Advanced Television

White Spark Pictures announces VR film narrated by Cox

November 23, 2021

White Spark Pictures, the award-winning Australian production company established by Briege Whitehead, is pleased to announce the completion of its latest Virtual Reality (VR) documentary project – Beyond the Milky Way – about one of the biggest-ever scientific endeavours in human history – the SKA, the world’s largest radio telescopes.

The 25-minute VR film, narrated by professor Brian Cox (Universe), will have its world premiere at the WA Museum Boola Bardip in Perth, opening to the public on 11th December.

Beyond the Milky Way was shot at the remote site in Western Australia where the SKA-Low Telescope will be constructed, and takes audiences on a tour of CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory (MRO) and out into the Universe through the eyes of the people using the world-class instruments already at the observatory, the astronomers who will use the SKA in the future, and the Wajarri Yamaji traditional landowners.

The construction of the SKA telescopes is being billed as one of the world’s greatest-ever scientific endeavours. When completed, the SKA will be a virtual time machine, allowing us to see further back in time than ever before to understand how our Universe came to be, and giving humanity its best-ever chance of discovering if there is other life out there. As well as the upcoming SKA project, audiences will experience two of the telescopes already at the MRO; SKA precursors the Murchison Widefield Array and the ASKAP radio telescope.

Filmed with specialised 360-degree cameras capable of extreme resolution, Beyond the Milky Way will provide audiences with a unique immersive experience. It is expected to play in a wide range of museums and other theatrical venues in Australia ahead of launching internationally. Beyond the Milky Way is White Spark’s second VR film. Its first, the award-winning The Antarctica Experience, is one of the most commercially successful VR documentaries of all time, and ranks within the top 10 highest grossing Australian documentaries to date.

Beyond the Milky Way received principal production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screenwest and Lotterywest. It is financed with support from Australia’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), CSIRO – Australia’s national science agency, the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre, Scitech and Inspiring Australia, SKA Observatory (SKAO), ASTRO 3D – the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions and Western Australian Museum. The film is being represented internationally by Wild Thring Media.

Briege Whitehead, founder and creative director at White Spark Pictures says: “The SKA is a ground-breaking, truly international project, and I am honoured that these leading

scientific institutions have put their trust in me to share their endeavours with the world. This new immersive VR film will allow a wide range of people to virtually experience this landmark project before construction begins, and look into the future at its immense potential. It will also give people a chance to explore a remote and extraordinary part of the world which few will ever visit.”

Alex West, head of documentary at Screen Australia comments: “Having proven its ability to engage audiences with the very successful The Antarctica Experience, we are excited to support White Spark’s new project Beyond the Milky Way, which is set to take audiences to the far reaches of the universe, and I’m confident will leave them with an unforgettable experience.”

“The VR format has developed into an exciting and innovative way to tell screen stories in WA. We’re pleased to be supporting White Spark’s second VR documentary, following on from the success of The Antarctica Experience,” says Paul Williams, documentary manager, Screenwest.

Alec Coles, chief executive officer at the Western Australian Museum adds: “We are thrilled to be working with Briege and White Spark Pictures again. The Antarctica Experience was a huge success, giving thousands of visitors the chance to experience the wonders of Antarctica through an incredible cinematic VR experience. Beyond the Milky Way takes us deep into space to explore the formation of the Universe. The SKA may be an international collaboration, but the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory, which is such a critical part of it, is right here in WA. It is a story that features prominently in the WA Museum Boola Bardip, and so it is totally appropriate that Beyond the Milky Way should be launched here.

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