Watch this massive dinosaur come to life through virtual reality - Technical.ly Philly

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Jun. 8, 2016 1:40 pm

Watch this massive dinosaur come to life through virtual reality

Drexel grad student Valentina Feldman's immersive documentary features an animated version of Dreadnoughtus schrani.
Dr. Ken Lacovara, who discovered Dreadnoughtus schrani, narrates the six-minute experience.

Dr. Ken Lacovara, who discovered Dreadnoughtus schrani, narrates the six-minute experience.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Thanks to the magic of virtual reality, you will be soon be able to look into the eye of the towering Dreadnoughtus schrani, a 130,000-pound titanosaur.

The giant fossil, unveiled in 2014 by Drexel University’s Dr. Ken Lacovara (who now works for Rowan University) previously came to life through a 3D-printed model of its limbs, in a study that sought to visualize the animal’s movements.

Using data from that research, Valentina Feldman — who’s seeking a master’s degree in Digital Media from Drexel — wanted to make her senior project even more eye-catching: to bring Dreadnaughtus schrani to life through a six-minute immersive documentary called Dreadnoughtus VR.

The full documentary will be released for free on July 25 through JauntVR, but a version of the virtual reality experience was screened last Sunday during Drexel’s Digital Media showcase in a really cool 360-degree dome.

Here’s the trailer for the documentary:

The “immersive experience,” as Feldman calls it, is narrated by Lacovara himself, who takes viewers through the discovery of the animal, and gives an in-depth overview of what we now know of its habits.

Through a custom-built rig made up of two 4K, high-definition Blackmagic Design cameras, the team was able to capture 360 video of Lacovara at Dinosaur Hall in the Academy of National Science. The footage was then bonded together in post production with the animation of Dreadnoughtus casually strolling by.

Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes look from that shoot:

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Feldman, 23, credits Nick Jushchyshyn, program director of Animation and Visual Effects at Drexel’s Digital Media Department, with advising and overseeing the 18-month-long production of the experience.

Jushchyshyn has a career spanning 20 years in visual effects. His work can be seen in films like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Last Air Bender and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which received an Academy Award for its special effects.

Although plopping the prehistoric creature into a VR setting proved to be a challenging task, Feldman said the main objective of the project is to bring the public closer to different types of media experiences through virtual reality.

“I hope people become more aware of how accessible VR can be,” said Feldman. “You can watch this through a $15 pair of Google Cardboard scopes or go to a planetarium and enjoy it in a dome for a more immersive experience.”

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