By Matt Wickstrom
Red Bull F1 VR is a 360-video experience produced by VIEMR, a specialist in virtual and augmented reality. The video, which directly appeals to race fans or anyone hoping to pursue thrill-seeking adventures, was posted on YouTube on Sept. 15, 2015 and has been a massive success, garnering over 271,000 views in the time since.
The video features Formula 1 star Sébastien Buemi making practice runs at TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands during the Gamma Racing Day in front of over 80,000 spectators.
The story begins with Buemi’s car finishing up inspection at the circuit’s paddock before cautiously navigating the narrow path to the pit lane with the flashes of the cameras of eager fans clicking away. Once departed from the pit lane, Buemi’s time trial run begins, giving viewers a glimpse into the sense of speed and quick reaction times necessary for driving behind the wheel of one of the most fine-tuned machines in the world. Following the time trial run, the video ends with Buemi celebrating with burnouts on the course’s front straightaway, throwing up clouds of smoke before his crew runs out onto the track to embrace their driver and celebrate.
While the video is more of a 360 experience, it also features storytelling elements due to the different scenes played out over the video, including the car inspection, time trial, and celebration. This setup with scenes also lends to the story having a narrative structure.
The video only contains natural audio, which in this case consists primarily of car engine noise. While it may have added more context and immersion laying over audio from Buemi or someone else on his team describing the weekend, car, etc., I am more than satisfied with the video only containing natural audio. As an avid race fan, nothing excites me more than hearing the sound and power of a race car’s engine.
I believe this story is appropriate for virtual reality because it places the viewer in a situation and environment that most people only get the chance to live out in their dreams or through video games and other simulators. The perspective of the camera in the video makes you feel as though it were actually you speeding around the race course in an F1 car, and the lack of outside or laid over audio allows for the user to focus even more on the experience they’re partaking in.
However, laid over audio during the beginning inspection scene could’ve added even more immersion by capturing audio of Buemi or someone else describing the weekend’s events, their team’s expectations for the season, or anything else related to the race team that provides the viewer, who may not know much about racing or F1 specifically, more context into the events, format, and race cars.