Wetwheels VR: Driving a Powerboat in Virtual Reality

We visited Portsmouth recently, to film content for the Wetwheels VR video project. It's the home to one of the Wetwheels power boats, and a great  place for a location shoot on the ocean. Portsmouth looked spectacular from the water and the weather didn't let us down either. With conditions perfect for filming at sea, the sun shone on a calm Solent, we were all set.
This shows the view of boats, a tall spiral building and other buildings from the other side of water. It is taken in Portsmouth

Wetwheels VR Experience

Wetwheels is a fantastic charity that gives people who are disabled the opportunity to drive a powerboat.Wetwheels was conceived and founded by disabled yachtsman, Geoff Holt MBE. The Wetwheels vision is to ensure:

Everyone can access the water with a safe, barrier free, enriching experience.

It’s a fabulous adventure and really positive for everyone involved. 80% of the people who enjoy the Wetwheels experience, however, have never been on the ocean before. In order to give those people an insight into what being on the water is like, and for those who aren’t too sure, the confidence to give it a go, Wetwheels decided to create a 360 video and virtual reality experience. When Geoff  approached us to make that film, we were immensely honoured.


The Wetwheels captain

The Shoot

We had prior experience of the Wetwheels boats. In the autumn of 2020 we created a video for Wetwheels when they launched their new vessel in Falmouth. So, we knew in advance exactly where to place the VR camera to give audiences the most life-like experience in virtual reality. And in order that the POV was realistic too, we placed the camera at head height on a wheelchair. We had tested this with and without a figure in a chair but ‘with’ worked so much better. So, for the shoot we employed a sea rescue manikin. That meant we didn’t need to ask someone to sit still through-out the shoot with a 360 video camera attached to their head. It also meant we got the eye height exactly right.

setting up a 360 VR camera for filming on board Wetwheels powerboat, Portsmouth

We then positioned the manikin in several places on the Wetwheels boat, including in the driving position. At first as we left harbour, passing Naval ships among others, our speed was a mere 5 knots per hour. But as we reached the Solent’s open waters, the vessel accelerated to 30 knots. It was thrilling for us to experience. We  imagined how great it would be for someone who had never had that chance before. Our hope is that the 360 degree footage we captured and the Wetwheels VR experience we create will ultimately attract more people to try out Wetwheels so they too can have the adventure of being captain, powering through the ocean.

To find out more about our Virtual Reality work please see our 360 VR page.

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