ABC Creates Its First Immersive Virtual Reality Experience

The ABC has created its first immersive virtual reality experience Warwick Gold: Australian rodeo, taking audiences backstage to Australia’s most famous rodeo at Warwick in regional Queensland.

Lauren Coleman
Posted by Lauren Coleman

The five-minute experience, available in 360 video and VR, has been released to celebrate the ABC’s 70th year of rural reporting. Warwick Gold follows champion saddle bronc rider and cattle farmer Michael Maher as he prepares to compete in the Warwick Gold Cup Campdraft and Rodeo.

ABC regional director Fiona Reynolds said that the national broadcaster has been a part of regional communities, sharing their stories, from the beginning.

“Through our regional programs and coverage, new and innovative approaches to storytelling have always emerged,” she said. “360 video and virtual reality present an exciting new way for audiences to connect with life in regional Australia – one that lets them immerse themselves in the experiences of people across the country.”

This story was filmed by ABC Regional, in collaboration with the ABC’s Research and Development team and with support from VR production company Pixelcase, to explore the potential of the immersive platform.

ABC digital network director Angela Clark said the ABC is committed to exploring new storytelling methods in a media landscape increasingly shaped by the rapid take-up of technology.

“It’s been a big year for 360 video and VR and these immersive experiences are becoming more and more accessible to Australian audiences,” she said.

“In Warwick Gold people who have never watched a campdraft can feel like they’ve been transported there, if only for a few minutes. It’s this ability to make you feel ‘like you are there’ and the empathy that this can evoke that will be exciting to watch evolve in the coming years. And while it is still early days, it really does open up new possibilities for storytelling.”

Warwick Gold will also be coming soon to the Oculus store and on Samsung Gear VR.

Producers: Dan Battley, Chris Lewis, Emily Bissland, Astrid Scott
Interviewer: Cassandra Hough
Talent: Michael Maher (Voice and Performance)
Technical Direction: John Colebrook, Pixelcase
Digital Producer: Carsten Reimers, Pixelcase
Executive Support: Scott Gamble, Matt O’Sullivan, Angela Clark