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Fifty-five years after First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy gave her now-famous televised tour of the White House, the Obamas are offering a modern-day glimpse of their home for the last eight years.
The People’s House: Inside the White House With Barack and Michelle Obama was shot by virtual reality studio Felix & Paul in partnership with Facebook-owned Oculus. It is being released as a 360-degree video on Facebook ahead of a planned full VR experience.
“At Oculus, we’re passionate about investing in VR experiences that take people where they’ve never dreamed they could go,” says Oculus head of experiences Colum Slevin. “With The People’s House, we can bring the public directly into one of the most historic buildings in America, and give everyone a personal tour led by the President and the First Lady.”
The President and First Lady narrate the film, making appearances in different rooms. Obama, for example, sits across from the viewer in the Oval Office and Michelle Obama appears in the Old Family Dining Room.
“Michelle and I always joke, ‘We’re just renters here,'” Obama says during the experience. “The owners are the American people and all those invested in creating this amazing place with so much history. What we wanted to do is make sure that everybody felt they had access to the White House…that as many people as possible could come in and appreciate the place where Lincoln, FDR, or Reagan made the decisions that helped to shape America.”
The experience was shot on location at the White House in November and December in the days after Donald Trump was elected the next president.
“It was incredible to be able to capture a one-on-one private moment between the viewer and the President inside the Oval Office, and to position our VR camera exactly at the sitting place where President Obama very often receives his guest,” said Felix & Paul co-founder Felix Lajeunesse. “Filming that scene was an immense and rare privilege for us, and we hope that the resulting VR piece will have a strong impact on viewers that will be preserved long after the Obamas have moved on.”
The Felix & Paul team created a new camera system to film the experience, according to co-founder Paul Raphael. “It is important for viewers to connect with the physical and emotional experience of traveling between the rooms in the White House, in a calm but constant sense of movement,” he added.
This is Felix & Paul’s second collaboration with the White House. The studio previously shot a VR experience with President Obama during the National Park Service’s Centennial at Yosemite National Park.
The People’s House is available on Facebook and via Oculus Video for the Samsung Gear VR headset.
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