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Sky is aiming to become the home of high-quality virtual reality (VR) content with the launch of a brand new app, Sky VR. The app, available now for anyone to download for free, showcases a range of immersive, 360-degree videos from Sky, and the best content from Sky’s partners including Star Wars: Red Carpet, Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion and clips from Disney’s The Jungle Book.
To coincide with the app’s launch, Sky is also revealing two brand new VR experiences: Sky Sports: Closer featuring David Beckham. And, coming later this autumn, the first of a series of Sky exclusive commissions – a performance from English National Ballet’s production of Giselle ahead of its forthcoming UK tour
In his second piece of VR content for Sky Sports, David Beckham is seen entering a Sky VR simulator, which takes him and the viewer to visit the world’s best sports events at the touch of a button. The footage was created in-house by the Sky VR Studios, in collaboration with Google. Viewers will feel like they are trackside at Silverstone or have ringside seats watching Anthony Joshua.
“It was great to work with Sky and Google on this film to launch the new Sky Virtual Reality app,” said Beckham. “The team from the Sky VR studio came up with an incredible concept that shows the range of sport Sky offers. Being able to take other sports fans on a journey into some of the world’s biggest sporting events was a unique opportunity.”
At the other end of the creative spectrum, viewers can access an immersive re-imagining of a performance from English National Ballet’s production of Giselle, which will be available later in October.
In addition to Giselle, Sky will commission a series of high-end VR experiences, under the Sky VR Exclusives label. Produced both in-house by the Sky VR Studios and with third-party partners, the series will build on the commitment to create VR content. This includes Sky News – US Elections and Tutankhamun’s Tomb –The Search for Nefertiti.
The first version of the app will give viewers a 360-degree video experience. Sky will be adding more to the app over the coming months, introducing more immersive VR features to improve the experience. Plus, to bring the full immersive experience of 360-video to as many people as possible, Sky will be giving away thousands of Google Cardboards to people visiting Sky Backstage at The O2 from 20 October. This forms part of Sky’s commitment to virtual reality and its ongoing relationship with Google.
At launch, the Sky VR app will be home to around twenty different pieces of 360-degree video content from Sky, Disney, Fox Innovation Lab, Warner Brothers, Baobab Studios, Jaunt, Innerspace and Surround Vision.
Content highlights in the app at launch include:
“Interest in VR content is building, generating more excitement every day,” noted Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content at Sky. “We are just at the beginning of our VR journey at Sky, launching Sky VR studios earlier this year and we are already breaking new ground. Now comes the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging story-telling. I am a big believer.”
“Great storytelling from Sky, in VR, for free on YouTube, and all accessible through Google Cardboard – a winning combination,” declared Stephen Nuttall, Senior Director at Google and YouTube. “Whether you’re passionate for sports or Beckham (or both!), this great partnership enables wonderful VR experiences for all to enjoy.”
Sky has been building its expertise in VR for a number of years. In 2013, the company invested in Jaunt, a US-based company pioneering cinematic virtual reality and will be sharing some content with their offering. Since then, Sky has been carrying out testing across a range of events including an interview in VR with David Beckham and Kirsty Gallacher, which saw him select his top three Premier League goals.
The app is available to download on a compatible mobile from Google Play or the App Store. The app will let anyone watch immersive Virtual Reality content on a Smartphone either in conjunction with a Google Cardboard headset or in 2D (360 degrees) without a headset. The app will also work when using Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift.