Sky launches VR App
Tech NewsSky is to become a home for virtual reality (VR) content with the launch of a brand new app, unsurprisingly titled Sky VR.
The app, available now for anyone to download for free, showcases a range of 360-degree videos from Sky, and the best content from Sky’s partners including Star Wars: Red Carpet, Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion and clips from Disney’s The Jungle Book.
To coincide with the app’s launch, Sky is also launching two new VR experiences: Sky Sports: Closer featuring David Beckham. And, coming later this autumn, the first of a series of Sky exclusive commissions – a performance from English National Ballet’s production of Giselle ahead of its forthcoming UK tour.
In his second piece of VR content for Sky Sports, David Beckham is seen entering a Sky VR simulator, which takes him and the viewer to visit some of the world’s best sports events at the touch of a button. The footage was created in-house by the Sky VR Studios, in collaboration with Google.
David Beckham said: “It was great to work with Sky and Google on this film to launch the new Sky Virtual Reality app. The team from the Sky VR studio came up with an incredible concept that shows the range of sport Sky offers. Being able to take other sports fans on a journey into some of the world’s biggest sporting events was a unique opportunity.”
At the other end of the creative spectrum viewers can access an immersive re-imagining of a performance from English National Ballet’s production of Giselle, which will be available later in October.
In addition to Giselle, Sky will commission a series of high-end VR experiences, under the Sky VR Exclusives label. Produced both in-house by the Sky VR Studios and with third-party partners, the series will build on the commitment to create VR content. This includes Sky News – US Elections and Tutankhamun’s Tomb – The Search for Nefertiti.
The first version of the app will give viewers a 360-degree video experience. Sky will be adding more to the app over the coming months, introducing more immersive VR features to improve the experience. Plus, to bring the full immersive experience of 360-video to as many people as possible, Sky will be giving away thousands of Google Cardboards to people visiting Sky Backstage at The O2 from 20 October.
At launch the Sky VR app will be home to around twenty different pieces of 360-degree video content from Sky, Disney, Fox Innovation Lab, Warner Brothers, Baobab Studios, Jaunt, Innerspace and Surround Vision.
Content highlights in the app at launch include:
- Star Wars: Red Carpet (Sky Cinema) – get closer to the red carpet at the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion – see Anthony as you have never seen him before, as he becomes IBF world heavyweight champion
- Disney - two VR experiences from The Jungle Book, enabling viewers to get up close and personal with King Louie and Kaa
- Fox Innovation Lab – The Martian Sneak Peek – transports viewers to Mars to follow the film’s protagonist Mark Watney after he has been stranded on the planet
- Warner Brothers – Suicide Squad: Squad 360 – viewers can see what it’s like being a member of the Suicide Squad during a scene from the film
- Team Sky – Journey to the Tour - follow the team preparing for their third Tour de France
- F1 - Team Williams – lets fans go behind the scenes of the Williams team, in the pit lane and in car viewing
- Sky News – Calais: The Jungle – taking viewers to the centre of the refugee crisis with footage from inside ‘The Jungle’
- Baobab Studios – Invasion – a VR animation about a duo of aliens aiming to take over the world, but needing to overcome two fearsome white bunny rabbits
- Jaunt – Paul McCartney: Dance Tonight - Paul takes viewers through the charming creation story of this song, and its music video
Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content at Sky, commented: “Interest in VR content is building, generating more excitement every day. We are just at the beginning of our VR journey at Sky, launching Sky VR studios earlier this year and we are already breaking new ground. Now comes the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging story-telling. I am a big believer."
Stephen Nuttall, Senior Director at Google and YouTube, says: “Great storytelling from Sky, in VR, for free on YouTube, and all accessible through Google Cardboard - a winning combination! Whether you’re passionate for sports or Beckham (or both!), this great partnership enables wonderful VR experiences for all to enjoy.”
Sky has been building its expertise in VR for a number of years. In 2013, the company invested in Jaunt, a US-based company pioneering cinematic virtual reality and will be sharing some content with their offering. Since then, Sky has been carrying out testing across a range of events including an interview in VR with David Beckham and Kirsty Gallacher, which saw him select his top three Premier League goals.
The app is available to download on a compatible mobile from Google Play or the App Store. The app will let anyone watch immersive Virtual Reality content on a Smartphone either in conjunction with a Google Cardboard headset or in 2D (360 degrees) without a headset. The app will also work when using Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift.
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