What does it mean for you to be able to share Everest and this uniquely personal story with people across the globe?
JG: I think I’m pretty well detached from the story to be honest by now. I’m really proud of it though, not just as a story but as a project. I started out with this rather crazy idea and it took an insane amount of work to pull it off into the finished product that you can watch on Oculus TV today. People still cry when they finish the film, so I know it has some kind of an impact on them. A lady told me the other day that she’d remember it for the rest of her life, and that’s really nice to hear after you’ve put so much of yourself into a project. It makes me realize the real power of VR. It's exciting.
Your client list varies widely from Red Bull and The North Face to The New Yorker and the BBC. Who’s been your most memorable client and why?
JG: That’s a tough question. I guess working on the BBC Planet Earth series was a big childhood dream of mine — having been brought up on anything made by David Attenborough, that was a proud moment for sure. To be honest with you nearly all of my work projects are memorable just because they are so varied and I’ve been lucky enough to capture some of the world’s best climbers, sadly some of whom aren’t with us anymore. I actually think this VR journey has been one of the most interesting ones though; it has made me break out from the “outdoor” world and into the world of Hollywood and big production houses. That in itself has been a huge adventure, and I’m lucky enough to have spent a lot of time with incredibly passionate creatives, producers, and agencies. It wasn’t easy leaving the work world that I had embedded myself in, but it really opened up my eyes to how much raw creativity there is out there. The Oculus team has been incredibly supportive and honest, which I really appreciate, and I’ve also been very lucky to have worked with Vulcan Productions who I have huge respect for not only in terms of what they create but in their values and ethics.
What’s next for you? Any exciting updates in the works?
JG: I’m off to Ecuador in a few days to shoot a VR story out there which I’m really excited for and then straight on to some completely different projects (for me). That’s also what is fun at this stage: We’ve managed to bring VR production costs down a huge amount and it’s now affordable for everyone and anyone which couldn’t have been said a year ago. It’s opening up the floodgates a bit which is a welcome relief from the last few years of always having to pitch to clients. I think next in terms of creative is going to be about interactivity within VR film and the new hand-tracking on Quest has certainly opened up my eyes to that — no need for controllers, so it can be a seamless and light interactivity from the user. Like I keep saying though, it’s all experiment. We just hope that, whilst we’re experimenting, we create something really interesting.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
JG: Get stuck in! I really do think that 2020 is going to be a turning point for VR. Costs are affordable, clients are interested, and headsets are now incredibly user-friendly. Adoption is here, and this is an exciting place to be as a creator. It’s not easy though, so you need to be motivated and spend a lot of time learning a whole different skill set, but the challenge is the fun really. Try out Everest VR, and if you can’t imagine how this media is going to transform into something truly incredible in a few years time, then I just don’t know what to tell you!
Check out Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World on Oculus TV for Quest today.
To learn more, visit jonathangriffith.eu.