Ethihad Airways Unites VR Innovation With Hollywood Glamour

Editor’s Note: You can now watch the 360 degree video on YouTube above or via vr.etihad.com. There is also an updated version in stereoscopic sound since 17 June. To guarantee the full experience, viewers can view the film using a virtual reality headset, such as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.

What happens when you put together a great team of filmmakers, an Academy Award-winning actress and let them have free play with latest 360 video technology and Virtual Reality (VR) innovation? You get a stunning five-minute feature film that makes the brand associated with it setting a high bar in luxury travel and marketing.

Now, this is something you will want to see.

Created for Ethihad Airways to promote its new Airbus A380 fleet flying between New York and Abu Dhabi, the highly anticipated film “Reimagine” immerses its viewers in a fully experiential journey following Nicole Kidman through one of its new Airbus A380s   The 360-degree virtual reality film also marks the first time a Hollywood actor has starred in a fully immersive virtual reality movie.

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The airline has used cutting-edge technology and multidisciplinary mediums in the feature to bring to life its acclaimed guest experience and hospitality story by engaging the consumer in various sensory interactions onboard the virtual flight. Each scene in the film takes on a theme intended to stimulate the senses of light, sound, motion, and conversation.

Nicole Kidman, Academy Award winning actress and Etihad Airways’ brand ambassador, said: “The film is a culmination of Etihad’s vision to tell the airline’s story in an extremely innovative way and a commitment to engaging with the public as has never been attempted by an airline before. It was a great challenge but one which has definitely paid off and it was great to be part of such an exciting project.”

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Throughout the experience, the viewer meets and engages with a number of characters including the actress herself, her film director, an opera singer and even an Emirati guest with a falcon in First Class. The journey also provides personal interactions with the Savoy-trained Butler in The Residence, the airline’s luxurious private three-room cabin; the inflight Chef in First Class; the Food and Beverage Manager in Business Class; and the Flying Nanny, trained by the Norland College in the United Kingdom.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said: “We want to share Etihad’s story in a completely new way, using technology to make our consumers a part of the narrative and to experience an Etihad Airways A380 flight first-hand, from anywhere.

“The film demonstrates how, as an innovative brand, we continue to break down the barriers of convention and lead the way in intelligent communication and best practice not just within the aviation industry, but across the fields of marketing, communication and technology.”

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The adventure takes the viewer through the twin-decked aircraft and covers its luxurious interiors including Economy Class, Business Class, and First Class, before concluding with a focus on Nicole Kidman enjoying the unique features of The Residence.

Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Marketing, said: “In December 2014, we completely reimagined the travel experience with the launch of our new A380 fleet, setting a new standard in innovative design, service and technology. This was followed in 2015 by a tremendously successful adverting campaign starring Nicole Kidman.

“This immersive VR film is a massive step-change in the way we present the Etihad Airways brand and product to the consumer using highly innovative new mediums. Based on the success of our recent campaign with Nicole, the decision to take this partnership to the next level was an obvious one.”

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The film, filmed exclusively in Abu Dhabi, was created over a six-month period using state-of-the-art VR technology. An Etihad Airways A380 was fully customised prior to filming; overhead lockers, seats and other sections of the aircraft’s interior were removed to allow for the installation of cutting-edge Red Dragon cameras, which were used to perfectly capture the actress’ movement through the aircraft. Hundreds of individual lights were required to ensure smooth and uninterrupted shots.

Etihad Airways collaborated with the Barbarian Group, a subsidiary of Cheil Worldwide, and the creative digital production company MediaMonks to produce the film. The feature was directed by the renowned husband and wife directing duo Anthony Atanasio and Valerie Martinez. The film used pioneering filming techniques to ensure a seamless production with no warping or stitches, achieving unrivalled VR results.

Ola Björling, MediaMonks’ Global Director of VR, said: “As the most multidisciplinary medium there is, virtual reality relies more heavily on craft and execution than anything that has gone before it. We believe the display of artistry in every facet of this production is setting a new benchmark for live-action VR.”

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