The ISS Experience: Not visiting any time soon? Through a VR glass darkly may be next best thing

www.theregister.co.uk | 7/9/2019 | Staff
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Click For Photo: https://regmedia.co.uk/2016/01/13/kopra_spacewalk.jpg

There are plenty of virtual reality "experiences" involving space to keep fans happy. The Register had a go at the latest of the breed, which aims to bump the quality up a notch.

Dubbed The ISS Experience, the documentary is currently being filmed aboard the orbiting outpost, but the first few scenes were shown off last week via Oculus's (relatively) inexpensive Go headset.

Reg - Félix - Lajeunesse - Co-founder - Outfit

The Reg spoke to Félix Lajeunesse, co-founder of the outfit responsible, the imaginatively titled "Felix & Paul Studios", to find out how the thing worked.

Firstly, the documentary is entering a crowded marketplace. There's no shortage of space-based VR experiences to enjoy, from the purely CGI (such as the slightly-shonky-looking Apollo 11 mission) and the BBC's crack at an ISS spacewalk-gone-wrong, Home – A VR Spacewalk, to NASA's Mission:ISS, replete with helpful videos as the user glides around the lab.

ISS - Experience - Things - Approach

The ISS Experience does things slightly differently, taking a more cinematic and less interactive approach.

The camera, which was sent to the ISS aboard the CRS-16 mission in December 2018, following nearly two years of discussions with the ISS team, consists of an array of nine ZCAM lenses, arranged to capture 360° moving images.

ZCAM - Capable - Video - Quality - Capabilities

With each ZCAM capable of recording at 4K, the video quality theoretically exceeds the capabilities of current headsets and while Lajeunesse would not be drawn on the exact figure, he did say: "We're capturing at a much, much higher resolution than what the headsets can allow us to monitor."

So more than 4K?

That

"Oh, it's more than that."

Even on the relatively cheap Oculus Go, the footage thus far is impressive, with a level of detail that will delight those unlikely to pay the station a visit in person any time soon.

ISS - Challenges - IMAX - Crowd - Lajeunesse

Obviously, filming on the ISS has its own unique challenges (just ask the IMAX crowd), and Lajeunesse's team had to shrink...
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