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Sky set to go big on Virtual Reality

3D is dead. Long live 3D.

by Mark Hodgkinson Mar 17, 2016


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    Sky set to go big on Virtual Reality
    We all know that 3D is now a moribund proposition, in terms of home entertainment at least, and Sky’s removal of their dedicated channel was one of the nails in the coffin but there’s a new kid in town in the shape of VR (virtual Reality) and, ever the pioneers, Sky is now backing this emerging form of immersive home entertainment.
    Sky has announced it is launching a major new commitment to VR with sports, movies, news and entertainment content set to launch sooner than you’d think. To step up the production of VR content across all its markets, Sky has created Sky VR Studio, a dedicated in-house VR production unit. The first pieces of VR content to be produced by the unit will be released on Friday – two films shot during Formula 1 testing in Barcelona, which will transport viewers to the pit lane, into the team garages, and out onto the track.

    The two F1 VR experiences, which were produced in conjunction with Formula One Management and Williams Martini Racing, will be made available via the Facebook 360 Video platform. The full VR experience will also be available on the Oculus platform, and viewable on the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets. Later in the year, Sky will look to distribute content through a dedicated Sky VR app.

    Over the coming year, Sky VR Studio will produce more than 20 individual films, across a range of Sky content – from major cultural events in news to some of the biggest sporting events on the planet.

    The team, which is led by Executive Producer Neil Graham, includes production staff with experience in VR film making. It will be bolstered with the addition of award-winning VR director Richard Nockles, who directed Sky VR Studio’s F1 film, and is behind a wide range of VR projects for a number of global brands.

    Sky says it 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. Since then, Sky has been carrying out testing across a range of events. Already, the Sky News team has produced ‘360’ videos, taking viewers to the centre of the migrant crisis with footage from the refugee landing beach in Lesbos, and the refugee camp in Calais. Sky Movies also trialled the technology at the recent premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving a unique view of the red carpet.

    In the coming months, Sky VR Studio will create brand new, exclusive VR content across all genres, including:

    •A unique perspective on heavyweight boxing, taking viewers inside the ring as Anthony Joshua bids for a world title
    •Following Team Sky as they set their sights on retaining their Tour de France crown
    •Plus further exclusive VR content across a range of news, arts and entertainment programming

    Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content at Sky, commented: “The Sky VR Studio allows us to add a new dimension to storytelling, taking viewers to extraordinary places and offering a unique perspective on a whole host of events. The development of VR technology is moving at an incredible pace and excitement is building about its potential. Our expertise across a wide range of video content, from original drama to live sport, gives us a unique ability to bring VR to life for customers. This is just the start and we’re looking forward to creating more amazing VR content and exploring the possibilities with our tech and content partners.”

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