Space Explorers: The ISS Experience is a multi-part VR documentary from Felix & Paul Studios and TIME that lets you see what life is like aboard the International Space Station. The first two episodes transport you to the rarefied air of the ISS interior, however the studios today announced that they’ve begun filming episodes three and four outside of the ISS, letting you virtually experience the edge of space via 3D, 360 video.

Exterior scenes are being filmed by Felix & Paul’s customized virtual reality ‘Outer Space Camera’, making it the first such attempt to capture 3D, 360 video using the ISS as a space-based camera dolly. Those scenes are slated to be featured in Episode 3 Unite (coming fall 2021) and Episode 4 Expand (coming winter 2021).

The series is an Oculus exclusive, offering VR support across Rift, Quest and Quest 2 via the Oculus Store. Here’s a view from the ISS Cupola to give you an idea what it might be like looking out at the pale blue dot sans air.

The studio says its custom-fitted ‘Outer Space Camera’ is built on a Z-Cam V1 Pro camera consisting of nine 4K sensors allowing for a 3D, a 360-degree image at 8K resolution.

It’s also been “specially hardened” by the company Nanoracks to withstand a host of conditions including the vacuum of space, solar ultraviolet radiation, ionizing radiation, plasma, surface charging and arcing, temperature extremes, thermal cycling… the list goes on.

a look at a 360, 3D camera used in Space Explorers | Image courtesy TIME, Felix & Paul Studios

The Outer Space Camera, which has been attached to the Canadarm2 robotic arm, is built to store around 15 hours of 3D, 360-degree video, complete with custom lenses made to withstand extreme light and heat to minimize flare when directly exposed to the Sun—quite a feat when external temperatures can range from -250° F to +250° F (-155° C to +121° C).

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Felix & Paul is an Emmy Award-winning studio responsible for VR films such as MIYUBI, the Nomads series, Strangers, and The Confessional. The Montreal-based studio has also created several productions for existing franchises such as Jurassic WorldCirque du SoleilWild, and Isle of Dogs. High-profile collaborations have seen VR experiences created for NASA, SpaceX, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, LeBron James, President Bill Clinton, Wes Anderson, Brie Larson, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray.

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If you want to catch the first episodes of Space Explorers in VR, you’ll find them over on the Oculus Store for $3 a piece, each of which take around 30 minutes to watch. They’re also available from select telecoms LGU+ in South Korea, KDDI in Japan, AIS in Taiwan, Orange in France, and Deutsche Telekom in Germany.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Anonmon

    “The series is an Oculus exclusive”
    And thus looses all relevancy. Here’s to hoping Facebook gets broken up and a former Facebook Reality Labs, now Oculus, opens up so this exclusivity nonsense becomes a non issue.

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    • ViRGiN

      Thank God for Facebook exclusives.

      Now pray to your valve lords to make a new tech demo. You’re so enjoying everything but Facebook.

      Why aren’t you fighting and pushing valve to release Alyx on Oculus store?

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      • Anonmon

        The fallacy with trying to flip this, there is no restriction going in the opposite direction. You can use literally whatever (x86_64) VR hardware you like to play Alyx with. Because the problem isn’t the store. I couldn’t give two shits about where the games are coming from, I care about the fact that hardware on PC being arbitrarily locked for shitty reasons.

        Which by extension, any console arguments are null and void. This ain’t the console space, where you put another closed down black or white box under your media center and take whatever the original manufacturer gives you. This is PC. Where the expectation is people don’t pull this bullshit. Or at the very least, if you do pull this bullshit you’re just leaving money on the table because people will work around it and not give you money for the trouble anyway.

        People will make emulators / compatibility layers / ports and fan remakes for anything and everything if people care enough about anything, all on PC with little in the way of arbitrary restrictions. Would be nice if that wasn’t necessary though.

    • shadow9d9

      Do you say this about sony and nintendo who have used exclusivity for decades upon decades?

      Pcvr is dead. No one is funding games for it. This includes valve.

      • jbob4mall

        Because he doesn’t actually care about exclusivity. He only cares when the exclusivity affects him.

  • VRFriend

    I downloaded it from youtube in 8k quality. They did something wrong with lens and there is a weird feeling of wide angle when looking around. Also they did something wrong with disparity. Great attempt, but seriously, somebody should advise them to fix their gear.

    • ViRGiN

      You downloaded YouTube video and put it on quest or something?
      YouTube 360 years slightly different projection. It should look “perfect” when used with YouTube

      • VRFriend

        I use youtube-dl to download the highest possible video quality, side-by-side or top-down. Then play it with player like Whirligig or DeoVR.
        I downloaded 8k quality video and used different VR players to play. I have HP Reverb G2, not Quest.

        • ViRGiN

          If i remember correctly, resolutions over 2k aren’t in any of those formats, but like 6 cubemaps in 2×3 grud, Anna those were difficult to convert back to readable standard format

        • david vincent

          A shame YT videos often shows a lot of compression artefacts, which are glaring viewed in VR.

          • VRFriend

            To be honest, these 8k videos from youtube are really acceptable.

          • Sofian

            Have you tried to run it with Revive? Noticed a difference?

  • Sofian

    Works fine on a Reverb g2 with Steam and Revive.