Oculus VR and BBC Earth, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s own natural history producer, have announced a new partnership. The first order of business: three VR experiences based on the lives of three different animals, Black Bears, the Caracal Cat, and an Oogpister Beetle.

BBC Worldwide says that all three virtual reality experiences will be released separately on Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR platforms this January and will be available free to download for the first three months.

Cat Flight, featuring the jumping prowess of the Caracal Cat, will integrate computer generated imagery (CGI) into 360 degree video. Giving you the ability to “freeze the Caracal mid-jump and adjust the zoom,” Cat Flight will teach users about just how they survive in the wild.

image courtesy BBC Earth
image courtesy BBC Earth

Oogie, based on the Oogpister Beetle, is an interactive game constructed from real life footage from BBC Earth that follows the African beetle through the Savannah. Users will need to guide the beetle to safety, avoiding hazards, obstacles, and deadly predators.

Bear Island is an interactive 360 video that follows Black Bears on their journey to the banks of an Alaskan river. Users will be able to jump between different perspectives and parallel storylines to learn more about how Black Bears live and feed.

David Attenborough's 'First Life' is a Virtual Reality Documentary for Gear VR

Julia Kenyon, Global Brands Director for BBC Worldwide said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Oculus to give audiences a completely different insight into the natural world. By allowing users to immerse themselves in the environments of these three animals, we are hoping to bring people rich and unforgettable adventures different from any traditional natural history series.’’

These three VR experiences mark BBC Worldwide’s first step into creating virtual reality content, maintaining that there will be more to come.

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  • DiGiCT Ltd

    The term VR video is rather not good to use, just call it 360 degree video as you dont really need a VR device for it too see, it works also via web players on a 2d screen.

    If you would like to say VR video you need to go more into products like “the rose and I”
    VR has nothing to do with 360 degree videos and I would never call it VR as it is misleading.

    • AndyP

      360 degree video on a 2D screen in comparison to a VR headset is like comparing apples and orangutans! Immersion?!

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        Not realy, its still easy to see its all just a video compared to VR.
        Video is far away from wghat VR supposed to be.
        There is also not realy interaction with the environment, which makes it just a simple new way of video watching.

        • AndyP

          Looking at the BBC website – it isn’t just 360 video. They say, amongst other things, they are using a combination of CGI and video and describe it as: “These virtual-firsts from BBC Earth not only allow the user to take a closer look at the animals, but experience what it is like to inhabit their world”. The BBC has a long history of cutting edge wildlife documentaries, so wait and see…

    • Texazzpete

      1. You didn’t read the article

      2. 360 video in 3d, with surround (directional) audio is every bit as immersive as the low poly games we play in VR.

      3. Reading this shit is as annoying as those guys who pop up to whine about how a DJI quadcopter “isn’t really a drone”.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        No idea what you talking about you are way off topic.
        Have a nice day in your helicopter ;)

  • Ian Shook

    Such a waste to create 360 video like this. It would be great it immerge or lidar video was used. I’ve never liked 360 video, even 360 stereo video.

  • Pavlin Stoychev

    Why is the publicly funded BBC making Oculus exclusives?

  • squirrelrevolution

    True VR Video is not 360 degree video. True VR Video is stereoscopic 360 degree video. The difference is regular 360 degree video has no depth to it (which is why it looks fine on a 2d screen) and you feel like your looking at images painted on the inside of a sphere in VR. Stereoscopic video or stereoscopic 360 degree video has depth to it that can only be appreciated in VR.

    • VirtualBro

      Dude, stereoscopic 360 video is better than mono 360 video, but it’s not so much better that it deserves the title “VR video” more. Neither one of them lets you move around from side to side, they both have major nausea-induction properties, and nobody’s figured out how to tell a compelling long-form story in that format. (Or in the form of immersive 3D holocaps, while we’re at it, unless you count a live stage performance)

      • squirrelrevolution

        So what should the term “VR video” be defined as? I think Stereoscopic 360 degree video in my mind is VR video, as you can not appreciate stereoscopic video (if it’s 360 or not) unless you are using a VR headset. And I am just not speaking of this as in theory. I work as a Network Admin I have had a DK2, and I currently own a Vive, Oculus (minus the Move controllers) and a PSVR. 360 degree video in VR is meh but, stereoscopic video in VR can be pretty awesome (although they are not common as of yet). What you speak of “VR video” where you can move around is impossible unless the video is live and attached to a rumba that moves in real time as you move around your VR space (I imagine video lag would make this not a reality anyways). The only real way to do what your described would be in an animated form not video.

        As for nausea the DK2 was a barf machine.

        The PSVR, Oculus, and Vive very rarely cause me an discomfort. And if they do it’s usually due to poor content and not poor hardware.

        • VirtualBro

          You can capture video from every angle using a bunch of beefed-up Kinects, it’s not as bad as you might think. Actually I used to feel that only a fully-immersive scene you can walk around in warrants the “vr video” name, but then I cobbled together some Kinects and captured a bunch of video with them, and realized it really isn’t that much better than a regular 360 video.

          Not sure what more we can argue about though, either you think 360 stereoscopic video is far superior to regular 360 video or you don’t, and I don’t. haha.

          (off topic: Trying to fall back on your credentials to justify your argument on the internet just doesn’t work. As an experienced internets troll, I strongly recommend against that approach! Unless you’re John Carmack or Pre-Nerf Palmer Luckey)

          • squirrelrevolution

            LOL, thanks for reminding me why I don’t post on the Internets. I once read on the Internet that everything that is posted on the internet is 100% true!
            Now if you excuse me I am going to find an in life real person to talk/argue with. So at the very least if we disagree, We can beat the piss out of each other until one of us becomes right!

  • VirtualBro

    This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to see the results. I’ve had a blast with all the nature-themed 360 videos I’ve seen so far

  • JSM21

    And how long are these videos? Are they short like all the other 360 videos?