Images courtesy of REWIND

Where story-living happens: "Home – a VR Spacewalk"

based on a conversation with Sol Rogers, Founder/CEO of REWIND

Last modification: 30 Aug, 2017
Duration
5 mins

REWIND collaborated with BBC Science, BBC Learning, and BBC Digital Storytelling, to create an epic 15 minutes in space: "Home – A VR Spacewalk." The BBC has described it as a ‘cinematic, narrative-led and fully interactive VRE project (Virtual Reality Experience), inspired by NASA and ESA’s training programs and the experiences of real astronauts.’ I describe it as utterly transportive – and as something that I am immensely proud of.

It took our team about four months to create "Home": two months spent researching and planning, and another two of heads-down, intensive work. We built the International Space Station first, then set about determining what narrative would go with it. We started with a straightforward documentary idea, but the more we got into it, the more we realized that we had an opportunity to push things further, toward something truly immersive and entertaining.

From there, "Home" literally took off. The team put blood, sweat, and tears into it. We really believed in what it could be.


— Sol Rogers, Founder/CEO at REWIND

 


Autodesk M+E is making a VR experience! Follow along as we take a Journey to VR.


 
 
 
"Home" is more than storytelling. It’s story-living.

At REWIND, we consider 360-degree video and VR to be two different things. For us, 360° is a storytelling medium while VR, when done right, is a story-living medium. Home lets users feel what it’s like to be an astronaut floating 250 miles above Earth, with views of the space station, and the universe — and it’s here that we’re trying to really define what story-living entails.

 

It’s no stroll in the park. You are on a critical space mission.

Faced with the endless blackness of space, users take on a mission and are confronted by the challenges of their alien environment, and forced to contend with an emergency. Because it’s experienced using a haptic feedback chair, users can feel the vibrations and sensations a real astronaut would feel through their suit from parts of the station or machinery being interacted with. Furthermore, an integrated biometric system allows them to hear their own heartbeat. Home is one seriously visceral piece of content.

 

 
 
"Home" is astronaut-approved.

Only 215 people have done a spacewalk, and one of them is Nicole Stott. Nicole was at the Future of Storytelling Festival, and we put her through the Home experience. Incredibly, she informed us that what you’re challenged to do in Home is exactly what she had to do on her real-life spacewalk. She commended us on how accurately everything was and wowed us by saying that it was possibly even a better training tool than what currently exists at NASA!

 

And it is accurate down to every nut and bolt.

To achieve absolute realism, we interviewed astronauts and gathered feedback from NASA and ESA on the modeling side of things. Much of the main structure was constructed using a very practical reference: a Haynes Manual, originally produced as a novelty for the International Space Station — the most detailed and accurate plan you can find. We bought a copy for every single modeler in the studio, and we built a completely nuts and bolts accurate space station, literally from the ground up.

 

 
 
"Home" will make you feel queasy. And as well it should.

Users will actually have one of those gravity moments where they’re spun for about 13 seconds, and that could well bring on some motion sickness. But it’s supposed to, expressly because that’s how astronauts feel. Nicole said it best: ‘I’m never going to get to go back to space but with this, I actually had the same feeling of what it was like floating and looking back at Earth.’

 

This experience has surpassed everyone’s expectations even our own.

Of course, when we applied to the Future of Storytelling Festival, I thought that this experience and the idea of story-living might be of some interest to them. Being accepted, then becoming a finalist was a pleasantly surprising honor in itself, but to then go on to actually become the Juried Prize Winner? That was absolutely astounding.

 

 

HOME - a VR Spacewalk

 

The pipeline for "Home: A VR Spacewalk" included both Autodesk Maya and 3ds Max. Created in Unreal Engine 4 and delivered on HTC Vive, this VR experience is part of BBC Learning’s mission to encourage the next generation of scientists and explorers while furthering exploration into virtual reality.

 

In addition to the recent Juried Prize presented by Time Warner at the Future of Storytelling Festival (FoST), "Home" has also received a silver award in the VR category at the Lovies, won the Best Immersive Experience at Binge Watch, plus the Alternate Realities VR award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

 

Thanks so much to Sol and REWIND. We couldn't take our Journey to VR without you!

Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Maya
  • VR
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