MSNBC, Ovrture launch VR app for prison series “Lockup”

Based on the long-running prison docuseries, Lockup 360 takes viewers inside Sacramento's Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center from the perspectives of both prisoners and correctional officers.
November 13, 2015

44 Blue Productions’ virtual reality studio Ovrture has launched a VR app based on MSNBC’s long-running prison documentary series Lockup.

Lockup 360 places viewers inside a maximum security prison, with the first episode set in Sacramento’s Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. The app is compatible with desktops, mobile phones, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift.

The two-part debut episode allows viewers to explore the jail grounds and stay in a cell with an inmate. The story then shifts to the perspective of corrections officers as they raid a cellblock in search of contraband. Additional info is provided in graphical overlays and temporary video screens that show other perspectives beyond the main narrative.

“Ovrture is focused on taking viewers to places they wouldn’t normally be able to access – in this case, within the confines of our correctional system,” said Mike Drachkovitch, Ovrture’s founder and CEO, in a statement. “Lockup 360 expands upon conventional, static media forms – such as linear television – and delivers an immersive experience that encourages audiences to actively engage the story, rather than passively watch.”

The app is launching ahead of the premiere of Lockup: Extended Stay on MSNBC on November 21.

Launched in May, Ovrture has also released a VR experience based on A&E emergency responder series Nightwatch. The company is also working on VR content related to music, sports, brand marketing, scripted, animation, live entertainment and social impact.

In other VR news, PBS series Frontline has released a version of its VR doc Ebola Outbreak: A Virtual Journey as a 360-degree video on Facebook. The project, which was produced by Secret Location, originally launched on Google Cardboard in September.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.