BDH immersive

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BDH Immersive in BBC Earth magazine

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE

By Christian Amodeo

BBC Earth is breaking new ground in the world of virtual reality, with three genre-blurring films in which nature is experienced in fresh and exciting ways. My first steps into the virtual world felt incredibly real and immersive.

Viewers are taken to another place. In my first experience a caracal’s leap is into a magical world.

“This project is about moving from the 360 film world – in effect a ball of video – to a 360 immersive world you can move around and interact with” says John Durrant, Creative Director at BDH.

It’s a pioneering feature. The caracal in mid leap, and hyper slow motion, turns into a faithfully recreated, 4,000-cubic pixel polygonal CGI model, comprising of 7,600 vertices (points where the lines meet.) It is rigged with joints, a spine, limbs eyes, claws and even individual whiskers.

“There’s a huge skill in making a CGI animal move like the real creature. Giving it weight and imbuing it with character” says Durrant. “It’s a real hallmark of the  craft of the animator, to mimic the cat’s actual movement”.

The viewer can move around the caracal and by staring at certain items, information will appear. These ‘gaze spots’ mean the headset knows what you are looking at and embedded content such as video (The caracal has large ears tipped with tufts of dark hair of up to 10cm in length that enhance it’s ultra-sensitive hearing.)

GROUND BREAKING

For their factual accuracy, imaginative level of interactivity, and creative risk-taking in forging new techniques, BBC Earth’s trio of experiences may well be a virtual triumph.

John Durrant