Tour the Chernobyl Disaster Site with a Jaw-Dropping VR Documentary

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the nuclear catastrophe that took place in the former USSR and directly took 31 lives, forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, and claimed over 100,000 square kilometers of land as unusable due to nuclear fallout. In memoriam of the disaster, a group of Polish game developers has created a very 2016 tribute: a VR documentary that allows you to walk amongst the eerie and desolate ruins of Pripyat, the city that once hosted Chernobyl but now resembles something more akin to  Resident Evil’s Raccoon City.

A 360 degree “making of” look at the VR documentary, which comes via polygon and is titled Chernobyl VR Project, is available above, and showcases Pripyat’s dilapidated buildings, dark vignettes of classrooms and homes and parks frozen in time, and even specific objects like dolls and bumper cars rendered as highly detailed 3D objects. The Farm 51, the name of the group of Polish developers behind Chernobyl VR Project, visited Pripyat, which they proclaimed is “a place where most of us would never dare to go… out of fear of radiation” and managed to capture thousands of still images and hours of video in order to develop the VR documentary. The astounding result of their effort is obvious when a real image of Pripyat and an image from the 360 degree video are placed side by side:

Left: A still image from The Farm 51’s 360 VR video of Pripyat. Right: An actual image of Pripyat taken by Jason Minshull.

The VR documentary, which was originally going to be a video game—the creators understandably vetoed that idea—is available today on the HTC Vive, and has been available via the Oculus Rift since July. The video costs $14.99, and a portion of each purchase will go to help those affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

What do you think about this VR documentary of Chernobyl? Is this a glimpse at a new way of looking into previously forbidden worlds or are regular documentaries still sufficient? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: wikimedia / Jason Minshull
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