USS Eisenhower VR offers groundbreaking virtual reality experience
USA TODAY NETWORK's industry-first experience immerses audiences in active naval aircraft carrier operations
USA TODAY NETWORK, part of Gannett Co., Inc., has released its latest interactive virtual reality experience: an industry-first fusion of 360-degree storytelling with high-end VR interactivity aboard the USS Eisenhower.
"USS Eisenhower VR" transports audiences to the aircraft carrier during the biggest combat training exercises in recent Navy history, allowing users to freely explore stories via an incredibly detailed scale representation of the USS Eisenhower.
"USS Eisenhower VR" showcases the amazing visuals and human drama of an aircraft carrier in a totally new way. Audiences can launch off the deck in an F-18, explore the control tower and hangar, and meet the sailors who make it all happen. The 360-degree scenes are unprecedented. "It's the most ambitious reflection yet of our ongoing commitment to telling amazing stories in VR," said Robert Padavick, director of VR / 360-degree video, USA TODAY NETWORK.
"USS Eisenhower VR" further demonstrates USA TODAY NETWORK'S dedication to bringing innovative stories to an audience of 110M+, while simultaneously continuing to break ground in new mediums such as virtual reality. Audiences can truly immerse themselves in the drama of combat training in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean aboard the USS Eisenhower before deployment, gaining a real sense of appreciation for such an impressive operation.
"No other media organization has brought such a major production to life in virtual reality the way we have with the USS Eisenhower," said Ray Soto, emerging tech design director, USA TODAY NETWORK. "The design elements are critical for creating an authentic and immersive experience, such as this one, that audiences are excited to be a part of."
Filming took place over three days aboard the USS Eisenhower in the Atlantic Ocean. USA TODAY NETWORK partnered with Nokia to film flight operations on board the Eisenhower in stereoscopic VR using Nokia's OZO camera. Crews also captured scenes in the cockpit of a F-18, in helicopters during a major resupply operation, and below deck. Interviews with commanders, pilots and sailors reveal the drama of an aircraft carrier before deployment.
"Eisenhower VR" is available with full scale interactivity via the HTC Vive, the ultimate way to experience the immersive story in its full setting. An interactive version is also available on Google Daydream in USA TODAY NETWORK's "VR Stories" app. Additional versions are available on USA TODAY website and in the USA TODAY app, in the USA TODAY's YouTube and Facebook channels, and within the Littlstar app for Samsung Gear VR and Playstation VR.
The USS Eisenhower experience follows an array of VR content produced and released by the USA TODAY NETWORK. In October 2016, the NETWORK released the first weekly VR show "VRtually There," now in its second season, following season one's viewership of over 12 million views. Additionally, in 2017, USA TODAY NETWORK livestreamed the Presidential Inauguration in 360-degrees – the first-ever multi-camera coverage of a major news event live in 360 degrees – and continues to release VR content from across the USA TODAY NETWORK, including a recent VR project from The Desert Sun in collaboration with the University of Southern California.