Atlantic Productions is collaborating with the family of the late physicist Stephen Hawking to create Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes Immersive Experience and Stephen Hawking Theatrical Documentary; due for release early 2020.
Stephen Hawking’s Black Holes location-based Immersive Experience is the result of a collaboration between Stephen Hawking and Atlantic Productions’ Filmmaker Anthony Geffen which has been in production for the last two years. Hawking himself imagined the location-based experience to take the viewer on a journey through the universe with him as a guide. The experience will include specially recorded narration by Hawking, helping the viewer to be immersed in the adventure. Atlantic Productions is working with leading technology specialists around the world to build a new platform to deliver a unique interactive experience. Stephen Hawking’s wish was to make the experience accessible to the public and deliver it through new cutting-edge technology.
A collaboration between the people who knew him the best, the Stephen Hawking Theatrical Documentary will reveal the life and work of the scientific and cultural icon, Professor Stephen Hawking in a way he has never been seen before. The documentary will access new personal footage and reveal the true man behind his life story and innovative work. The filmmakers have exclusive access to the family and those closest to him.
Author and journalist Lucy Hawking, daughter of the late Professor Hawking, says “We are delighted to be collaborating with Atlantic Productions on a revealing, informed and insightful documentary about our father’s life and work. We are also very excited about the creation of an experience to illustrate our father’s scientific theories through immersive technology. We are especially pleased as our father always searched for innovative ways to explain science to the widest audience possible and was fascinated by the potential of new technologies to enthral his audience. This project, which began in his office in Cambridge two years ago, will now take viewers on a stunning cosmic journey to reveal our father’s vision of the universe.”
Anthony Geffen, CEO and Filmmaker of Atlantic Productions says “Professor Hawking was one of the most incredible minds of modern times. His ground-breaking scientific findings shaped physics as we know it and helped to unlock some of the Universe’s greatest mysteries. It was a great honor to work with Stephen Hawking, so closely on these projects which he considered to be an important part of his legacy. The immersive experience will take the viewer on a journey through his mind, using cutting edge technology. I am excited by our preliminary discussions about the museum being one of the locations for the immersive experience, who we have collaborated with before on Space Descent VR with Tim Peake. The documentary is going to give us an inside view into the man himself and how he carried out his work. With the help of from those closest to him, new interviews with Hawking and his home footage we are going to shed new light on his remarkable life.”
Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs at the Science Museum, said, ‘Since his childhood, Stephen Hawking was a regular visitor to the Science Museum, which he described as one of his favourite places. We are always looking for new ways to tell the story of the world’s best-known scientist, who not only made huge strides in cosmology but was also a hugely successful science writer and a beacon of inspiration for how the limitations of the body can be overcome by the power of the mind.’
Alchemy VR’s latest project was launched today and is an experience made for global art market leader Heffel Fine Art Auction House. The experience has launched to coincide with the sale of Paul-Émile Borduas’ Figures Schématiques in Heffel’s upcoming spring auction on 30th May. The 1956 masterpiece canvas is one of the Canadian artist’s most acclaimed works and is expected to sell for an estimated $3-5 million CAD.
The team at Alchemy created a virtual gallery which allows the user to enter a fully CGI rendered gallery space, where they can view the iconic painting. This provides international buyers, who cannot visit the gallery, the unique opportunity to see and experience the painting prior to the sale. The experience combines cutting-edge CG graphics created by award winning VFX studio ZooFX, with real images of the world-famous painting. As well as exploring the painting in detail, viewers will learn more about the artist , Bordaus and the Les Automatistes, a group of Québécois artists from Montreal, Canada to which he belonged. The film has been translated into seven different languages – English, French, Arabic, German, Russian, Mandarin and Japanese – to reach Heffel’s large demographic of global buyers.
Anthony Geffen, CEO and Creative Director at Alchemy VR says: “It has been a great pleasure to be able to bring not only this iconic painting, but the backstory of Borduas and incredible group of artists to life, through the power of virtual reality. It showcases one of the many applications this innovative technology can have for the art world, enabling people around the world to experience this exquisite painting.’
David Heffel, President of Heffel Fine Auction House says “We are thrilled to be able to reach our international collectors and enthusiasts through this virtual experience. Paul-Émile Borduas’ Figures schématiques presents a once-in-a-lifetime market opportunity and this new media will help the monumental canvas find its new home.”
The 4 minute experience will be sent to Heffel Fine Art Auction House clients in bespoke packaging and it will also exhibited at the public previews in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal before the auction on 30th May. It can also be viewed online here.
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting takes place every two years and brings together the heads of state for 53 Commonwealth countries. This year London hosted the meeting from 16th-20th April 2018 ,and the team at Alchemy were very lucky to be invited to demo our Great Barrier Reef Dive experience for the full duration. One of the summit’s focuses was sustainability, with a particular lens on plastics in the ocean – so the Reef Dive was a perfect fit! Attended by over 2000 delegates from across the Commonwealth the forums a wide variety of people tried the experience, which is always a huge hit with audiences.
Space Descent VR was also featured during the course of the week’s activities. It was exhibited to guests at the Department of International Trade’s welcome reception, the event was opened by Prince William, and the Duke of Cambridge found the time to stop the demo area and ask a few questions about the possibilities VR has for science education.
Many thanks to the Cabinet Office and the Department of International Trade for including us in such an incredible event!
Recently we were approached by Broadcast Tech Magazine to provide our thoughts on the future of immersive technologies. As part of their ‘Ask the Expert Feature’ Alchemy’s Lead VR/AR Creative Daniel Wan lent his thoughts on the subject alongside experts from Inition, BBC VR and Jaunt.
Opinions were mixed, with some people stating that immersive technologies will never become mainstream, with others stating that they believe mass option is just around the corner. The general conscious however was that AV/VR/MR has great potential across a variety of applications. Whether this be to enhance a museum experience visitor’s experience or enhance training across businesses and healthcare.
Alchemy VR had the pleasure of being invited to the launch of the Weddell Sea Expedition earlier this week.
The expedition, due to set off in 2019, is led by by scientists from Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute. The team is on a mission to find the Endurance, the lost ship of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. The ship has laid on the bottom of the Weddell Sea since 1915 after it became trapped in ice and sank. Shackleton and his crew survived and a small group of men led by the explorer set off to seek help. After several attempts, Shackleton finally manged to rescue his crew in 1916. Their perilous journey is regarded as one of history’s most heroic feats of navigation.
On 10th April the expedition was announced at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Alchemy were there were demoing our BAFTA winning Great Barrier Reef Dive experience to guests. The experience is a great example of how virtual reality can take audiences deep into the oceans and explore an environment that is inaccessible to most.
For more information on the expedition you can visit the official Sea Weddell Expedition website .
In the lead up to MIPTV Alchemy was invited to comment in MIP Preview Magazine’s immersive content feature. Alchemy’s Lead VR/AR Creative Daniel Wan, spoke on the role of Augmented Reality has in on-screen media and entertainment alongside other industry experts including Digital Catapult and VIMN. You can read the full article here: MIPTV PREVIEW – Immersive Content piece – March 2018
MIPTV is an annual TV market held in Cannes, France. In recent years the market has had a focus on factual immersive technology content, with immersive and next generation technologies having their own track in the market’s conference programming. The market also has an Innovation Hub, which consists of an expo area where companies can demo their products and services. This year Alchemy’s experience Judi Dench: My Oak Tree VR was exhibited at the Innovation Hub’s VR library. The library is a platform for some of the world’s top commissioners to view the latest innovative VR content.
It was pleasure to be included in both the library and MIP Preview Magazine, hopefully we will be back in Cannes towards the end of this year for MIPCOM!
Space Descent VR with Tim Peake has been shortlisted in the Innovation category at this year’s Museum & Heritage awards. This is such a great achievement – well done to all the team involved! Alchemy won the Innovation award back in 2016 for our very first museum VR experience David Attenborough’s First Life VR.
The experience takes visitors to the Science Museum on a journey from the International Space Station (ISS) back down to Earth in one of the most durable space crafts of the modern age – a Soyuz Descent Capsule. During the journey they are guided down by Tim Peake – the first UK astronaut to travel to the ISS. It was commissioned to go alongside the acquisition of the Soyuz capsule that Peake himself travelled back down to Earth in, it allows visitors to see what it’s like inside the capsule without actually being inside! The experience is currently on tour of the UK which you can read more about here.
This morning we were very lucky to be invited to the launch of the DCMS Culture is Digital report. The launch was at the incredible National Gallery and was attended by the directors of some of London’s top museums including the V&A and Natural History Museum.
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport where he said that “London is undoubtedly one of the cultural capitals of the world and the most attractive destination in Europe for tech investors. By bringing culture and digital closer together, we create the ultimate power couple that will cement the UK’s status as a global leader for decades to come.”.
Alchemy has bringing immersive experiences to cultural spaces since the launch of David Attenborough’s First Life VR since 2014. Most recently we produced the Science Museum’s Space Descent VR with Tim Peake experience, which is currently touring the UK and will visit eight cultural institutions over the course of this period. We demoed this experience at the launch and were joined by fellow UK companies including Rewind, BBC and Factory42 who were also showcasing their work.
The launch was covered in the Evening Standard where Space Descent got a mention, you can read the full article here.
It’s always a great pleasure to be invited to such important events, thank you to DCMS and the National Gallery for having us.
Last weekend our CEO and Creative Director Anthony Geffen, spoke at the Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend on three occasions. Firstly he spoke on a panel on what tech can do to de-polarize our society, and he spoke on a second panel on how AI could change the way we live our lives. He also had a keynote speaking slot where he presented on overview of Alchemy’s work.
Whilst there he was also interviewed by several media outlets including Abu Dhabi Time Out, you can read the full article here and the article is copied below. He was also featured on Euro News TV – you can watch the full interview here.
Abu Dhabi Ideas weekend returns
Forward-thinking festival of thought in Abu Dhabi
Just where else in the world would you find a digital music pioneer, a virtual-reality virtuoso, a cutting-edge technology boss and a record-smashing astronaut all under the same roof – on the same weekend?
Abu Dhabi is very much a city with one eye on the future, so it is fitting that some of the globe’s greatest innovators are flocking to the emirate for a fantastic festival of thought.
Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend, a two-day education and entertainment extravaganza, will explore some of the most important ideas and innovations of our time at a prestigious seat of learning, New York University Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island.
The enterprising event, which will take over the city on March 2 and March 3, will feature thought-provoking talks and workshops alongside games, interactive experiences, music, art, food and much more.
Now in its second year, the festival will see the campus’ plazas and walkways transformed into a bustling street festival suitable for all of the family.
The celebrated filmmaker (see our interview) will be opening up on the future of film – virtual reality. The Bafta and Emmy award-winning director will explain how the hi-tech platform will allow directors and film producers to share new storytelling possibilities, accounting for multiple perspectives, plot lines and possibilities to get their audience even closer to the action. Could you be the Steven Spielberg of virtual reality?
A hub for new ideas
The Abu Dhabi Ideas Weekend is being brought to Saadiyat Island by Abu Dhabi government firm, Tamkeen, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organisation based in Washington D.C.
John Tate, CEO of Tamkeen, says: “Abu Dhabi is an international hub for new ideas and opportunities so it is fitting that both the city and NYUAD play host to an event celebrating innovation and creativity. We are delighted to be staging this unique and vibrant event, and look forward to welcoming the community in March.”
The future of film: Anthony Geffen
Alchemy VR supremo Anthony Geffen shares his hopes for virtual reality storytelling
It was the landmark moment when the pioneering concept of virtual reality became, well, pretty real. Television history was made on April 24, 2017, when the first-ever Bafta was awarded to a virtual-reality experience –and for the pioneering award-winner it is just the start of a glittering new multimedia era.
Internationally renowned filmmaker Anthony Geffen, whose diverse range of works include a series of documentaries with screen giant Sir David Attenborough and a rare sit-down conversation with Queen Elizabeth II for a documentary on her coronation, has been at the ground floor of virtual reality’s rise from flashy gimmick to the mainstream in recent years.
Geffen’s virtual-reality studio, Alchemy VR, scooped the prestigious Bafta in the Digital Creativity category for David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive VR at the glitzy awards bash, a dazzling production that has wowed viewers all over the world, from the Natural History Museum in London to the Australian Museum in Sydney.
Geffen’s love of film was sparked by watching the legendary Attenborough as a child – and he is proud that he is now standing shoulder to shoulder with one of his heroes to lead the virtual-reality drive.
Geffen explains: “I was one of those kids who was fascinated by watching things like the Apollo missions and David Attenborough on TV.
“I started out with the BBC and have done a lot of big documentaries, including working on 11 David Attenborough films in all.
“I have been fascinated by technology and felt it could be used to tell better stories. I set up Alchemy VR to look at virtual reality in a different way, using it alongside proper storytelling. It is an immersive experience.
He continues: “One of the first films we did was David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef Dive VR, which won a Bafta. He has been very excited about working with VR as it takes him to a new audience, as not everybody watches TV anymore.
“It is great to have his support as I think you need to have figureheads like him and we have also worked with people like Dame Judi Dench and Simon Callow.”
While VR is currently an event experience, with people visiting museums and theatres to see it in action, Geffen expects rapid technological advances to soon bring it into people’s own homes.
He adds: “In the future, it is an experience that we want to deliver into people’s own homes. The technology isn’t quite there yet. It is an incredibly exciting media.
“Seeing is believing. Our films allow people to get up close with the Munduruku tribe or into space with Tim Peake.”
Geffen is looking forward to promoting the media platform in Abu Dhabi, a city where he feels progressive ideas are embraced.
“There is a lot of interest in the UAE,” he says. “They are very interested in new technology. It is a place that is still quite young and is always looking to the future.”
The future is now – and it is becoming a brilliant reality.