From Oculus Dreamdeck and Unimersiv to Robinson: The Journey and beyond, it’s no secret that dinosaurs and VR are a match made in entertainment heaven. Immersive powerhouse Felix & Paul Studios got in on the action in 2015 with the release of Jurassic World: Apatosaurus (available on Oculus Go and Gear VR) and breathed new life and technological advances into the franchise with last month’s release of Jurassic World: Blue Episode 1. Today, we celebrate this week’s 25th anniversary of the original Jurassic Park summer blockbuster with the launch of Jurassic World: Blue Episode 2 on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR!
Both episodes include animation and visual effects from Industrial Light & Magic as well as sound by Headspace Studio. Delivered via a single, continuous shot, each blends live-action and CG for a visually stunning VR experience.
“Integrating live-action filmmaking with visual effects and animation to deliver a seamless, immersive experience for the audience was no easy feat,” notes Felix & Paul Co-Founder & Creative Director Paul Raphaël. “Each unique chapter of Jurassic World: Blue highlights how 3D, 360° experiences can create a visceral, emotional cinematic experience for users.”
In Episode 2, you follow the eponymous Velociraptor in her fight for survival against a volcanic eruption and deadly predators.
“Seeing the fantastic reactions to the first episode means audiences will probably lose their minds when they find themselves in the middle of a dino fight in this next episode,” adds Universal Pictures Creative Content EVP Austin Barker. “All of the hard work by Felix & Paul Studios, ILM, and Oculus has certainly paid off and we couldn’t be happier.”
With the anniversary of the original Jurassic Park’s theatrical release just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to step inside the world of the films and explore Isla Nublar.
“Twenty-five years ago, this franchise broke new ground in cinematic experiences and technical achievements, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see it realized today in VR with the incredible visuals and immersion that Jurassic World: Blue delivers,” says Oculus Head of Experiences Colum Slevin. “With the recent launch of Oculus Go, and both chapters now available across multiple devices, we’re excited that fans around the world will be able to enjoy this iconic series in a whole new way.”
We sat down with Industrial Light & Magic VR Visual Effects Supervisor Khatsho Orfali and VR Animation Lead Maia Kayser to learn more about how the team brought these silver screen dinosaurs to life in VR.
Tell us about your involvement in Jurassic World: Blue Episode 2. What unique techniques did you employ with regards to capture and animation?
Khatsho Orfali + Maia Kayser: The Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) team was a key collaborator from initial concept, plate photography, technical approach, execution, and management of post-production. One technique was camera tracking and stereo solve from Felix & Paul’s custom VR camera rig. We also utilized ILM’s interactive motion capture technology for performance blocking. This process allowed the directors and ILM team to interactively explore camera, story, and performance. It also provided a platform for the animation team to further develop the dinosaurs and enhance their performance.
Any behind-the-scenes details you can share on your process and how you created the dinosaurs involved in the piece?
KO + MK: Creating the dinosaurs involved multiple departments specializing in creature development, all the way to lighting and final plate integration. Our process used ILM’s pipeline and proprietary tools from motion capture through animation, flesh simulations, and corrective shapes, with the same level of detail applied in feature films.
What was it like to collaborate with Felix & Paul Studios?
KO + MK: The strong creative background from both ILM and Felix & Paul quickly enabled a great working relationship. Both teams where passionate about maintaining a high bar throughout the project.
How (if at all) did you draw upon ILMxLAB’s previous experience working in VR? How does this new piece help pave the way toward your future work in this space?
KO + MK: ILMxLAB’s portfolio of VR projects allowed us to draw from a pool of talent and information to efficiently manage technical obstacles. This enabled the ILM team to break new grounds on such things as plate solves for 360° true stereo views, including the ground pole otherwise referred to as the Nadir.
How do you think VR will continue to change the face of both narrative storytelling and the film industry in the future?
KO + MK: VR poses a great number of challenges as it’s modified the conventional tools of cinematography and editorial. The 360° view pushes us to rethink how to dynamically tell a story without the ability to use cuts, as seen in linear storytelling. Because VR allows the viewer to have several unique experiences within each viewing session (due to its immersive nature), it forces you to find innovative ways to control the pacing of the narrative.
VR won’t replace the current cinema experience, but as new technology allows headsets to become more popular and accessible, VR will continue to open up new doors for creating content.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
KO + MK: The high quality of the work was executed to a 5k lat/long resolution at 60 frames per second for final delivery from ILM [prior to subsequent compression], and we are very excited to share it with fans of the Jurassic franchise everywhere.
Thanks to Khatsho and Maia for the ILM insights. Stay tuned to the blog on June 9—Jurassic Park’s 25th anniversary—for a behind-the-scenes Q&A with Felix & Paul, and check out Episode 2 of Jurassic World: Blue on Rift, Oculus Go, and Gear VR today.
— The Oculus Team