SBS will today become the first Australian broadcaster to launch a Virtual Reality app, SBS On Demand VR, allowing audiences to explore the latest 360° videos produced by SBS and the independent production community.
Developed by SBS's Digital Creative Labs team, SBS says the VR app is "part of SBS's commitment to utilise the latest technology to tell diverse Australian stories in new and innovative ways."
"VR and 360° video technology represents the new frontier of storytelling — a truly powerful new medium offering audiences unique immersive experiences to give them greater insights and understanding, with distinctive stories that explore our diverse and multicultural world," said Marshall Heald, SBS Director of Television and Online Content.
The first VR project featured on the new app will complement the television premiere of SBS's observational documentary series Inside Heston’s World — a 360° video of chef Heston Blumenthal giving viewers an exclusive behind the scenes tour of parts of The Fat Duck restaurant in Melbourne, the focus of the television series.
Heston reports that 250,000 people registered to get a coveted seat at the restaurant. With only 14,000 seats available to diners in the six months that The Fat Duck was in residence, foodies across Australia – as well as the 236,000 curious fans out there starving for a look at what could have been — will now be able to get an extra glimpse inside.
Later in the year SBS will release the second season of SBS documentary series Untold Australia as a VR series on the app.
Co-funded by Screen Queensland, Untold Australia VR will be a series of factual VR films exploring the diversity of Australia's people, their cultures and lifestyles. Up to four films will be commissioned as part of the series, with filmmakers in Queensland invited to apply. These VR documentaries will utilise 360° video as well as computer-generated interactive media to create immersive stories.
SBS will also explore VR opportunities in its newsroom and is training camera operators and editors to produce VR content.
The SBS On Demand VR app is free to download and is available for Apple iOS and Google Android smartphones through the App Store and Google Play stores respectively.