BBC moves into Virtual Reality

New app part of Beeb’s on-going mission to put “early and experimental” ideas in the hands of audiences

Posted 6 July 2017 at 9:12am by

The BBC’s branching out into Virtual Reality (VR), with a new app that immerses the viewer in some compelling content from BBC Three and Planet Earth II.
Available for free on Android and iOS, the move is said to be part of the state broadcaster’s remit to put “early and experimental” ideas in the hands of audiences.
The BBC says it plans to offer a range of content designed to push the limits of virtual reality on mobile devices, including animated VR, interactive 360° videos, dynamic binaural audio and branching narratives, which let users decide where to take the story.

One of the first pieces of VR to be published in the app is a trailer for an upcoming BBC Three feature-length documentary, for example, One Deadly Weekend in America. The VR trailer is a virtual experience about gun crime, placing the viewer right in an American street scene where clips from the documentary play around you.

The app will be regularly updated with new VR experiences over the coming weeks and months, with Andy Conroy, Controller of BBC Research and Development, claiming, “BBC Taster VR gives audiences cutting-edge mobile VR experiences from the BBC and crucially, gives our editorial and technical teams even greater insight.”

The One Deadly Weekend VR trailer was developed by BBC Three in collaboration with virtual reality studio Parable VR. It was commissioned by BBC Three controller Damian Kavanagh, who will be taking on an additional role as editorial lead for BBC Taster, working closely with BBC Research & Development.

BBC Taster VR was developed using technology from EEVO to help BBC teams publish experimental mobile VR experiences to audiences.

Alongside user feedback, the app provides analytics and VR heat maps to show where users are looking while they’re in virtual reality.

This will help BBC developers and editorial teams learn more from their content, helping them to refine storytelling techniques in this emerging medium, the team believes.

BBC Taster describes itself as “the home of new ideas from the BBC”, “a new way to deliver all the freshest ideas and experiments, from across the BBC straight to you”.