• Lucy Highton

Immersive VR takes Tribeca Film Festival by storm

"It feels like I'm floating in the water on a jellyfish... oh goodness we're rising to a layer of the surface that's filled with plastic pollution. I see water bottles and spoons and tennis balls."

Sandy Kenyon, abc7 News Reporter, on the VR experience 'Drop in the Ocean'.

Produced by Washington DC based Conservation International and London company Vision3,  'Drop in the Ocean' is a groundbreaking immersive VR experience that has taken The Tribeca Film Festival by storm following its premiered, by bringing a new perspective to a global problem.


Inspiration came in part from Vision3 founder Chris Parks, whose father spent 50 years studying plankton. Chris saw it as an opportunity to reimagine his Dad's work and create a groundbreaking experience around the pollution of our oceans.


The creators wanted to take away the burden usually associated with tracking - wearing markers or holding technology - so London tech company Target3D came onboard to provide this cutting-edge tracking system.


Using an array of 12 RGB video cameras and The Captury Live - an extremely intelligent piece of computer vision and AI software created a system to take 12 video feeds, learn what is a human and track them by looking at colour pixel information,  meaning users need only wear a headset.


A Drop in the Ocean is a playful 10-minute social VR adventure. Shrunk down to about 2 inches tall, participants hitch a ride on a jellyfish as they encounter the mysteries of the deep and experience the plastic pollution crisis from the viewpoint of sea life. Up to four participants then team up to swipe away at the plastic debris that surrounds them.


"We had to be the first to combine the latest HP Reverb headset, using the headsets ‘inside-out’ tracking, with our computer vision twelve camera skeletal tracking," Target3D Co-Founder Ashley Keeler explains, "then integrate both of those with show control to drive the unity experience."


"The problem was there was no one to talk to - no help pages to read - as we were probably the first people to do this. We were seriously pushing the boundaries. There was a safe option which we could have gone with but we decided to try and pull it out the bag. As such I've had about 4 hours sleep in two weeks! But seeing the reactions we got, it was worth it. 'Drop in the Ocean' was far the most adventurous VR experience at Tribeca Film Festival."


The animator, writer and director of "Madagascar", Eric Darnell said to abc7ny news: "That's what's so cool about VR right now," he said. "Nobody knows what they're doing. It's a brand new medium. It's not just an extension of film. It's its own thing, and there's an entire language to discover. And so I feel like a kid again."


See A Drop in the Ocean on YouTube:

Talk to Target3D, the UK's VR experts about getting your next creative off the ground.

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