The BBC has launched its first virtual reality production on the Oculus store this week. The film, We Wait, is a dramatised depiction of migrants making the perilous journey from Turkey to Greece on smugglers’ boats.
Produced by BBC Connected Studio and Aardman Digital, We Wait animates real-life real accounts from migrants gathered by BBC News.
The film begins on the beaches of Turkey, and from there takes viewers on board a vessel as it makes the perilous crossing across the Mediterranean.
Through its use of VR, We Wait provides a visceral understanding of the suspense and anticipation felt by displaced people journeying to Europe.
The immersive experience would be "impossible to reproduce through traditional reporting", according to the BBC, and is available to watch for free on the Oculus Store.
The BBC has been experimenting with virtual reality as a storytelling medium, but this is the first time it has published a piece of work on th Oculus Store.
Its other VR projects this year include:
- The Turning Forest: A VR fairytale available for Google Daydream, which sees a young child and a fantastical creature embark on a journey that transports audiences into an entrancing realm of folkish dimension and boundless imagination
- Planet Earth II: A series of 360 films put viewers alongside the documentary’s film crew, immersing them in the extraordinary natural environments captured in the hit show
- Rio Olympics: Live 360 video was available throughout the Olympics in Rio this August, and highlights are still available showing the best of each day’s action
- No Small Talk: A free-flowing and experimental 360 discussion is about the big ideas that underpin daily life between TV presenter and journalist Cherry Healey and social media sensation Emma Gannon
- Trafficked: A VR tale that enables viewers to experience the harrowing story of Maria, a single mother, as she is trafficked from Nicaragua to Mexico
- The Resistance of Honey: A 360 profile which puts the viewer in the shoes of an urban beekeeper who makes music (and honey) from his bees
- Fire Rescue: A 360 documentary which tells the real-life story of a crew of London firefighters rescuing six children from a house fire that broke out on Christmas Day
Zillah Watson, executive producer, BBC R&D, said: “We Wait has enabled us to explore how VR can deepen audiences’ understanding of a topic in a way they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience – a migrant’s perilous journey to Europe. It also offers a distinct way in which to deliver news content, and could be a very interesting tool for telling news stories in the future beyond the confines of traditional reporting.
“This film going live on the Oculus store for the Rift opens the film up to a wider audience, and caps off a big year for VR at the BBC, as we continue to explore the potential this emerging medium has to inform, educate and entertain.
"Our VR experiments this year have enabled us to look at the role the BBC should play at this early stage, raising important questions over how storytelling, pacing, direction, subtitling, sound and picture quality are all affected.”
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