“The People’s House,” a 22-minute virtual reality documentary highlighting 19 famous areas of the White House as seen through the eyes of former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama, premiered today at the Tribeca Film Festival. Created by Emmy-Award winning filmmakers Felix & Paul Studios, in collaboration with Facebook and Oculus, the full-length immersive experience (shot entirely in stereoscopic 3D) follows an 8-minute preview that was released in the final days of the Obama administration earlier this year.
The full length version contains additional personal moments with Barack and Michelle, and also includes scenes in the private residence, enhancing the emotional experience and resonance of the piece.
Filmed over five days in November and December 2016, the former President and First Lady take audiences on an intimate tour of the White House, guiding them through the hallowed halls of our nation’s most iconic home.
“Our goal for this unique VR experience was to document this incredible space and the history that it encapsulates, in a very specific moment in time, and preserve it for future generations,” said Felix Lajeunesse, co-founder and creative director of Felix & Paul Studios. “We are so grateful that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were able to layer in their personal memories in addition to historic references to contextualize the rooms that are indelibly imprinted on so many minds across the world.”
Viewers are given intimate access to explore the extensive and personal history of the White House that includes eight years of the Obama administration and also defining events over the last two centuries. From the Lincoln Bedroom and other never-before-experienced spaces within the private First Residence (including the Treaty Room, referred to by Obama as his “man cave”) to sitting with Obama in the Oval Office, to exploring the Rose Garden and the Situation Room, “The People’s House” offers personal memories and insights from the former President and First Lady as they prepared to leave the place they called home for close to a decade. Rooms and areas visited include: the Cabinet Room, the Old Family Dining Room, the Red Room, the Green Room, the East Room, the Vermeil Room, the State Dining Room, the Blue Room, the Diplomatic Reception Room, the Treaty Room, the Situation Room, the Lincoln Bedroom, the Roosevelt Room, the Oval Office, the South Lawn, the West Colonnade, the Cross Hall, the North Portico and the Rose Garden.
“The People’s House allows anyone to step into the rooms of the White House and hear from the Obamas about their time in the residence,” said Colum Slevin, Head of Experiences, Oculus. “Virtual reality gives us the unique opportunity to transport our audience to moments in history, and we’re delighted this experience has helped preserve the White House for generations to come.”
Felix & Paul Studios conceived this project as an exploration of the White House in which the viewer gets transported through space and time, as well as through the former President and First Lady’s personal memories. To achieve this, the creative team developed a version of the studio’s proprietary VR camera system that moves through spaces on a custom-designed robotic platform. Additionally, the Felix & Paul Studios team created multiple timelapse-in-motion sequences that accelerate and manipulate the flow of time and movement of light around the viewer, seemingly allowing them to transcend time and space.
For their first collaboration in 2016, Obama became the first sitting United States president to participate in a VR experience put together by the White House, filmed over Father’s Day weekend at Yosemite National Park in honor of the National Park Service’s Centennial, in partnership with Felix & Paul Studios, Oculus and National Geographic.
“The People’s House” is available today in virtual reality on the Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, and on the Oculus Rift, and is also available as a Facebook 360 video.