LIFE is one of the most iconic magazine properties in the world. Owned by Time Inc, it has been at the forefront of history for most of the last century, capturing moments in time, documenting the stories of the age. It stands to reason that today, LIFE would be leading the way in the nascent field of Virtual Reality.
Time Inc. launched the LIFE VR brand as a vehicle to aggregate and publish VR content from across their stable of titles, which includes Sports Illustrated, People, Travel+Leisure and Time itself. With the launch of Microsoft’s new VR platform, dubbed Mixed Reality, we were tasked with reimagining the entire LIFE VR virtual experience as an exclusive global Microsoft launch partner.
The brief was to create a space that felt as though you had stepped into the LIFE Magazine world. It needed to be magical, mystical, yet have the gravitas and iconic nature of the LIFE brand. An aesthetically sophisticated adult wonderland, not a playground for kids.
Working closely with the talented team at Assembly, an ethereal virtual environment was created, deeply rooted in history but with a foot firmly in the future.
This immersive environment was built out using a closed beta version of the Unity 3D game engine, specifically optimised for the then pre-release Microsoft Mixed Reality platform. This involved working through the myriad of issues expected when dealing with pre-release hardware and software.
During the build, we collaborated closely with the Microsoft technical team, based in Redmond, who were tasked with bringing Mixed Reality to the market. There was a heavy focus on optimising performance on lower spec systems, in recognition of the mass market audience for Windows Mixed Reality.
The new LIFE VR app was officially launched at an exclusive Microsoft event in New York City. The resulting app serves a foundation upon which the LIFE VR platform can build, expanding across all popular VR ecosystems.
We are passionate about the future of VR & are excited to be working on multiple new virtual experiences for clients across the globe.
An entire world needed to be created to immerse the user in the LIFE VR experience. Iconic past covers from the rich LIFE magazine back-catalogue were utilised to provide an architectural backdrop to the core VR content, presented in a intuitive panel that floats in front of the user.
Delivering an intuitive and simple to use experience in a 360 degree virtual environment presents a unique challenge, to which there is yet no clear best practice. The team prototyped and tested numerous approaches during the early discovery phase of the project.
Being official pre-launch partners, we were able to gain early access (under NDA!) to Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets and motion controllers, many months before publicly launched. The new Mixed Reality platform is specifically targeted at mass adoption and supports lower spec machines than other platforms. This meant we needed to heavily optimise performance without comprising the design aesthetic of the experience.
The new LIFE VR app elevates Time Inc.’s acclaimed storytelling capabilities to new levels through 360° video and an interactive, immersive virtual reality experience. The app's user interface was kept purposefully simple; ease of navigation is an even more important factor when interactions are restricted using a motion controller or the gaze interaction.
Managing Editor of LIFE VR, Time Inc.
“Working with NV on the LIFE VR project was seamless. They met the very high aesthetic bar that the LIFE brand sets, hit every milestone; provided clear communication throughout, and brought a creative lens to the project that really took it to another level. They were the ideal partner to bring our new Windows Mixed Reality app to life.”