MORE DIGITAL DESTINATIONS
Standing at a jaw-dropping 29,029ft, Mount Everest is, of course, the highest mountain in the world. Now you can make the gruelling ascent without the assistance of bottled oxygen, all the while munching on a pack of Hula Hoops if you fancy.
To effortlessly achieve this oncein-a-lifetime climb, you’ll need to strap on an Oculus Quest VR headset and tune into Oculus TV’s Everest VR: Journey To The Top Of The World (free, Oculus Quest from £399, Oculus Go from £189). The three-part VR docuseries will give you a 360-degree first-person perspective of one of the most dangerous journeys in the world.
But how was it constructed? Captured in immersive 8K stereoscopic 360 over the course of three years, film-maker Jonathan Griffith and climber Ueli Steck, alongside a small team of adventurers, carried multiple stereoscopic 360 cameras, rigging and other kit from the Alps all the way to Everest’s summit. Faced with many challenging set-ups, they used the Yi Halo and a 17-camera circular array, as well as the Z CAM V1 and V1 Pro cameras, to bring together a huge amount of footage.
You won’t get 8K visuals because the Oculus headsets don’t support it but when you’re staring into the depths of a crevasse, avoiding avalanches or just gawping at the beauty of the French Alps and Himalayan mountains, the high level of detail can’t be ignored.
The 360-degree visuals give you a sense of the scale and steepness of the climb, not to mention the unparalleled danger and strenuous physical effort it takes to accomplish it.
Post-climb, the footage was edited, graded and stitched together with DaVinci Resolve Studio and Fusion Studio. The former ensured footage was honest and true-to-life, while the latter handled the more intense stitching work from stereoscopic alignment fixes, motion graphics and rig removal, to stabilisation, stereo correction and reorienting 360 imagery.
While the experience can’t mimic the crunch of snow under your boots, you do get to soak in some stunning footage of a place most of us will never get to see in person.
If you want to turn up the graphics a notch, Memoria: Stories Of La Garma (£4.56) for the HTC Vive face furniture family, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets is a great shout.
Set in Paleolithic-era Spain, the experience allows you to explore cave paintings and bone artefacts that remained untouched and undisturbed for thousands of years – until they were discovered recently, mapped and captured for VR with millimetric precision using laser scanners and photogrammetry.
Given that only 50 people have have entered the caves in the last 16,000 years, we’re going to bet that this is your only shot at seeing what’s inside.
National Geographic has added Peru’s Machu Picchu – one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century – as a digital destination in its Explore VR Oculus
Quest app (£7.99). The team behind it spent two weeks taking more than 25,000 snaps to bring a photorealistic experience to this interactive expedition and the end result is a truly immersive threedimensional environment.
When you’re done there, pop over to Antarctica and step into the shoes of a National Geographic explorer. Navigate around icebergs in a kayak using controllers or climb a massive ice shelf and search for a lost penguin colony – all while still being able to feel your fingers and toes.
The nature enthusiasts also launched another YouTube documentary series called Into Water. It features explorers venturing into places such as Iceland’s glaciers and Indonesia’s coral reefs that can be enjoyed on a compatible VR headset, including Google’s cheap-as-chips cardboard headset (£12.30), as well as on your computer or smartphone. While you’re there, check out the BBC Natural History Unit’s 360-degree 3D videos, which include one that takes in diving with giant manta rays in Mexico.
And if you fancy having a peep at what’s been happening around the world, When We Stayed Home (free) is a series of VR documentaries for the Oculus Quest and Go, created in partnership with Unesco and captured by city locals who walk you through what the world was like on pause. Cities on display include Venice, Paris, Tokyo and Jerusalem.