Can a VR Documentary Convince Us Not to Mess With the Grand Canyon?

as it is vr documentary

The people at 360 Labs think virtual reality can save the Grand Canyon.

If that sounds familiar, maybe you’ve heard this story before. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign back in April after co-founder Thomas Hayden brought his 360 rig on a seven day trip down the Grand Canyon last August.

Thomas was was a river rafting guide in a former life. On last year’s trip, he learned about the Grand Canyon Escalade project, and got pretty pissed about it. The proposed $500 million development would bring a luxury resort hotel, restaurant and gondola to the river’s edge at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers – sacred Navajo land.

Save The Confluence

For now, the project has been halted and 360 Labs is standing alongside Navajo Nation and advocacy groups like Save the Confluence to keep it that way. They’re gathering more footage to convince us all the Grand Canyon should remain unchanged in a photo-real VR documentary called As It Is.

They’re fired up about it. So fired up that they got a little carried away with the original Kickstarter. It had all the bells and whistles, including app development for Gear VR and Google Cardboard, and fell short of the goal. But that isn’t going to stop them. In fact, Matt Rowell, 360 Labs’ Co-founder and President, is on the river this very minute.

This Time Around

First off, they’re asking for a lot less money. Gear-wise, they’re upping their game. Thomas shot the video up top using a homemade rig with three fisheye GoPro HERO3s. This time around, Matt is bringing the F360 Explorer from Freedom360, providing waterproof housing for six GoPro HERO4s. In addition, he’ll be experimenting with a new prototype three-camera rig and a third-person setup. They also have Autopano’s new motion stabilization software and four channel audio. With the latter, they’re hoping to catch the song of the Canyon Wren, a rite of passage among river goers.

Freedom360 GoPro Rig

How You Can Help

It’s a commendable undertaking. They’re going to do it with or without us, but could use a little help covering permits and travel expenses. If the preservation of natural reality is important to you, or maybe you want to send your kids on a virtual field trip to the Grand Canyon one day, you can support them here.

You’ll want to hurry, though. They only have two days left to scrap together another $600 and change.

About the Scout

Eric Chevalier

Eric Chevalier co-founded VRScout after a decade of content marketing in sports, entertainment and gaming. When he isn't sandy, Eric is scouring the streets of Los Angeles in pursuit of the best new storytellers from Hollywood to Silicon Beach.

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