Gardner Creative Commissioned for Ground Greaking 360 Degree VR Video of USA Women’s Eight Olympic Team

Gardner Creative, the virtual reality creative agency based in London, was commissioned to produce three assets for the American publication Sports Illustrated: an interactive 360° image with video interview hotspots, a 360° video, and a team portrait. All of these come together to offer an incredibly immersive experience, giving viewers a unique never-seen-before insight into the USA Women’s Eight Olympic team and how they prepare for the upcoming Olympics.


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The interactive 360° image is part of Sports Illustrated’s content in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Set in the prestigious C. Bernard Shea Rowing Centre at Princeton University, the interactive 360° image puts the viewer in the incredible boathouse surrounded by the rowing team. On each team member is a hotspot which the user can click on to see a video interview – a ground breaking piece of 360° content for Sports Illustrated. Never before have users been able to get so close to the crew and the boats, and get a real insight into how the team prepares for the Olympics.

Simple Guide on How To Watch and Interact W/ YouTube 360 Degree Video

From computer

YouTube supports playback of 360 videos from the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera browsers. Safari is not supported.

From mobile and tablets

To watch and interact with YouTube 360 videos, be sure to you have updated your device with the latest version of the app. For viewing YouTube videos, you will want to copy the video title name below:

Ride along with Team USA’s women’s 8 rowing team | 360° Video | Sports Illustrated

Then open the YouTube app, and paste into the search box.

For an immersive experience, you can watch 360 degree videos with Cardboard via the YouTube app. Once the 360 video is launched, simply click the Cardboard icon on the lower right corner and insert phone into the Cardboard.

To complement the interactive 360° image there was also a 360° video produced. This was of the team on one of their training sessions. Shot on Lake Carnegie, the GoPro multi-camera rig required a specially constructed carbon fibre support to minimise vibrations from the boat. The 360° video is world first material as it provides the closest experience of riding on-board with the USA Women’s Eight Olympic team in full flow. The resulting footage provides a unique and dynamic perspective for the viewer.

Drew Gardner, who was the creative lead for this project, said: “mounting 360° camera rigs has become something of a speciality for the Gardner Creative team; we have had huge success with our unique mounting system which allows the viewer to access places where no human can go. The 360 video from the boat illustrates just how powerful a tool it is for storytelling. You’re actually ‘on’ the boat when Coxswain Katelin Snyder gets the news that her fiancé Nareg Guregian and his team mates Anders Weiss have been selected for the USA team rowing pairs at Rio. This was not a setup it was totally spontaneous”.

Drew further remarked that “what makes this project so very special is that it was conceived from the very outset to be a true multi-platform project. Bringing together a 360° still, 360° video and print project – something that would work well on every outlet for Sports Illustrated. Creatively using a combination of these different mediums we were able to give a unique behind-the-scenes insight into the team. We really ‘pushed the boat out’ with this project; delivering something that simply cannot be achieved using traditional techniques.”

The portrait, which is being used for the Sports Illustrated magazine and as a lead-in image for the 360° content online, features all of the Women’s Eight rowing team stood on the edge of the beautiful Lake Carnegie. It the past magazines such as Sports Illustrated would be limited to a high quality portrait image like this as its main feature. The fact that this portrait image is now only being used as a lead-in to an immersive online content feature shows how industry is evolving.

This project represents the continuing need for print publications, such as Sports Illustrated, to diversify their attention away from traditional magazines and onto producing interactive online content. This interactive content enables a more immersive and richer experience than what could ever be achieved in a conventional magazine. With large platforms such as YouTube and Facebook heavily supporting 360° media it has never been easier to create, publicise and share this content throughout the internet. This is where the industry is going and Sports Illustrated are leading the way, commissioning projects that bring the viewer ever closer to sport.

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About Gardner Creative

Founded in 2003, Gardner Creative built an incredible reputation for producing extremely high-quality photos and videos for some of the world’s biggest brands. In 2012 the business diversified into producing virtual reality media. Taking traditional techniques and combining them with the latest in 360° technology, the company is renowned for transforming a simple idea into elegant and beautiful content that engages viewers.

Internationally acclaimed photographer Drew Gardner is the creative force behind the company, based just outside London in Hertfordshire. He leads a team of talented photographers, videographers, producers, developers, editors and retouchers. Additionally, each project is managed efficiently and smoothly thanks to Lucinda Marland with her extensive project management experience.

Author: VR Reporter

I am a hi-tech enthusiast, VR evangelist, and a Co-founder & Chief Director at Virtual Reality Reporter!

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