NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM PRESENTS ITS FIRST VIRTUAL REALITY ADVENTURE: “THEBLU: AN UNDERWATER VR EXPERIENCE” DIVES INTO OCEAN HABITATS
“In the virtual reality experience from Wevr participants journey down to coral reefs, then interact with an 80-foot whale and other awe-inspiring ocean species”
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) presents theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience, a deeply immersive virtual reality series that allows audiences to explore the wonder and majesty of the ocean through different habitats and come face-to-face with some of the most awe-inspiring species on the planet. The VR series was created by Wevr, a Venice, California-based VR studio.
Highlights of the three environments in the 6-minute experience include: an encounter with an 80-foot blue whale as it swims past a sunken ship; a magnificent undersea migration on the edge of a shallow coral reef, with turtles and swarms of jellyfish gliding by, and colorful anemones reacting to the guest’s touch; and a deep dive into the an iridescent abyss, where hidden creatures including angler fish and squid appear with the use of a virtual flashlight.
“The museum has integrated technology and multi-media into our newer exhibits and is now exploring ways to enhance digital engagement with the natural world. This iconic deep dive VR experience from Wevr brings us to a new level of interactivity—and our visitors come along for the ride,” said Dr. Lori Bettison-Varga, NHMLA Director and President. “Engaging and inspiring visitors is what we do—and theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience is beautiful, powerful storytelling. It would not surprise me if the next generation of marine biologists—and VR developers—are inspired by this exhibit.”
theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience is directed by Jake Rowell (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Superman Returns), and has already been recognized as one the most iconic room scale VR experiences to date (a Sundance Film Festival 2016 New Frontiers selection). Wevr’s team consulted with museum scientists during the making of theBlu to help inform the creative process. “TheBlu: An Underwater VR Experience has become an icon in the VR community, and is both immensely engaging and informative. We are delighted that the Natural History Museum is hosting this immersive simulation that we know will captivate visitors of all backgrounds and age groups,” says Wevr co-founder and CEO Neville Spiteri.
Visitors to theBlu: An Underwater VR Experience begin their journey in a lounge area inside the museum gallery space, where they are acclimated to the technology ahead amid glowing NHMLA ocean specimens on display and projections of reef footage. They’re then led into five “pods” in the gallery, and assisted as they put on HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Friends and families, at a seating area nearby, can watch the action on a monitor where they can see the user’s interactive underwater experience streaming in real time.
“Here’s what it’s like, from someone who has done a lot of SCUBA diving: It’s fantastic to see all those underwater creatures, and not be underwater and cold—especially the deep-sea chapter, where you couldn't even dive in real life,” says Dr. Chris Thacker, NHMLA Fish Curator. “Users get an up-close look at the animals, particularly the whale and the turtle, and interact with jellyfish and see how they respond. The experience is scientifically accurate and does a good job of replicating what it's like underwater, all while you're just standing there, warm and dry.”
Tickets and Info
Advanced timed-tickets are required and can be purchased online at NHM.org starting February 9. Tickets are $8 for Members and $10 for Non-members. For safety reasons and ability to follow directions, children under age 10 cannot participate. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by adults. Visit www.nhm.org/vr for more information.
About the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is located at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. It is open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm. NHM was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California). The Family of Museums serves more than 1.3 million visitors annually, and is a national leader in research, exhibitions and education.
Wevr creates award-winning VR experiences and are the developers of Wevr Transport™, an independent virtual reality network for VR creators and their audiences. Their flagship title theBlu: Season 1 is a top selling room scale VR title lauded as one of the most popular “must do” experiences. Wevr experiences that were featured at 2016 Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals include theBlu: Whale Encounter, Reggie Watts’ Waves, Irrational Exuberance, Hard World for Small Things, and Old Friend. Other titles include Gnomes & Goblins created with Jon Favreau (co- produced with Reality One), Deepak Chopra’s Finding Your True Self, Run The Jewel’s Crown, Samsung and Skybound Entertainment’s GONE, and Adult Swim’s Virtual Brainload. Wevr was founded by Neville Spiteri, Anthony Batt, and Scott Yara, and is based in Venice, California. To learn more, visit www.wevr.com.