David Attenborough may be celebrating his 90th birthday this year, but he is still very much at the cutting edge of natural history production as he presents the BBC's first mixed reality, 360° film.
Produced by a team at Bristol's world famous BBC Natural History Unit, and creative agency Hello Charlie, the four minute film is a mix of computer graphics and live action, where Sir David Attenborough shows you around the biggest dinosaur ever to have walked the planet – a giant titanosaur.
There are often many unknowns in palaeontology, but having so many remarkably well preserved bones allowed for them to be digitally scanned into precise 3D models and assembled into a CGI (computer-generated imagery) dinosaur. In effect, this means the titanosaur you see in the film isn’t just an imagining, but an actual individual brought back to ‘life’.
Unbelievably, given its huge size, the scientists discovered this dinosaur was still growing. It sounds incredible that the titanosaur is, at 37 metres, longer than a blue whale and weighs as much as 15 African elephants (70 tonnes). They’re the sorts of dimensions you simply need to see for yourself and that’s what triggered the idea to produce a 360° immersive experience, where you can stand alongside the titanosaur with Sir David as your own personal guide.
Once again, Attenborough is at the forefront of filming technology. Watch his reaction to the 360° video below.
How to experience the 360° film
'Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur'
There are a number of bespoke or smartphone headsets that provide a truly immersive experience, but the YouTube app on smartphones or tablets is a really good way to see it too.
Using the YouTube app you will be able to look around by moving your screen.
On a desktop, you can navigate by using the arrows in the top left hand side of the video as you watch the 360° film.
Commenting on the film, producer Paul Deane says, "It’s our highest production value 360° film and we hope takes the viewer on a unique journey, with Sir David as host and driver. The sense of scale, particularly when viewed on a headset, can only be achieved in VR (virtual reality)."
Sam Hume, the producer/director adds "In the film you’re transported to a moonlit night some 100 million years ago, when the biggest of all dinosaurs roamed. It was great for us to visualise this astounding animal as it would have been, walking through its natural landscape."
Ordinarily with 360° films, bespoke cameras are used, but as so much of this world is CGI, a large portion of what was filmed would have been redundant. Instead, Sir David was filmed against a green screen, with a wide angle lens on a very high resolution camera filming at 6K. This allowed the film makers to bring him close enough to the viewer without losing quality.
The aim was to make a 360° film that brings this monumentally huge dinosaur to life in an innovative way, and to the widest possible audience. You can watch the 360° film on the BBC website, or via Facebook and YouTube.
There are a number of bespoke or smartphone headsets that provide a truly immersive experience, but the YouTube app on smartphones or tablets is a really good way to see it too. You will be able to look around by moving your screen.
On a desktop, you can navigate by using the arrows in the top left hand side of the video window as you watch the 360° film.