Antarctica in Virtual Reality

The White Spark Pictures crew prepare to board a helicopter to fly to the Sorsdal Glacier.
The White Spark Pictures crew prepare to board a helicopter to fly to the Sorsdal Glacier. (Photo: Wendy Pyper)
The Producer and Director of the film, Briege Whitehead, at the Antarctic Circle.Davis Station Leader and Operations Manager, Robb Clifton, driving the small boats for filming off Davis research station.The crew at Magnetic Island filming on 'Wilson' the 360-degree Virtual Reality camera.Davis research station

The full wonder, fascination and mystery of the icy continent is being brought to life in a 360-degree immersive Virtual Reality (VR) documentary The Antarctica Experience.

The film was shot at Australia’s Davis research station by White Spark Pictures in February and will have its world premiere at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle tomorrow.

Viewers will be able to immerse themselves in a 3-D Antarctic world, flying in a helicopter over the mighty Sørsdal Glacier and boarding a zodiac to zig-zag around icebergs en route to an Adélie penguin colony.

Davis Station Leader and Operations Manager, Robb Clifton, said the film, viewed through VR headsets, will take people to a place few will ever have the privilege of visiting.

“For those of us lucky enough to work in the Australian Antarctic Program it’s difficult to convey what life is really like on the ice,” Mr Clifton said.

“On your walk to work, you might pass a sleeping mass of elephant seals in their wallow, or penguins busy at work collecting rocks to make a nest.

“This film transports you there as an Australian Antarctic expeditioner, experiencing one of the most extraordinary places on the planet,” he said.

Through the documentary, scientists explain their research studying the ice, oceans and ecosystems of Antarctica to improve the world’s understanding of past climate and what might happen in the future.

It also explores life for the 100 expeditioners living and working at Davis station over the summer period.

The film is produced and directed by Briege Whitehead from White Spark Pictures, and BAFTA award-winning Director Phil Harper, known for his work on David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef VR Dive.

“This was the most incredible experience of my life, to be in a location so spectacular, unique and important to our planet was amazing,” Ms Whitehead said.

The crew travelled to Davis station, about 5000 kilometres south of Hobart, as part of the Australian Antarctic Media Program.

The film will screen at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle until 14 October and then tour Australia before heading overseas.

The Antarctica Experience is supported by the Western Australian Museum, Screenwest, Lotterywest, Dneg and Screen Australia.

The Antarctica Experience trailer

Video transcript

Robb Clifton – Davis Station Leader and Australian Antarctic Division Operations Manager

Welcome to Davis station. We are here on the shores of East Antarctica and it’s really great to have you here, in my office.

Dr Louise Emmerson – Australian Antarctic Division Seabird Ecologist

Here we are out at Magnetic Island. At the moment we just have to be a bit quiet because there are penguins coming past.

Dr Sarah Thompson – Glaciologist and Geophysicist

If we look around us, we can see melt ponds forming on the surface. The ice flows down into the ocean where it starts to break up and form icebergs.

[end transcript]