The aim was to produce an experience to share with judges from the City of Culture 2025 panel. County Durham is very large, and since the judges were only visiting for a few hours, the bid organisers wanted to be able to show them a flavour of the areas of natural beauty in the county.
Members of the digital learning team at DCAD filmed the sequences at various locations in County Durham, using an Insta One X camera. Prior to the shoot, I researched and sourced a spatial microphone, the Zoom H3-VR, so that we could capture immersive audio alongside the video.
Once I had the footage, it was edited together in a sequence using Premiere Pro. I created animated map scenes using Google Earth Studio, and these were intercut with the 360 scenes to provide a sense of place and context for the different locations – allowing the viewer to move between locations. These animations were calibrated after initial feedback to provide slow and smooth motion to reduce the chance of making the viewer feel motion sickness. The final video was sideloaded onto Oculus Quest 2 devices, rather than being streamed, e.g. via YouTube. This was to mitigate internet connection issues and maximise the quality of the experience.
This was a team project, requiring a lot of back and forth editing on the Premiere project file – I take no credit for the spatialised audio, since my colleague is an expert audio engineer!
The soundtrack was originally a locally produced poem and song about the landscapes featured in the tour. This has been replaced with a royalty-free track from Uppbeat for use in my portfolio.
The Head of Digital Learning, Dr Malcolm Murray, presented the 360 experience to the judges on the day. The following is an excerpt from our Digital Learning Newsletter for May, written by Dr Murray and my colleague James Youdale.
The judging took place in a large room, and owing to the requirement to create a ‘safe zone’ before using an Oculus headset, Dr. Murray later reflected that he felt he had effectively created a virtual jail of his own making as the nervous moments passed and the judging time approached.