Oculus paid for the film, which Felix and Paul Studios produced.
When President Obama visited California’s Yosemite National Park back in June, he stood in front of the park’s magnificent Yosemite Falls and talked about the conservation and climate change and Yosemite’s natural beauty. “You can’t capture this on an iPad, or a flatscreen, or even an oil painting,” he told a crowd of attendees.
Um, what about a virtual reality headset?
On Thursday, Facebook-owned Oculus and VR content studio Felix and Paul Studios published an 11-minute film highlighting that same presidential visit to Yosemite. The short film, titled “Through the Ages: President Obama Celebrates America’s National Parks,” includes material from six days of filming and is the first known VR film to include a sitting President. Obama even narrates the film.
Here’s the 360-degree video version that you can watch on Facebook. To watch in VR, you’ll need a Samsung Gear VR headset.
President Obama is a pretty tech-friendly President. He has his own Twitter account, uses a selfie stick, and takes mail from citizens via a messaging bot. This interest in tech is one of the reasons The White House green-lighted the VR film, according to Felix and Paul’s Chief Creative Officer Ryan Horrigan.
“The President and his administration, they really care about technology,” Horrigan said. “They want to be seen as innovators. They want to be seen as first adopters.”
Much like POTUS’s messaging bot, the VR debut is a fun publicity stunt for Facebook and Oculus. Of course, the real success story will be when filming the President in VR doesn’t garner any attention at all. That will mean that VR has indeed become the next great content platform that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes it will be.
But until then, seeing POTUS tour one of the country’s most beautiful natural parks makes for decent content — even from the great indoors.