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Visit Obama’s White House, Room by Room, In New Facebook 360-Degree Video

Variety logo Variety 1/13/2017 Janko Roettgers
© Provided by Variety

Before President Obama is calling the movers to the White House this coming week, he’s inviting the public for one last tour: Emmy Award-winning virtual reality startup Felix & Paul Studios and the Oculus team released a 360-degree video dubbed “The People’s House” Friday that’s both a personal reflection of the time the first family spent in the White House and the history of the presidential residence.

The project was filmed over seven days in November and December, and will eventually result in a full 3D VR experience to be released later this year. But the team didn’t want to wait, and decided to release a shorter 360-degree video on Facebook and Gear VR this week. “We felt it was a moment in time that was ideal,” said Colum Slevin, Head of Experiences at Facebook-owned Oculus.

The video takes the viewer through an 8 minute journey through the White House, exploring iconic rooms like the Oval Office, the Situation Room and the the podium that Obama used to announce the demise of Osama bin Laden, as well as two one-on-one interviews with the President and the First Lady. The couple also act as the narrators of the piece, intertwining some of the legacy and symbolism of the building with their own recollection of key moments of this presidency.

Felix & Paul filmed some of the sequences using time lapse and a moving camera, with individual scenes tied together by the President’s and his wife’s narration. “It’s the idea of the President moving you forward through his recollection,” said Felix & Paul Chief Content Officer Ryan Horrigan.

This isn’t the first time Obama has used virtual reality and 360-degree video. Back in August, the White House cooperated with Felix & Paul, Oculus and National Geographic for “Through the Ages,” a video to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. National Park Service.

“The Oculus team has been in dialog with the digital team at the White House for some time,” said Slevin. Out of that dialog, the idea for “The People’s House” was born, which Slevin at least partially attributed to Obama’s fascination with technology. Horrigan agreed, saying that Obama quickly warmed up to the medium. “He pretty quickly started to understand how to have an intimate conversation with the viewer.”

Viewers who can’t get enough of Obama will be able to get an extended tour later this year; the full VR experience, which will be available on Oculus Rift and Gear VR, will be last at least twice as long and feature sneak peeks into many more rooms of the White House.

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