RUSSIA. A VIRTUAL TOUR

FROM THE BARENTS SEA TO THE SEA OF JAPAN
IN 8 MINUTES

A ONE-OF-A-KIND VR FILM AND THE HISTORY OF ITS CREATION

The film crew of the Russian Geographical Society was traveling around the country for three months, collecting the most beautiful shots. The Barents Sea, the Putorana Plateau, Krasnaya Polyana, the Volga Delta, Crimea, Baikal, the Sea of Japan, Kamchatka. As a result, a unique VR film and a photo exhibition about the history of its making have been created.

The film "Russia. A Virtual Tour" was filmed as a panoramic video, or 360-degree video. The film was shown in the country's most unusual cinema, and the exhibition traveled to the several largest cities in Russia.Today you can see the film and the exhibition online on the page of this project.

«We are sure that there are many places on the map of our vast country that you would definitely like to visit. And our film will be the inspiration for this».
Anastasia Chernobrovina
the adviser to the president of the RGS on information policy
When watching a 360-degree video, you can rotate the image with help of computer mouse or with finger. If you have VR equipment (a separate headset or a Cardboard viewer for the phone) that supports WebXR standard, then the button to enter the virtual reality will be available in the lower right corner. 
During the three months of traveling from west to east of Russia, the film crew of the RGS traveled tens of thousands of kilometers and shot 40 hours of video material. Climbers, pilots, meteorologists and scuba divers helped to get the shots for our documentarians. Each new place required new equipment for shooting: from a cable system to a cascade of cameras.
Kamchatka Peninsula. Photography: Alexander Fetsov
We filmed the process of cloud formation on Ai-Petri Mountain in Crimea this way. For that the help of a team of climbers to pull the thin cable, along which our camera moved, was needed.
Republic of Crimea, Ai-Petri Mountain. Photography: Alexandra Zhmutskaya
«There's no such thing as bad weather. But the film crew still needs to wait for the right weather. We were very lucky: we managed to film clouds form below in the abyss, rise up and sweep by the camera».
Anton Zhdanov
the director of the film «Russia. A Virtual Tour»
Republic of Crimea, Ai-Petri Mountain. Photography: Alexandra Zhmutskaya
On the Putorana plateau, the film crew was looking for the most beautiful waterfalls. Before launching a quadcopter with a camera, they tried to "gain its favor" a bit by playing mouth harp.
Lake on the Putorana Plateau, Krasnoyarsk Territory Photography: Alexandra Zhmutskaya
Irkindinsky Waterfall, the Putorana Plateau, Krasnoyarsk Territory. Photography: Alexandra Zhmutskaya
The most difficult was the filming in the Dalnevostochny Morskoy Nature Reserve. To neutralize the effects of light refraction in water, a cascade of cameras looking similar to a sea urchin was constructed for underwater panoramic shooting.
Primorsky Territory, the Sea of Japan. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Vityaz Bay, the Sea of Japan, Primorsky Territory. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
The next filming location was the Caucasus Nature Reserve. There are many tourists in the reserve - about 300 thousand per year. All of them know well that it is not allowed to touch the rhododendrons blooming on the slopes of Roza Peak and the Aibga Ridge. You can only film – it was exactly what we did.
Caucasus Nature Reserve, Krasnodar Territory. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Aibga Ridge, Krasnodar Territory. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Another spot was the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve, located on the coast and 550 islands of the Barents and White Seas. Here, the film crew climbed the steep rocky shores in search of bird colonies: rookeries of eiders, urias, and black-legged kittiwakes.
Gavrilov Islands, Kandalaksha State Nature Reserve, Murmansk Oblast. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Gavrilov Islands, Kandalaksha State Nature Reserve, Murmansk Oblast. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Kola Peninsula, Kandalaksha Bay, Murmansk Oblast. Photography: Sergey Shandin
Kola Peninsula, Kandalaksha Bay, Murmansk Oblast. Photography: Sergey Shandin
There were also blooming lotuses in the Volga Delta, landscapes of Kamchatka, the ice and the azure of Lake Baikal, and much more.
The film premiered in September 2019 in the Zaryadye park in Moscow during the IV Festival of the Russian Geographical Society.
Volga River Delta, Astrakhan Biosphere Reserve. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
Volga River Delta, Astrakhan Biosphere Reserve. Photography: Andrey Kamenev
The film was shown on a giant panoramic screen 5 meters high, with a cylinder circumference of 22 meters. It was as if the screen enveloped the audience. The spectators watched the movie from the inside, as if being in the movie themselves. The participation effect was created without a special headset: the waves of the Barents Sea were sweeping past you, clouds were rising within reach of a hand, horses were running, motley seals were diving. In order to adapt the film to this unusual screen, shooting had been done in a special way.
Photography: Alexey Mikhailov
«Usually we shoot a one-piece 360 ° panoramic video. But for this screen we needed to shoot a narrow part, a strip measuring 30 °. On site, it's quite difficult to determine what will be in the frame. Soviet cinema equipment helped us - a universal viewfinder that allows you to see what gets into your lens right during shooting».
Alexander Fetsov
The director of photography of the film «Russia. A Virtual Tour»
Photography: Alexey Mikhailov
«The film is taking us to another reality, far from a noisy metropolis. We see the nature of Russia from such angles and viewpoints that are often inaccessible even to experienced travelers. One moment you are flying over the ice pressure ridges of Lake Baikal, and after a couple of minutes you are already walking along the Valley of Geysers in Kamchatka, and then you are admiring the Astrakhan lotuses. You are literally immersing yourself in this film, feeling like you are standing on a mountain, swimming in a boat or sitting in a tent».
Elena Voitsekhovskaya
The head of the organizational and analytical department of the Zaryadye park
After the premiere in Moscow, the film about the journey became a traveler itself. The film was sent on a tour through the country, where it was watched in specially organized VR cinemas. At the same time the exhibition «Trip across Russia. 360» was opened, composed of photographs of the film crew, and telling about the places where the film was shot and about the filming process itself. Kazan, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg - tens and hundreds of thousands of people saw the exhibition in every city.

Finally, the film can be watched on the Internet. In addition, it is still broadcast in the "Zaryadye" Park Media Center in the very center of Moscow.

Filmed by Planetpics Media House




The credits:
Text, design, layout: Natalya Babakhina, Natalia Nikolaeva
Editor: Victor Dyatlikovich
Proofreader: Igor Ptitsyn
Photography: Alexandra Zhmutskaya, Andrey Kamenev,
Alexey Mikhailov, Vadim Osipov, Alexander Fetsov, Sergey Shandin