Atlantic Productions has partnered with Meta Platforms to host an impressive immersive experience highlighting climate change’s effects on the Galapagos Islands.

Using stereoscopic 180-degree cinematography, Atlantic Productions will leverage Meta’s extended reality (XR) technologies for the award-winning series Galapagos with Sir David Attenborough, legendary British Biologist, Documentarian, Historian, and Broadcaster.

Atlantic has filmed several BAFTA-winning films in XR and has gained extensive experience in creating virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) documentaries. Previously, the production company created the acclaimed film David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef and digitally twinned the wreckage of the RMS Titanic, shortly after releasing its celebrated film Back to the Titanic.

The Hammersmith, London-based company has also partnered with some of the world’s biggest tech and media firms, including Apple, National Geographic, Google, Sony, Meta Platforms, Sky, IMAX, Intel, and many others.

Additionally, the documentary series comes just a month after Meta debuted its Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset at the Connect Event in late September. The new MR device offers stellar true-colour passthrough, a Snapdragon XR2 processor, and advanced hand and eye tracking solutions, among many other features.

Galapagos Ecosystems Meet XR Solution Ecosystems

The globally acclaimed series will also feature Quill Illustration’s 3D painting and animation solutions to showcase the series’ immersive depiction of the storyline, allowing audiences to experience the documentary with fully engaging, captivating 3D content.

For Atlantic Productions, its venture into virtual reality (VR) filmmaking has gained over 3.2 million views on Meta Quest TV—an astounding new level of engagement in the XR entertainment space. Hosting the three-part series on Meta Quest TV has also allowed younger generations to receive access to spatial entertainment, providing a massive use case for the Meta Quest 3, which debuted in late September.

To capture the negative effects of climate change and warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean, or El Niño, the experience incorporated Atlantic Productions 8K, 180-degree immersive video streaming along with third-order ambisonics, using technologies in partnership with audio experts Q Department.

With the Meta Quest 3, the seamless, enveloping audiovisual experience is further enhanced with the Menlo Park-based firm’s next-generational head-mounted display (HMD). Additionally, Atlantic’s work with VR art form Quill captures the spirit of the docuseries’ mission to lead in immersive filmmaking technologies.

Furthermore, the series includes Created, a further immersive art medium, with a female-led team of global artists leading the creative content. Designers include US-based Lebanese-Palestinian artist Samia Khalaf, Ireland-based Romanian artist Ruxandra Popescu, and Swiss artist Zoe Röllin. With their expertise in immersive content, Atlantic has realised the full potential of XR technologies in the entertainment industry.

Quill as a visual storytelling medium has also expanded greatly in the XR community, allowing virtual reality artists like Dan Franke to create the series intro. This has also contributed tremendously to XR workflows, leading to new levels of creative content for video production and cinematography.

The Galapagos with David Attenborough will debut exclusively in virtual reality on Meta Quest TV on 21 November this year.

Speaking on the Galapagos, which lies 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, Sir David commented that the small group of islands had “revealed in microcosm the processes that have shaped all life on Earth.”

The acclaimed filmmaker added: “Unlike many other tropical islands elsewhere, 95 [percent] of Galapagos biodiversity still survives. But only just. We have the chance to bring back the full glory of this fragile ecosystem.”

Eric Cheng, Head of Immersive Media, Meta, said in a statement,

“VR experiences transport viewers to another place more effectively than similar footage on flat screens, and when I am experiencing the VR footage in Galapagos with David Attenborough, it’s a visceral reminder of what it is like to actually be on the islands. The underwater moments in particular are especially effective, as that sort of immersive environment—one that really surrounds a person—lends itself well to representation in VR”

Additionally, Anthony Geffen, Chief Executive, Atlantic Productions, added,

“The Galapagos  a very special place for David Attenborough. He wanted to use the latest 3D technology to bring audiences to its extraordinary ecosystem and animals. This film also uses some of the latest visual effects and Quill to shed light on the hidden forces that have built and shaped the Galapagos”

Additional Milestones in Stereoscopic Filmmaking

The documentary comes after another milestone immersive experience with Sir David—The Green Planet Augmented Reality (AR) Experience—debuted in London’s iconic Piccadilly Circus.

The groundbreaking exhibition featured Sir David’s commentary, created with a real-time 3D (RT3D), digitally-twinned replica of the biologist. The immersive experience opened to the public with EE’s private 5G networking technologies, along with Samsung Galaxy mobiles, and additional tools like cloud and edge computing.

At the time, XR Today interviewed executives from Factory 42, the company orchestrating and creating the public immersive masterpiece. John Cassy, Chief Executive and Founder, Stephen Stewart, Chief Technology Officer, and Jamie Davies, Creative Director, explained both their vision and extended reality technologies behind the BBC-inspired exhibition.

Furthermore, pioneering filmmakers like Gary Yost, Co-Director, WisdomVR Project, explored the use of stereoscopic 360-degree filmmaking with a cutting-edge Z Cam v1 camera. The device uses a radial array of 10 cameras with a 190-degree field of view (FoV) each, filming objects in full stereoscopic visuals 18 inches or further away from the device.

Yost moved into filmmaking after founding and leading the Yost Group, the company that created Autodesk 3D studio (3DS Max), with the filmmaking venture becoming the WisdomVR Project. His documentary, Inside Covid-19, received international praise and an Emmy nomination in 2021 for its cinematography, depiction of the COVID-19 pandemic, and use of emerging technologies.

Additionally, Alan Bucharia, Director of Advanced Imaging, Media Monks and a trailblazer in stereoscopic filmmaking, also unveiled his documentary This is Bike Life using a Canon EOS VR system.

With the novel, advanced 360-degree filming system, Bucharia aimed to show how Canon’s solution could democratise filmmaking for aspiring and veteran directors. The camera can shoot in 180-degree or 360-degree, 8K footage with affordable pricing.

He told XR Today in an interview that the EOS VR system provided footage to filmmakers and directors to export directly to Adobe Premiere for stitching and editing, saving filmmakers “a lot of time and money.”