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Yosemite National Park is one of America’s most acclaimed natural parks, drawing over 3 million visitors in 2021 alone. Despite being closed for the duration of the lockdown, the park has been slowly reopening — in person and in the metaverse. Coming soon is the Yosemite-related VR film, Experience Yosemite, created in partnership between immersive producers CityLights, Yosemite Cinema, and VR company Positron.

What’s happening

Experience Yosemite is due to debut in June, promising unique views of the park’s natural environment, whether from atop the El Capitan, around a campfire, or up-close with its pine forests. Produced by CityLights, the volumetric film was captured with photogrammetry, and will feature Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston as a voiceover actor. 

The film will be the exclusive flagship offering at Yosemite Cinema’s new purpose-built VR Theater, which is equipped with 18 Positron Voyager® motion chairs. Wearing VR headsets, audience members in these chairs will experience the many tilts and shifts associated with a journey through Yosemite.

Why it matters

Experience Yosemite VR

By using virtual reality, sites like Yosemite can further reach a broader group of visitors without further compromising the natural integrity or ecology of their sites. VR tours such as Machu Picchu and the Golden Empires of Peru and Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds have similarly used the technology for the purposes of education and preservation. Also worth noting: CityLights has had a number of VR outings under its belt, including Tutankhamun: Enter the Tomb, which reportedly drew over 1.4 million visitors in France.

Experience Yosemite is also not the first VR film to center on the park: initiatives like photographer Scott Highton’s Virtual Yosemite and National Geographic’s Through the Ages (narrated by Barack Obama) have helped expand digital access to the national park. This access is particularly vital for visitors who may not have the physical endurance to explore the park’s harder-to-reach areas. While no replacement for an in-person tour, Experience Yosemite will benefit from Positron’s immersive, multi-sensory technology, here marking its first permanent installation in California.

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What they said

“Positron is thrilled to be partnering with Yosemite Cinema and City Lights to offer audiences a unique experience that is redefining the future of cinemas.” — Jeffrey Travis, CEO, of Positron, and Executive Producer of Experience Yosemite

“This virtual reality film will give everyone the opportunity to experience the rare and extreme phenomena and events of Yosemite, throughout the ages. We are thrilled to be working with Positron again and together advancing the possibilities of cinematic virtual reality.” — Joel Newton, Partner, CityLights, and Director of Experience Yosemite

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