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Virgin Media House Party immerses in Gear VR-friendly Vivid 200Mbps ad

Cable company Virgin Media has brought the 360 degree 3D big guns to bear on its latest ad campaign; a VR recreation of last year’s TV ad spot where a house party is saved by superfast WiFi (and Spotify). 

The advert, created in partnership with Manning Gottlieb OMD, hit YouTube last Sunday and has since racked up over a million views. While panning around the party lets you get a feel for the experience, to really see the video as its creators intended, you’ll need to download the Jaunt VR app for iOS and Android, search for ‘Virgin Media House Party’ and fire up your VR headset of choice. 

Virgin Media says the full 3D video experience is optimised for Samsung Gear VRs, but you’ll be able to get a similar 2D experience with a DIY Google Cardboard headset, a compatible phone and some headphones. 

Related: How to watch VR videos and play VR games on your Android phoneBest VR Headset – Which VR headset should I buy? For those without the means or the patience to fold and assemble their own Cardboard, Virgin Media will be demoing the new advert in full 3D glory at a number of high street stores across the UK. 

The video was shot and directed by 3D stereo specialists Vision 3 and Jaunt, whose 26-lens 3D camera was mounted on a radio controlled ‘Mantis’ rig, developed by Motion Impossible. 

The Mantis is aptly named; Motion Impossible’s CEO Rob Drewett told us that the name comes from the bulging eyes of the praying mantis, which afford the insect close to 360 degrees of vision. 

The radio controlled rig was conjured up by Motion Impossible to surmount a problem posed by Jaunt’s 26-lens monster. Because the camera doesn’t have a blind spot, it’s impossible for a director or crew to be in the same room without appearing in the resulting footage. Enter the Mantis, which can be easily piloted from another room, using a off-the-shelf RC joystick. 

Recombu was able to spend a bit of time with the complete rig, affording us a close up look at this technological terror. If you allow yourself to entertain a paranoid Skynet type scenario for a couple of seconds, there is something vaguely threatening about the Mantis – a robot that you literally can’t hide from. That and that fact that it bears a passing resemblance to a Lovecraftian monster doesn’t bode well for any technophobes out there. 

Formula 1 experiences coming to Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift via Sky VR StudioAs well as inducing mild feelings of revulsion, the Mantis also means that directors need to rethink how scenes like Virgin Media’s house party. Traditionally when shooting an ad, the usual rules of broadcast TV apply; the director calls for action and the cameras start rolling. Multiple scenes eventually come together in the editing suite. In this instance the final advert consisted mainly of one long take, with graphics and text overlaid later. 

Dominic Collins, senior consultant for Jaunt said that the actual performance was closer to theatre than TV as the actors couldn’t break character at any point, lest it spoil the illusion of the party scene. 

When we got to have a go ourselves, we found ourselves looking around the party scene, looking for any moments of the fourth wall being broken – we couldn’t spot any. 

We were also impressed by the use of spatial sound in the advert; when you turn your head to the left, audio from the virtual sound system at the other end of the room all shifts to your right ear. It’s a nice touch that added to the level of immersion in a way which other VR experiences we’ve had a go with in the past haven’t done. 

If you’re all set up with a Samsung Gear VR, you should be able to delve into the Virgin Media House Party yourself – let us know what you think in the comments. 

If you’re not, then you’ll be able to experience Virgin Media’s 360 3D advert yourself by heading to one of the following stores: 

  • Solihull
  • Harlow
  • Croydon
  • Clifton
  • Slough
  • St Helens
  • Colchester
  • Kingston
  • London Wood Green
  • Exeter
  • Ipswich
  • Bolton
  • Stockport
  • Hounslow
  • Dundee
  • Hanley
  • Mansfield
  • Newcastle
  • Peterborough
  • Northampton

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