Sky launches in-house VR studio

UK pay-TV broadcaster Sky has launched an in-house VR production unit that will debut with tomorrow's launch of two Formula One-focused experiences (pictured) on Facebook 360.
March 17, 2016

UK pay-TV broadcaster Sky has launched an in-house virtual reality (VR) production unit that will look to release more than 20 films over the next year.

The slate from Sky VR Studio will span everything from sports, movies, news and entertainment to a range of international locations, and will offer a “unique perspective on major events.” Planned experiences include a focus on heavyweight boxing that goes inside the ring with Anthony Joshua, and a look at the Team Sky cyclists’ pursuit of the Tour de France crown.

The Sky VR Studio will release its first experiences – two films shot during Formula One testing in Barcelona, Spain – tomorrow (March 18).

The pair of VR films, produced with Formula One Management and Williams Martini Racing, promises to “transport viewers to the pit lane, into the team garages, and out onto the track.” They will be published on the Facebook 360 platform, while the full VR experience will be available on the Oculus platform, and also viewable on the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets.

Sky says it will aim to distribute content later in the year through a dedicated VR app.

The VR team is led by executive producer Neil Graham, and includes director Richard Nockles, who helmed the studio’s F1 film.

The launch of the studio is the latest development in Sky’s VR push, which kicked off in 2013 with an investment in U.S. company Jaunt. Since this time, Sky News has published a series of 360-degree videos, while Sky Movies tested the technology during the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere, giving a “unique view of the red carpet.”

Gary Davey, MD of content at Sky, notes that the Sky VR Studio affords the company a “new dimension” to its storytelling across multiple genres.

“Our expertise across a wide range of video content, from original drama to live sport, gives us a unique ability to bring VR to life for customers,” said the exec in a statement. “This is just the start and we’re looking forward to creating more amazing VR content and exploring the possibilities with our tech and content partners.”

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