'Deadliest Catch' Brings Viewers Aboard Fishing Vessels With Virtual Reality

"We now are even working to get some shots underwater," says cinematographer David Reicher.
Courtesy of Discovery
'Deadliest Catch'

Discovery Channel has found a new way to bring viewers on board its Deadliest Catch fishing vessels in the Bering Sea — through a series of virtual reality adventures, the first of which launches on Tuesday.

'Experience Life as a Crab on the Wizard" places fans directly on the sorting table of crab fishing boat The Wizard, where crew members sift through their latest catch. Captain Keith Colburn provides narration to guide viewers through the experience.

The VR content will be available starting this evening on DiscoveryVR.com and through the Discovery VR iOS and Android apps, as well as on Discovery Channel's Facebook page. "Deadliest Catch pushes the limits of our captains, crew and production, and virtual reality — while sometimes challenging to shoot — is a uniquely special way to place our fans directly in the heart of the action," said Paul Pastor, group executive vp, strategy, revenue and operations for Discovery.

Three additional VR experiences are in the works for this season and will take place on either the Wizard or The Brenna A. This will include a captain's experience, bringing fans inside the captain's wheelhouse; locking up the crab pots, dropping fans on deck as the pots are secured; and a virtual "conversation" with the crew. The next content offer debuts on April 29 and the final two will become available in May.

All four VR projects were shot during the winter with a weatherproof 6-camera GoPro VR rig. "We have certainly had our challenges with camera rigs breaking and incorrect set ups, but I think the most challenging thing when working with these on the boats is having them right in the action," said David Reichert, director of photography for series production company Original Productions.

"We are learning where [the camera rig] can be to get great shots — not be in the way of the fishermen and not get smashed by some of the heavy equipment," he added. "We now are even working to get some shots underwater. Next year we will take what we have learned this year to do a much bigger VR effort."

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