Harris Kalinka

Imagery + Animation Golf + Architecture

Wednesday 1st August 2018

Creating a VR experience for one of the world’s most luxurious islands

Over the past year, we’ve created virtual reality (VR) experiences for a number of projects that are in various stages of design. For such projects, we typically repurpose the 3d models that we’ve created for an animation. But, creating VR for a project that has already been built? This isn’t something we’d ever considered.

Until we received a call from Christopher Snape, the Director of Golf at Velaa Private Island in the Maldives.

Chris was looking for a way to attract potential guests to the island and the Olazabal-designed golf academy, and he wanted to create a tour to give people an experience of the island. We told Chris about VR, and how, using a headset like the Oculus Go, people would be able to feel as if they were standing on the golf course, or the sandy beach, lounging in the spa, or walking into one of the many restaurants or luxury villas. They could look up, down and around and feel completely immersed in the island. It would be a completely different experience to looking at photos of the island in a brochure, or watching a video on a website.

The Olazabal Golf Academy on Velaa Private Island

Capturing the island

We’ve never been tempted to take photographs or drone footage of existing courses or resorts. There are a lot of people who can do both of these things better than we ever could, but our experience of working in VR meant we could easily apply the same principles in order to create a VR tour for Velaa Private Island.

The only difference was, instead of creating a 3d model in order to generate the VR content, we would visit the site and capture VR photography and video using a 360-degree camera which captures footage in all directions.

The 360 camera setup to capture VR of Velaa Private Island

We only had three full days on site to capture more than 20 locations, each one looking as picture perfect as possible. Although the island is only 1km across, this required a lot of planning, a team of people preparing each location, a very patient Director of Marketing – who kindly drove us around the island in a golf cart – and a bit of luck with the weather. We also had to be mindful not to disturb any of the guests, since privacy is of the utmost importance.

Near-instant results

The wonderful thing about capturing VR for an existing site is how quickly we can show our clients the results. At the end of each day we processed the content and the next morning our client was able to view the results using the VR headset we had brought with us, and provide feedback. The feedback we got meant returning to a couple of locations to reshoot the VR at a different time of day, when different lighting was preferable.

Back at our office we processed the VR footage and provided it to the Velaa marketing team so that they could give people the experience of being on the island, without actually being there. They are currently using the VR for private presentations, media days, exhibitions and on social media.

Below you can take a look at the 360 panoramas and if you are interested we can find a way to show you the VR.

The Olazabal Golf Academy

Avi Pool Bar and Beach

Tavaru Restaurant

Clarins Spa

Athiri Restaurant

Sunset Villa

Private Residence

Aragu Restaurant