Across the VR Universe: Felix & Paul Studios and 'Space Explorers'

"We are entering a new era that can be intimately experienced through the medium of virtual reality."
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Space Explorers: A New Dawn is a new experiential virtual reality series about the new age of space exploration Felix & Paul Studios. Viewers witness firsthand the lives of both new and veteran NASA astronauts including Sunita Williams, Jeanette Epps, Victor Glover and Jessica Meir as they navigate the trials and sacrifices of their training and missions.

The series explores the dynamics of camaraderie among space programs around the world and the collaboration between public and private space agencies, and highlights the latest advancements and plans for deep space exploration. Space Explorers: A New Dawn shines a light on mankind's most ambitious journey to understand our planet, our galaxy, our universe and our origins.

"When it comes to storytelling in VR, Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël are among the most celebrated explorers, uncovering artistic and technical tricks that help immersive content creators progress further," writes Laura Mingail. "And there is no more extreme example of exploration, than those that choose to venture beyond the Earth's atmosphere. To read the full article, click here

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"Space Explorers: A New Dawn celebrates the wonders of space exploration, enabling viewers to experience the intense work, planning and personal sacrifices that go into every astronaut's space mission," Lajeunesse says. "With the rise of national space programs around the world, the collaboration between NASA and private space companies and the ambitions of deep space exploration, we are entering a new era that can be intimately experienced through the medium of virtual reality." 

Lajeunesse continues, "Every single VR project we have ever done was a significant learning experience—an occasion to refine our craft; develop new technologies; experiment with new processes, formats, and genres; and further explore how to nurture presence through storytelling. In that sense, every new project we make is built on the foundation of what we have created prior.

"In Space Explorers, we faced significant technical challenges like placing the VR camera in the cockpit of a supersonic jet and working with NASA engineers to annihilate vibrations, submerging the VR camera underwater for hours and controlling it from a distance, filming in a desert sandstorm, and capturing two rocket launches up-close without destroying our gear. Mainly thanks to the depth of the experience of our VR camera team [acquired over the past four years of intensive cinematic VR production], we always found a way to get the shots." To read the full article, click here.

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"During the process, the team had to continuously tweak its production technology," Janko Roettgers explains. "One of the scenes takes the viewer along as astronauts fly in a fighter jet to get used to operating in a spacecraft-like environment. However, getting a 360 camera working in a jet in mid-air wasn't easy, recalls Raphaël. 'We collaborated with NASA's engineers to secure and stabilize that shot.'

"Another challenge came up during shots for the second episode, which captured rocket launches from an Eastern European launchpad up close. 'One of our cameras half-melted,' adds Lajeunesse." To read the full article, click here

Raphaël tells Mingail, "Our goal was never simply to get a 3D 360-degree shot, but to really immerse the viewer in a way that they felt they were truly there. Navigating the technical and logistical challenges and unpredictability of these extreme scenarios while getting that right shot pushed us to our limits." To read the full article, click here.

 "In the coming years, VR and AR will increasingly impact how we think of stories, how we tell them, and how we engage with them," Lajeunesse says. I've been a long-time believer that 'immersion' is an inevitable step in the evolution of storytelling and media.

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"The mediums of VR and AR (we differentiate them for now, but in a few years we no longer will) position the human being at the heart of the digital experience and allow for an interaction with the digital world that's a natural extension of how we interact and engage with physical reality through our senses. The feeling of presence—a state of mind that humans have been experiencing in the 'real world' for ages—can now be felt and experienced through a digital medium. In my mind, there's no version of those emerging mediums failing. It is clearly where things are meant to go." To read the full article, click here.

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