specific events, combining elements of both AR and VR to captivate festival-goers.


Boiling Point Media Is On The Cutting Edge Of AR, VR, & XR

In the ever-evolving landscape of filmmaking, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Extended Reality (XR) have emerged as transformative technologies. Each offers unique opportunities for storytellers and filmmakers to engage, immerse, and captivate audiences in ways previously unimaginable. The filmmakers at Boiling Point Media have learned and used AR, VR, & XR extensively on film projects. Depending on the goals of the film and of different scenes, our film production team will use AR, VR, and/or XR to create the visual experience desired by the film director. Between the use of AR, VR, and XR and our LED volume wall, we can bring your film vision to life. Check out our website to learn more about the films we have produced as well as our filmmaking capabilities. If you are looking to produce a film, need VFX, or even need post production work, give Boiling Point Media a call and bring your film to its boiling point.


Contact Boiling Point Media



(405) 286-9635





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