As for VR I’m guessing gaming will be the first field to benefit commercially from it, and it’s also the field in which there’s still a fair amount of revenue to be made and a fair amount of content control (i.e. less copyright infringement compared to music/film/tv). So I think services will still be needed there. If the porn industry follows then that too will possibly push production towards VR.
For more ‘pedestrian’ VR I agree that a lot of people won’t bother with it, but on the other hand I think the bigger issue technically and especially practically is the visual experience. We block out the rest of the world when we put on those VR headsets or glasses, but we don’t actually have to do that with audio. If audio is delivered using regular headsets then the technology is already there. So there’s at least the potential for audio to grow somewhat independently of video, assuming we have the imagination to come up with something useful.
Anyway, I think there’s business in it for engineers, just not for a lot of us, yet. And there’s of course also the question of how much of this will be traditional engineering and how much will be simply creating assets which are then automatically placed/mixed using algorithms.
As for Atmos/Auro3D I slightly disagree though. I have to say that the formats are pretty nice when done right. I think the bigger issue is really aesthetic restraints on the directors. Listening to something like Star Trek “Into Darkness” in Atmos + converted-to-3D was pretty meaningless in my opinion. Both visually and aurally. The mix was just so extremely busy that the enveloping sensation was lost. Gravity on the other hand was completely different. With a more dynamic mix I think Star Trek could have benefited from it as well, but who knows, the movie was pretty much wall-to-wall action anyway so perhaps it wouldn’t have fit the film.
At any rate, I think as we become more comfortable with working with it we’ll see more and better use of it. Some people still argue that stereo is sufficient, yet to me the difference between it and 5.1 is huge once you’re A/B-ing, and I also feel 7.1 is superior to 5.1… and if done well Atmos to 7.1 (I’ve unfortunately never heard Auro 3D).