Sundance: Controversial VR Project Takes Viewers Inside Mission to Bring Down Iranian Nuclear Facility (Exclusive Video)
Check out the trailer for 'Zero Days VR,' which will debut on the Oculus platform in March.
Ever want to poke around an Iranian nuclear facility but didn't have the proper clearance?
A virtual reality project at Sundance is giving viewers just that opportunity. Scatter's Zero Days VR takes the Oculus headset-clad participant deep inside the facility that was brought down by the Stuxnet virus. As centrifuges explode, viewers listen to a National Security Agency whistleblower explain how the cyber weapon worked.
Director Yasmin Elayat's 12-minute project, which is based on Alex Gibney's feature-length documentary from Participant Media/Showtime also titled Zero Days, is certain to spark controversy given that it spills intelligence secrets and attributes the attack to U.S. and Israeli agents working in tandem. No nation has ever claimed responsibility for creating the computer worm, which had unintended consequences. Once it was discovered, it escaped its intended confines. The virus is said to have infected a nuclear power plant in Russia as well.
"I was driven by the idea of how can we make people aware of something invisible," said Elayat, who is at Sundance presenting the project that was produced by Scatter and financed by Oculus.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information and topics covered, Elayat said “I had to redact some things."
The New York Times reported that Stuxnet was part of a U.S. and Israeli intelligence operation called "Operation Olympic Games" that was started under President George W. Bush and expanded under President Barack Obama. In the VR project, a news clip highlights then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unequivocally denying that the United States played any role in Stuxnet.
"VR provided such a wonderful way to tell this story because it takes you places you could never go before," said Scatter partner Elayat.
Added Gibney, who executive produced the VR experience, "I'm just delighted that [this project] got into the visceral feeling of what we were after, to convey an impressionistic sense of what it was like to be inside the code."
Oculus will release an expanded version on its platform in March. Scatter's sister company DepthKit created the volumetric technology used in the project.