Stand on the Edge of Geologic Time with David Al-Ibrahim A Story of an Interactive Story

by Jason R. August 9, 2016

Student David Al-Ibrahim has been working with the NPR Visuals Team on a gorgeous VR project set in the Rocky Mountain National Park called “Rocky Mountain VR.” We were lucky enough to have a quick chat with him about the project, its origin, and future.

Credit: NPR

Give us a general overview of the project.

Rocky Mountain VR is an interactive story on the geological history of the Park and a digital portal into the sound-rich landscapes it contains today. True to NPR, the audio-driven piece uses 360° photography and WebVR technology to create an immersive and easily accessible experience.

So how did the project come about come about?

After launching Catalog.Earth with my fellow IxD teammate Saba Singh, we began speaking with NPR Visuals’ Interaction Designer, Wes Lindamood, about the potential use of 360° media for an upcoming project on geological change in the National Parks. Incidentally, I had planned to spend my summer with NPR’s Digital Media Design Team, and we quickly fleshed out a plan to shoot 360° footage in Rocky Mountain in May. Along with audio expert Bill McQuay, we spent five days hunting for alpine sunrises, thawing lakes, dawn choruses, and howling ridgelines before descending into reality and the studio. The following two months involved stitching footage, editing content, designing and developing interfaces, user testing, launch strategy, and finally publishing NPR’s first immersive story experience: Stand at the Edge of Geological Time.

Tell us a little about the locations you have chosen? And any more planned for the future?

Locations were selected based on a number of factors, including their relevance to the narrative on the Park’s geological history, the audio captured, and the quality of 360 visuals. The primary locations can be explored as stand-alone experiences that highlight the environments’ dynamic (and relaxing) soundscapes. Here are a few of my favorites:

As for the future, there are some exciting projects in development... We learned a great deal about capturing 360° footage, and Saba and I are currently working to secure partners and more robust 360° equipment for our Catalog.Earth expedition to the Columbia Glacier. Other projects are not yet public - so stay tuned!

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