HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — The first tourism film in Arkansas using virtual reality (VR) technology to promote Hot Springs attractions is now ready for public access, Visit Hot Springs announced today.
“Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime” is a two-part virtual reality experience produced by Visit Hot Springs to be used primarily as a tool for promoting the city and its attractions to conventions and other groups, according to Bill Solleder, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs.
“Hot Springs is the first city in Arkansas to use this cutting-edge technology to let potential customers completely immerse themselves in the city, its environs and a sampling of our attractions and facilities,” Solleder said. “VR will give them the feeling that they are actually there at Magic Springs or Garvan Gardens. It will allow them to walk around — virtually, of course — and ‘feel’ what it’s like to ‘be’ in Hot Springs.”
Virtual reality, according to Wikipedia, is an interactive computer-generated experience taking place within a simulated environment, that incorporates mainly auditory and visual, but also other types of sensory feedback. “This immersive environment can be similar to the real world or it can be fantastical, creating an experience that is not possible in ordinary physical reality,” the website says.
“Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime” will use Oculus Go headsets to immerse the viewers in the film’s experiences, Solleder said. While the films also could be screened on ordinary video screens, the immersive experience would be lacking, he said.
Starting on September 10, the VR films will be available for the public to experience via the Oculus Go headsets at the Visitor Center in Hill Wheatley Plaza, Solleder said. The films also will be available to the public at events such as the Spa-Con multi-genre pop culture convention later in September and at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in October.
“At least to begin with, the VR films will be used primarily as a marketing tool for Hot Springs by Visit Hot Springs representatives when we set up our booth at trade shows, convention marketing gatherings and other opportunities,” he said. “As the VR headsets become more widespread the opportunities for public viewing will also increase.”
The VR film is composed of two segments:
Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime – Part One (approximate running time 3 minutes 30 seconds). This is a fast-paced look at Hot Springs including virtual tours of Magic Springs, Oaklawn, The World Championship Running Of The Tubs bathtub races, the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Adventureworks, the newly developed Northwoods mountain biking trail system and Lake Hamilton.
Hot Springs, The Experience of a Lifetime – Part Two (approximate running time 4 minutes). This is a relaxing view of Bathhouse Row, Garvan Woodland Gardens, Lake Ouachita, Mid-America Science Museum and historic downtown Hot Springs.
“When viewing the VR films the viewers will have the feeling that they are actually THERE,” Solleder said. “How cool is that?”
To create the virtual reality films, Visit Hot Springs worked with The Freelance Society, a pioneering VR production company that has created VR films for clients around the world.
"It’s been an amazing process of creating the Visit Hot Springs 360 films and truly a collaborative effort to bring it all together,” said Dylan Roberts a videographer for The Freelance Society. “We chose an immersive documentary style approach to showcase the many experiences of Hot Springs National Park. It’s been an honor to work with the incredible team at Visit Hot Springs who deeply care about their city.”
“Working on this project has been an incredible journey to discover all of the things that make Hot Springs what it is,” said Derek Huber another videographer for The Freelance Society. “Every time we met someone they would tell us where their favorite spot was, or what they thought was the most scenic location. The answer was almost never the same. Now through emerging VR platforms and headsets, we can bring the diversity of those experiences to the world.”
For more information contact Bill Solleder, 501-321-2027.