October 10, 2017

Rewind & The BBC - Creating an Out-of-This-World Experience

By Keef Sloan

As a joint collaboration between the BBC and digital production studio Rewind, BBC Home: a VR Spacewalk is a truly award-winning project. It won a Silver Lion award at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and was recently nominated for VR Experience of the Year at the UK’s VR Awards, hosted by VR Bound.

The VR spacewalk experience came about after a conversation the BBC’s Tom Burton had with British Astronaut Tim Peake. Tim shared with him that one of the experiences he had really enjoyed during his preparation to go to the International Space Station was an emergency training scenario. It was from this start point that the BBC and Rewind started to plan how best to deliver a VR experience to users across the globe that could also align with the BBC’s mission to inform, educate and entertain its audience.

As Rewind’s Head of Special Projects, Oliver Kibblewhite, explained: “We were looking to push the boundaries and to cross the border from being a form of entertainment to being a life experience.”

The project was built entirely to scale. This means that the earth itself is 1:1 size, giving you a panorama within your field of view that is, at times, genuinely breathtaking.

Doing things this way presented the teams with some problems (the datasets were huge!), but UE4 allowed Rewind to work in the way that they wanted, and re-create the exact lighting effects and physical properties that an astronaut circumventing the ISS would experience.

This was further validated by two astronauts who tried the experience in New York. Their response: “Wow!”

With a Silver Lion in the trophy cabinet, this mesmerising VR space experience is now both inspirational and award winning.