PacSci 360: Hummingbirds, a 360° video by Port Ludlow filmmaker Ernie Flowers, has been selected by the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories (FIVARS). The video, which lets viewers experience hummingbirds up close from all angles, was filmed in Port Ludlow. The FIVARS film festival was held in Hollywood the weekend of Friday, October 15.
When the Covid pandemic hit, many hands-on education venues like Seattle’s Pacific Science Center (PacSci) had to rethink their strategy, embracing virtual learning as a way to continue serving the public. With that in mind, Flowers proposed to PacSci a series of 360° videos of birds targeted to grades K-8. “The goal was to create low-cost 360° content that engaged the imagination of students,” said Flowers.
Intrigued by the concept, PacSci’s vice president of exhibits asked education program manager Holly Duskin to collaborate with Flowers. To date they have produced six videos, with several new ones in the works. Joining the effort on the hummingbird video was Jenna Ziogas from the Dungeness River Nature Center in Sequim.
PacSci 360: Hummingbirds uses innovative close-up 360° encounters with hummingbirds— a bird loved by everyone— with repeated picture-in-picture video and graphics that are visible no matter where the viewer is looking on the screen or in the application. Knowing most people do not have virtual reality headsets, Flowers designed the videos assuming they would mainly be watched in a browser, or possibly in “magic window” mode on a phone or tablet. He said that he structured the videos using the full 360° sphere to encourage dynamic interaction.
“Because of the sudden impact of the pandemic it was a natural solution for PacSci to extend immersive 360° experiences for our audience,” said Duskin. “A side benefit is that this content will be available for full in-person virtual reality exhibits once we are able to resume them.” This is the second year in a row that one of Flowers’ virtual reality films has been selected by FIVARS.
You can watch PacSci 360: Hummingbirds on the science center’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/pacsci. Go to the “PacSci 360” playlist to see all five of the 360° bird videos. If you have never watched a 360° video in a browser, you can access a tutorial in the same playlist.
A back-lit Anna’s hummingbird on a North Bay deck is captured in 360° video.
Photo by Ernie Flowers