Virtual visit to an offshore windfarm
I'm delighted to share a couple of images from our most recent VR film produced for Pict Offshore who develop, build, sell and support new access, lifting and height safety solutions for the offshore wind energy sector. Founded in April 2019, the Company is part owned by Ørsted, the World’s largest offshore wind developer.
Their first product, the ‘Get Up Safe’ system, a heave-compensated, personnel hoist, features in our VR film giving viewers the opportunity to experience what it's like being hoisted from the deck of a ship up to the maintenance platform on an offshore wind turbine. The product is aimed at transforming the way that maintenance technicians access offshore wind turbines.
As any VR professional will know moving the VR camera is a risky option with movement often triggering nausea for viewers so is generally avoided. In initial discussions and analysis of the movement required we decided to run several tests at the PICT factory on their demonstration rig which allowed us to test the effect of the specific motion that would be experienced offshore.
As this was a fairly unusual requirement, hoisting the VR camera up from the rising and lowering deck of a ship, we tested an Insta360 One X and an Insta360 Pro to see which would provide the most realistic representation and if either would induce nausea. If you've read my previous blog posts or my CV you'll know I'm keen on using stereoscopic media where possible as I believe this gives a much stronger sense of immersion so I was keen to stick to using the Insta360 Pro. The tests aimed to find out which camera and mounting method would provide the optimal results.
The challenge here was mounting the large camera onto the head of the individual being hoisted up. One of the PICT team came to the rescue with the suggestion of drilling a mounting hole into a standard safety helmet which worked amazingly well to mount the camera. Sadly the stereoscopic 360 footage from the mounted camera just didn't work. The mounting straps in particular got in the way of the camera's lenses making the footage unstitchable. The smaller One X camera was a simpler proposition but again the footage simply didn't work with the hoisting straps simply being uncontrollable and covering half the view for a good part of the time or the framing not giving a convincing experience of actually being the one on the hoist.
A final test where we directly attached the Insta360 Pro upside down to the hoist proved somewhat terrifying in terms of mounting an expensive piece of equipment onto the end of a cable and hoisting it up in the air. We ran the test several times, specifically looking at the amount of rotation and swing of the camera to see how this footage would come out. The results of these tests were impressive - it not only gave the viewer a real sense of experiencing being lifted but did not induce nausea in any viewers we tested (NOTE: nor has it in real world use).
The results gave us the proof that not only would this provide an excellent simulation of the hoisting experience but also that it could be done without giving viewers any unpleasant side effects and so the camera was duly packed and ready to head out to sea.
The PICT Offshore VR Film can be experienced in glorious 6K 3D VR at relevant trade shows.
Andrew Murchie is a creative technology consultant based in Edinburgh, Scotland specialising in stereoscopic 3d virtual reality films. He has produced Virtual Reality films & experiences for clients including NHS, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft-Heinz, The UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Highland Spring and Tennent Caledonian Breweries.