U.S.Presidents are both exiting and entering with a high tech twist, inviting us into their worlds with a 360 degree embrace that we can take in on computer screens and smartphones fitted into VR glasses.
Between packing chores, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama found time to make and post an immersive and informative tour of the White House residence and the West Wing produced by Facebook, its Occulus VR company and major content producers Felix & Paul Studios.
On Friday, Donald Trump’s inauguration as president will be live streamed in immersive surround view video fashion, starting at 9:30 a.m., produced by the Gannett Company with technical support from Nikon. That stream will include multiple VR camera angles grabbed at the Capitol, the National Mall and along the inaugural parade route.
For a deep dive of the swearing in ceremonies, viewers will need to locate the USA Today channel in the YouTube app on their smartphone, then insert the phone into a VR viewer compatible with the Google Cardboard format. The livestream will also be available in flattened 360 degree format through the USA Today YouTube channel for desktop and mobile users. Watchers can work their computer cursor keys and mouse to spin the screen view around and catch different perspectives.
The White House and its occupants have dabbled in VR before. Google Expeditions filmed a Christmas visit for students two years ago. Barack Obama participated in a VR film commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service and recently broadcast his January 10th farewell address in Chicago in 360 degree video.
The newly posted version of “The People’s House: Inside the White House with Barack and Michelle Obama” is actually an eight minute “first cut” of what will eventually be a 20 minute VR film also to be enhanced with 3D depth perspective (missing in the first version.) The first look still manages to cover a lot of territory, from the Oval Office (be sure to look around!) to the Situation Room to the most fabled Lincoln Bedroom, with the President and the First Lady reflecting succinctly on historic moments that occurred in each location. “Michelle and I always joke, ‘we’re just renters here,’” he shares. “This house belongs to you and to every American.” A class act, to the end.