Heritage sites by their nature often have barriers to access, for people with reduced mobility and for autistic people or people with learning difficulties the environments can present challenges. So what if you were able to take those barriers away? Well, that’s what we’re going to be doing this spring, in Virtual Reality at least.
Improving Accessibility Using 360 VR Video Tours
Devon Based Heritage Ability, part of disability charity Living Options Devon, is working with twenty heritage sites across the South West to help improve access. They aim to achieve ‘Accessible Heritage for Everyone’. And we will be helping them using some of the latest 360 Virtual Reality equipment. As part of our work with Heritage Ability, we will be filming using a 360 VR camera at a heritage site in Cornwall. We will use our camera to capture those hard to reach places, for example where there’s uneven ground or stepped access. Once we have filmed in these inaccessible locations we will create a VR experience for people who can’t easily access them. The result? An immersive VR tour of the environment, where visitors can experience places they otherwise couldn’t have. The VR tour will be viewable on a VR headset and will be part of the visitor experience at the site.
Providing VR Training to the Team
We have also had the chance to share our expertise in video production with the Heritage Ability team. With the aim of making more heritage sites accessible through VR, we’ve been training the team how to to create and edit VR video. They then will pass on this knowledge to heritage sites throughout the South West. Heritage Ability have invested in their own Virtual Reality equipment: a 360 camera and two virtual headsets. Purchased with money from the National Lottery awards, this kit will extend the possibility for VR video to other Heritage sites. These sites will be able to book with the HA team, and learn how to use the specialised equipment. Each site will then be able to get out there and create their own exciting virtual tours. And that’s where sharing our expertise comes in. To enable Heritage Ability to offer this fantastic opportunity to sites throughout the South West, we’ve trained them how to use the 360 camera and also how to do some simple editing to allow 360 video clips. These can then be uploaded to social media platforms and onto VR headsets.
“ In collaboration with the Heritage Ability team, we’re combining this (VR) tech and our expertise in film-making to “virtually” bash down existing physical barriers. In doing so, we hope to help improve visitor experiences to some of the partner heritage sites.” Gareth Allen, Managing Director, Soundview.
Virtual reality and 360 video
Shooting 360, rather than the usual “2D” takes a special understanding. So we’ve spent time both in the classroom, and on location teaching the Heritage Ability exactly how to do that. We’re excited to deliver this important project, particularly knowing it will help people with reduced mobility to have a better experience when visiting sites by accessing virtual tours. We’ll be producing the tour in the spring and hope to have it ready for the summer season. Watch this space for updates on how the project is going.
More on our VR 360 video work: