'Supernatural' virtual reality experience on the smartphone

Viewers can experience such an experience at home in virtual reality as the main characters in the new TV series Project Orpheus by AVROTROS. In the TV series, five students travel through medical tests over the edge of death and back. The public can download the virtual reality experience as an app since this week

Viewers can experience such an experience at home in virtual reality as the main characters in the new TV series Project Orpheus by AVROTROS. In the TV series, five students travel through medical tests over the edge of death and back. The public can download the virtual reality experience as an app since this week. Three students from the MediaLAB of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam / Amsterdam Creative Industries Network developed this VR video and the accompanying app.

The international version of the Project Orpheus app has been available via the AppStore and Play Store since this week. The VR experience can be experienced with the headset Occulus Rift or with GoogleCardboard, a cardboard holder that easily transforms your phone into virtual reality glasses.

Wake up in another world
What do you see when you experience the virtual reality experience of Project Orpheus? In 360 degrees around you, also behind you, is a hospital room. A doctor is sitting in white next to you. "Do not be afraid, " he says, filling a syringe.

A moment later you are 'awake' in another world. A blond boy always comes back to this: a spirit appearance. The end of the film leaves the viewer with a 'twist': are you back where you started?

Students as filmmakers
The VR film was made on behalf of AVROTROS by students Peter, Jorrit and Irene of the MediaLAB of the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Creative Industries Network. Peter was the director, Irene was art director and Jorrit led the production.

The students worked together with experts from WeMakeVR and NL Film. They were able to use a camera that films 360 degrees horizontally and vertically, from the professional film studio and lighting, and collaborate with the actors from the series.

Research on 360 degrees film
The cooperation of education with AVROTROS was realized through the research of Mirjam Vosmeer, the coach of the students. Vosmeer is a researcher at the HvA research group Play & Civic Media and the Interaction & Games Lab of the AUAS and the Amsterdam Creative Industries Network (cooperation Inholland, AHK, and HvA).

Vosmeer is conducting research into a new form of storytelling for 360-degree media, a current issue. Dutch companies and broadcasters are in the vanguard worldwide with the development of virtual reality, but are faced with questions. Do you send the viewer's view with hotspots in a certain direction, for example, if you want it to look at something specific? To what extent do you want the viewer to be part of the story (immersion) yourself? Are you illuminating the viewer with a voice-over? Vosmeer charts the do's and don'ts and a new visual language for 360-degree media, and performs user research in collaboration with TU Delft and the UvA.

Virtual reality sometimes 'too intrusive'
For the MediaLAB students who created the app, this project was the first experience with virtual reality. They deliberately shortened the video. Jorrit, student Media Studies at the UvA: 'It is still too intense an experience to undergo longer. It is fierce to be the center of a film yourself. But I think we will get used to that. When the first silent movies were shown, it was also such an overwhelming experience for people. '

The students wrote the short story themselves and made the VR film in collaboration with WeMakeVR, NL Film, AMP.Amsterdam, AVRO-TROS, Amsterdam Creative Industries Network, VondelCS and NPO.