Time Partners With Ryot on Martin Luther King VR Experience (EXCLUSIVE)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Jacquelyn Martin/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Time and Verizon’s immersive entertainment studio Ryot have teamed up to produce a virtual reality (VR) experience about Martin Luther King jr. and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the seminal moments of the civil rights movement. The experience, titled “The March,” will be shown in museums across the country next year.

The experience is being produced in partnership with the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It will be the first time that Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech will be performed in digital media. “It’s really an iconic moment in American history,” said Time editorial director of enterprise and immersive experiences Mia Tramz in reference to the speech.

Tramz previously led the production of “Remembering Pearl Harbor” for Time, which was first released in 2016. She approached the estate of the late civil rights leader 2 years ago with the idea of using VR to bring his legacy to a new generation.

“The March” will offer viewers a chance to experience Dr. King’s speech as well as the march itself, which brought 200,000 protesters to the National Mall, from a variety of vantage points.

Tramz said that she didn’t want to simply put regular photos and videos into VR. That’s why Time and Ryot are using motion capture, photogrammetry and 3D animation to create a fully immersive experience. “This will be room scale, it will be volumetric,” she said.

The final experience will make use of high-end VR headsets, giving viewers a chance to lean into an experience for a true sense of presence. “That spatial engagement is monumentally important,” said Ryot’s head of immersive development Jake Sally. Tramz agreed that the same couldn’t be done with simple 360-degree videos. “6DOF is the way to go,” she said, using the industry term for VR headsets that offer six degrees of freedom.

Tramz wasn’t ready to share the names of participating museums yet, but said that Time was planning to combine the VR film with additional educational material to provide viewers with some historical context. “It is a VR project, but it is much more than that,” she said.

“The March” will be produced at Ryot’s innovation lab in Los Angeles, with help from Peter Martin’s team at V.A.L.I.S. studio, and the deal for the project came together with help from Creative Artists Agency (CAA). It’s not the first time Time has partnered with Ryot: Back in 2017, the two companies teamed up for the “Capturing Everest” VR experience, which subsequently won a Sports Emmy. “We have a history of working together on really ambitious projects,” Tramz said.