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NYT VR Recreates Past Olympic Moments in 360 Degrees

“Our approach to the stadium recreations really was unique," says producer Graham Roberts.

The New York Times has released a 360-degree VR video called “The Modern Olympic Games” with new footage from current host city Rio de Janeiro, as well as astounding archival recreations using photographs of games dating back to 1896.

“Our approach to the stadium recreations really was unique,” producer Graham Roberts tells UploadVR. “We had to go through our photo archives and make sure we had enough visual data to complete these spheres. We then had to go through all of the projection, mapping, and stitching processes to complete the images.”

The Times enlisted the help of visual effects house The Mill to bring these historic photographs to life by adding texture, depth, and CGI crowds. “It was an exciting prospect to have these iconic photos as our source material,” The Mill’s Eric Chang explains on the VFX house’s website. “They presented interesting questions about distinctions between camera lenses and the human eye. Photography is a subtractive exercise – the photographer’s goal is to isolate exactly what they want the viewer to pay attention to and capture it in a single frame. By contrast, virtual reality is additive. The viewer controls the direction of focus, so as environment-builders we have to account for that. Certain tools essential to photography like focus and vignetting are no longer relevant or effective.”

For the modern footage, cinematographer Evan Grothjan used the GoPro Odyssey camera and Google Jump compiling software.

“The Modern Olympic Games” is available to watch via the NYT VR app or in YouTube 360 (found below). Read the full story here.