Content creation studio VRAI are working with the United Nation (UN) to create 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience that simulate the challenges faced by troops in the Mogadishu region every day.
Viewers find themselves in the middle of a convoy of military vehicles as they make their way slowly down a dirt road in Mogadishu. As the convoy moves forward there may be disturbances in the roads surface which might be some dirt or debris but could be something far worse. By pointing out this locations, they can be checked to see if it is all clear, allowing the convoy to continue. Of course in virtual space there is no real danger but this is a real threat that many have to deal with each day.
The project, created by Dublin-based content studio VRAI, is intended to simulate the challenges faced by troops on the ground in the Mogadishu region every day. It was showcased at an event in Somalia on International Mine Awareness Day, a UN initiative. Within the VR experience there is a total of five improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which are buried along the road that the convoy follows. Should any of this be missed then an explosion will happen and the viewer will be lying on their back as chaos unfolds around them.
“No one ever gets them all,” said VRAI Creative Director Niall Champion, talking about the experience that has been capture in 360-degree to ensure complete realism. “If it’s fully CG it starts to look fake,” Campion said. The Defense Forces where the ones who brought the company to the UN’s attention and decided it could work for the situation in Somalia.
The project was a complex task that was completed in a short turn around only a matter of weeks before the event. Shooting took two-weeks and was done so with the Insta360 Pro, which is able to capture is stunning 8K, along with a Samsung Gear 360 as the vehicle-mounted camera of choice. “If it falls off, or gets shot off, it’s not too expensive to replace,” Capion said. Due to the nature of the location the crew were required to wear full protective gear and needed an escort at all times.
The goal of the project is to help raise awareness of IEDs within the area and worldwide, offering an immersive experience that is otherwise not something viewers would get to witness. With the pressure of locating the IEDs creating a high level of stress, viewers connected to the lives of the soldiers on the ground in a unique way.
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