Superblog

Miles Partnership & Superswell VR Do Oklahoma's Chickasaw Nation, the Kentucky State Parks & Visit Wichita in 360˚

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Superswell VR couldn't be prouder to be working with Miles Partnership, "a strategic marketing company focused exclusively on travel and tourism."

Though it may have seemed quiet from the Superswell camp, it’s been anything but. Over the past few months, Miles Partnership contracted Superswell to help them on various projects across the nation.

It's quite exciting to see DMOs and the travel industry begin to take notice of, embrace, and employ new 360 mediums.

Needless to say, the future of travel is looking Super Swell! (See what we did there…)

We cannot overstate how humbled and eternally grateful we are to Miles Partnership for having us help them on these projects.

For some more words and a gallery of some stills from the journeys so far, click here to check out a post from Superswell VR founder Wasim Muklashy. And the 360s are coming soon to a Google Street View near you…


Superswell VR's Sitka Center for Art & Ecology Campus Tour is Live!!!

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Superswell VR, was insanely fortunate to be asked by the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology to produce a 360 virtual reality tour of their campus - a campus that sits at the trailhead of one of the most spectacular spots on the Oregon coast - Cascade Head.

The Sitka Center is a pretty impressive and special little place. With it's robust ecology & arts-inspired programming and its artist-in-residence programs and its location...oh its location...you couldn't find a better way to spend a weekend...or a week...or a month.

This is a haven.

An oasis buried on the edge of the forest where the trees dramatically meet the ocean…

For a full account, complete with pictures and more about Sitka, click here to check out Superswell VR founder Wasim Muklashy’s post about the experience.

And with that, here’s Sitka founder Frank Boyden to show you around campus…

Woohoo! Superswell VR is now a Trusted Google Street View Company!

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We've got some pretty cool stuffs to share - Superswell VR has just been approved and classified as a Trusted Google Street View company. What this means is that if you're a business, destination or organization looking for exposure, as Trusted providers by Google, we are able to help you gain visibility quickly and easily by photographing your space with Google-approved 360 cameras to provide verified content for Google Street View and Google Maps. If you, or a company or destination you are affiliated with or know, needs verified Google Street View services, please reach out to us and let us know! Whether 360 photography, virtual tours, or a drive-by to update Google Street View and Google Maps with your businesses new look, we look forward to helping you rock it! 

Superswell VR & ECO - Inspiring, And Getting Inspired By, Mother Nature's Future Stewards!

Some of the most important and purposeful work we can think of involves inspiring the future of our environment's stewards to learn about, care for, and share their care for, Mother Nature. And there's a local non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon doing just that - Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors (ECO).

Through both in-classroom ecology lessons and hands-on ecological enrichment programs, over the past 12 years, ECO has inspired over 20,000 elementary school students to connect to our natural world. TWENTY THOUSAND! What this insanely talented and dedicated group of creative and passionate administrators and educators have put together and managed to accomplish has been nothing short of incredible. Needless to say, Superswell VR cannot be prouder and more humbled to be working with ECO.

Our co-founder, Wasim Muklashy, was fortunate enough to be asked to join their board in an explicit effort to help shepherd the future of our future ecologists, biologists, environmentalists, conservationists, and sustainability advocates. In addition to photographing some of their events and activities, ECO has enlisted Superswell VR to create a few short 360 virtual reality video experiences to help people understand the work that they have been doing.

So, for an idea of what they do, here's a small peek into Ecology in Classrooms & Outdoors - for the first time, through the magic of 360 video and virtual reality, you can join ECO in the classroom where the student scientists learn about invasive species and organic and inorganic matter, as well as on a service learning project with Friends of Trees, where the student scientists get to see in person and put into action what they learned in while helping plant non-invasive trees in a local park.

To learn more about ECO and what they're doing, check out www.EcologyOutdoors.org

Superswell VR + North American Travel Journalists Association = YAAASSS!

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Last month, Superswell VR co-founder Wasim Muklashy was asked to head out to Branson, Missouri, the location for the 16th annual North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) conference, to deliver a presentation entitled "How Virtual Reality Is Changing The Travel Industry." 

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And it went really really well!

So well, in fact, that we've grabbed this one by the horns, forged a partnership, and began cookin' a few things up together.

More on that later, but be excited...be be excited!

Thanks to NATJA, the Hilton Branson Convention Center, and the Branson Chamber of Commerce for all your hospitality. Thanks to you, we had a blast in the Ozarks!

Flirting With Mother Nature at Hotel El Ganzo - All in The Name of Art. A Mexico 360 Video Virtual Reality Experience (or Two)

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“Welcome to Hotel El Ganzo!! 

We regret to inform you that we are expecting a tropical storm called Norma that is forecasted to become a category one hurricane during the night of Saturday, September 16th.

Hotel El Ganzo does not have a hurricane shelter, however we have made arrangements with a hotel nearby to receive you so that you have access to a certified shelter.

We will be sending updates to your room about the upcoming storm as soon as we receive them, as well as any official notification from the local government.

Welcome!”

So this was the email we received from the client the night before our flights. What was supposed to be virtual reality video project entitled “A Perfect Day at El Ganzo" was quickly turning into "A Perfect Storm at El Ganzo”.

The frustrating part on their end was that they spent the better part of the week before cleaning up from the previous storm, preparing for our arrival to have the resort camera ready (and remember…in 360 video, the camera sees everything!). 

The frustrating part on our end was that that was the day we were supposed to fly out, and Norma was upgraded to a hurricane mere hours before our flights were scheduled to go. As we intently watched and wondered and refreshed our Weather Underground reports, it came down to making a last minute executive decision to cancel our flights and re-book for a few days later. After consulting with the client and the hotel, we ultimately figured that’s the best idea. We were able to get some of our rental equipment re-routed and scheduled, and crossed our fingers hoping for the best. 

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While we sat at the airport 72 hours later, we received yet another email: “We cannot guarantee that all the services will be available during your stay. We might have power outages and the access to town may be interrupted."

Considering this was a video production, that could, well…eh…pose a bit of an issue. 

The result? One glorious week at San Jose del Cabo’s El Ganzo Hotel. El Ganzo sits on the other, quieter, more-civilized side of the Baja peninsula from Cabo San Lucas and it's no ordinary place. Not only have artists like Thievery Corporation and Telefunkt recorded in their underground recording studio, but they have an artist-in-residence program in which they invite artists of different disciplines (including NBA star Desmond Mason...who knew!?) to stay in the rooms and decorate them however they please. Needless to say, we ran into some pretty unique stuffs!! 

In the two virtual reality 360 videos we produced, you’ll be treated to “A Perfect Day At El Ganzo” hosted by our one and only Joan Jetsetter, and an exclusive “El Ganzo Art Tour,” which, for the first time, allows the public into the rooms to see some of the art that is normally reserved only for those staying in those rooms. Make sure to use your Google Cardboard viewer, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream viewer, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive for the best experience. While the 360 videos are fun to drag around on your browser or phone, it’s MUCH more fun to actually be there…

Ultimately, luck was on our side, as the storm ended the day before we flew in, and the next one began precisely as we were sitting at the airport waiting for our flights back home. You’d never guess that our trip was bookended, literally to the day, by a hurricane and tropical storm. 

It’s also worth noting, our production was during the off-season in order to be able to have much of the hotel to ourselves as we shot the films, so don’t expect the same when you book your trip to El Ganzo. 

If you’d like to see all the images we shot as well, check out this post from one of our producers and photographers Wasim Muklashy. And if you want to read more about the hotel, it’s history, and it’s commitment to sustainability, check out this article he wrote for Palisades Magazine as well. 

Finally…BOOK YOUR STAY at Hotel El Ganzo! This place is the most unique property we’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. And we’re quite certain it’ll be yours too. 

Backpacking Olympic National Park's High Divide Loop in 360 Virtual Reality Video

Superswell VR co-founder Wasim Muklashy and a couple of his buddies recently backpacked Olympic National Park's High Divide Trail, an 18-mile loop that takes you through old-growth forests, sub-alpine meadows and valleys filled with alpine lake after lake and rivers and streams, rocky ridge-lines affording you a peek at Mount Olympus, and so much more.

Well, to save you a few mosquito bites and blisters (albeit they were WELLLLLLLLLLL worth it), they recorded it in 360 virtual reality video. So strap on a headset, plop back into your favorite swivel chair, and...eh...get outside?

For a full write-up and a ton of pictures, including some 360 images, head over to his site and blog, learn from their mistakes, and start planning!

Spring and Summer's are a comin'...

Telling The Forests' Stories In VR - Bringing Science Out Of The Labs And Into The Living Room

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Science, nature, and a sustainable future are all topics that we hold near and dear to us at Superswell VR, so we could not have been more excited when the North American Forest Partnership invited us to their latest conference in Portland, Oregon to show their members what's possible in virtual reality.

In staying true to their mission of sustainability, the first day found us at the offices of Ankrom Moisan Architects, an architecture firm dedicated to sustainable and communal design, and on the second day, we made our way to the Left Bank Annex, a Portland event space that prides itself on its sustainable design and practices.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to bring science out of the labs and into the living rooms, helping connect our youth to the outdoors, nature, travel, science, and why and how it's all connected to us, and this opportunity to show various members from all corners of the forestry sector was just another step in that direction. Furthermore, it was extremely encouraging for them to reach out to us with this, for this solidifies that VR tech is rightfully being looked at more and more to tell the world's stories, and we're excited at a future of using the medium to help tell nature's stories, helping stoke people's curiosity in the process.

We owe a great deal of gratitude to Walk In The Woods and Oregon Forest Resource Institute's Executive Director Paul Barnum for making it possible, and the wonderful staff for making everything run so smoothly.

Last, and certainly not least...not by a longshot...we'd couldn't have done it with you Samsung. Thanks so much for the help and support.

We look forward to bringing you the forests' stories in VR.

Let Us Introduce You to the Santa Monica Mountains. A Virtual Reality 360 Video Tour.

When Superswell VR co-founder and professional photographer Wasim Muklashy made the choice to move up to the Pacific Northwest he knew he had to pay homage to the Santa Monica Mountains - home to his beloved Topanga Canyon. 

"No question about it, that range played one of the most pivotal roles in the development from one version of me to another," Muklashy states. "From living in the city all my life, the transition from a reactionary existence to one where I suddenly found myself with the luxury to process my thoughts and existence and directions was the greatest gift life could have given me."

So come along with Wasim as he gives you a tour of some of his favorite spots in the range. If you've got a Google Cardboard, hit the little headset icon in the bottom right of the screen on your mobile device, and if you've got a Samsung Gear VR, use this link: https://samsungvr.com/view/r_kopT9C4iE

Finally, make sure to follow us on Twitter, InstagramFacebook and YouTube for more adventures...

Superswell VR + OutdoorProject.com = So. Much. Yes.

If you haven't noticed, we at Superswell VR like to get our adventure on, and when it comes to the outdoors, who better to team up with than Outdoor Project. Here's a recent hike we did to Oregon's beautiful Clackamas & Memaloose Falls in the Mount Hood Forest in, yup, full 360˚ virtual reality video. Ropes, mud, bridges, tunnels...this one had it all. So strap on your hiking boots, a couple liters of water, a snack, some sunscreen, and your VR headset and join us while we do it again...and again...and again...

And while you're at it, be sure to follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook and YouTube for more adventures...

Enjoy Roskilde Festival, One of Europe's Wildest Parties, in 360˚

 ©Wasim Muklashy

©Wasim Muklashy

Roskilde Festival is Scandinavia's WILDEST party, and it's happening for the 45th time beginning June 24. If you're headed out to Denmark, or just curious what the experience is like, this one's for you. Come along for the ride as we explore one of the world's largest music festivals in 360 degrees!

If you've got a Gear VR headset and want to check out the shenanigans we found ourselves caught up in at last year's festival, jump in via SamsungVR. If you'd rather watch in your browser, or if you have a Google Cardboard enjoy via YouTube

Be sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what we're up to.

Dive Doug Aitken's 'Underwater Pavilions' in 360 Degrees!

By Skye Mayring

The ocean is the most important ecosystem on our planet, and Doug Aitken isn't about to let us forget that. The internationally renowned contemporary artist has created "Underwater Pavilions," a traveling exhibit that you can only see by diving or snorkeling. The exhibit consists of three swim-in, swim-out sculptures that utilize a mix of rugged and reflective materials. Part of each pavilion is mirrored, surrounding divers with a kaleidoscopic seascape.

Produced by Parley for the Oceans and presented in partnership with The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the work acts as a lens through which to view, experience and interact with the ocean terrain. The artist hopes to raise awareness about the fragility of the oceans while celebrating its beauty.  

The exhibit debuted off the coast of Catalina Island—the first of several tropical locations where 'Underwater Pavilions' will anchor. We made a day of it and took the Catalina Express from San Pedro and back (approximately $35 each way). Access to the installations is free and open to the public, but you'll need to be a strong swimmer with the right gear (scuba or snorkel) in order to fully appreciate it.

When we travel we need to be aware of our impact on the environment and how every action has a reaction. Swimming through the pavilions makes you feel connected to the ocean—it’s is a living, breathing thing. 

Each person who visits is guaranteed to have a different experience: The algae is constantly evolving, the currents and the tides are constantly changing, and that all plays a part in the depth and positioning of the installations. You can find out if "Underwater Pavilions" is coming to an ocean near you here. In the meantime, dive through the installation with us off the coast of Catalina Island. It's pretty unreal!

Note: This is an immersive 360-degree experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device or desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

The pre-production, field production and post-production of our "Underwater Pavilions" shoot were a collaborative effort. The project was made possible by superswell VR, Radiant Images, Virtuality Lab, Diving Catalina, Catalina Express and Catalina Island Company. Special thanks to Eve Cohen, Jimmie Rhee, Breanna Wilson, Gerardo Lechuga, MOCA Los Angeles and the Doug Aitken Workshop.

Drifting the Day Away With Under-the-Radar Adventures LA

 Drifting basics: be sure to scream a lot. Image courtesy of  Wasim Muklashly .

Drifting basics: be sure to scream a lot. Image courtesy of Wasim Muklashly.

By Skye Mayring

At superswell VR, we're always trying out new things. In an effort to keep it fresh, we're debuting a new 360-degree video series called Under-the-Radar Adventures hosted by Breanna Wilson and me (aka Joan Jetsetter). The series susses out the lesser-known, knock-your-socks-off experiences in cities across the globe in immersive, 360 degrees. Viewers feel like they are along for the ride—in the middle of all the action—while discovering completely new attractions in their hometowns. The end goal is to inspire YOU to get off the couch, explore your own city and spread positivity and good vibes.

Our first season focuses on off-the-beaten-track experiences in the greater Los Angeles area. In episode one, we strap on our seatbelts, tighten our helmets and get behind the wheel at Drift 101. Drifting pros Naoki Kobayashi and David Kim think they can teach us how to drift in less than 20 minutes. Lunacy? We think so.

Note: This is an immersive 360 experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device, or in the Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Internet Explorer desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

More Underwater VR Goodness - Doug Aitken's Underwater Pavilions

 photo ©skye mayring

photo ©skye mayring

By Wasim Muklashy

Well that was something! And a crazy fun something at that! Last week, the Superswell® VR team braved the Pacific Ocean's winter waters to capture a cutting-edge underwater sculpture exhibit in 360˚ VR video.

 photo ©eve cohen

photo ©eve cohen

Superswell® VR's own Joan Jetsetter and Wasim Muklashy joined forces with Radiant Images, Diving Catalina, Catalina Express, Santa Catalina Island Company, travel influencer Breanna J Wilson and cinematographer Eve Cohen to capture Doug Aitken's brand-new installation, "Underwater Pavilions." The geometric swim-in, swim out exhibit was created with the help of MOCA Los Angeles and ocean conservation group Parley for the Oceans. Visitors can strap on their dive gear and discover the three temporary structures—which were created to raise awareness about the fragility of the oceans—in the City of Avalon Dive Park.

We're working hard to ensure you get to experience "Underwater Pavilions" in virtual reality as soon as possible. Check back here often, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay in the (superswell®) loop!

360˚ Video Journalism At Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

By Wasim Muklashy

As a co-founder of Superswell® VR and producer of virtual reality and 360˚ video, I’m am completely and continually fascinated by the various applications of how this technology can be used. While we’ve been using this for a lot of travel content, I was recently asked by AJ+, a very popular millennial news source, if I had any interest in heading out to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to cover the Dakota Access Pipeline situations. 

360˚ video for journalism? I couldn't refuse.

If you’re not familiar with what's happening at Standing Rock, just Google “NoDAPL” or “Dakota Access” or “Standing Rock.” There’s no shortage of information. 

In a nutshell, a pipeline that is set to carry oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota through four states to Illinois is meeting resistance at a crucial juncture where it is set to cross the Missouri River. The pipeline was originally routed to cross the Missouri River about 35 miles north near Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, but, and this part is crucial to note, residents feared it could threaten their water, so it got re-routed here … in Cannonball, North Dakota, on disputed Native American land less than a half mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where it immediately threatens not only the water supply of the Lakota Indians on this reservation, but also up to 17 million American residents downstream.

Additionally, the route of the pipeline has already destroyed sacred Native American sites and burial grounds, and is currently routed to destroy even more. 

Anyhow, the story has been gaining more and more international attention, and this experienced ended up being one of the most profound of my life. 

Click here to read the whole story, "My Stand At Standing Rock - Guns & Oil Have Driven Us Apart, Perhaps Water Is Bringing Us Back Together."

Denmark's Finest Spa Hotel?

 A live pianist plays the hotel lobby every Sunday afternoon. Image courtesy of Kurhotel Skodsborg.

A live pianist plays the hotel lobby every Sunday afternoon. Image courtesy of Kurhotel Skodsborg.

By Skye Mayring

Kurhotel Skodsborg is the Danish Rivera’s premiere health and wellness retreat, with a history that spans centuries. 

King Frederic VII of Denmark acquired the Skodsborg county estate in the mid-1800s to summer here with his wife, and vestiges of the past add both character and a sense of place to the property. The King’s Hall—where state meetings and banquets were held—has been painstakingly restored according to the estate’s original drawings, so it looks just as it did in the 19th century. You can spot the king's seal and a bust of the king himself if you look closely. 

In addition to its ties to Danish royalty, Kurhotel Skodsborg is known for its state-of-the-art spa facilities, designed by Henning Larsen Architects. The minimalist design is based on principles of a healthy life: light, water, air, nutrition, exercise and rest. 

Join Superswell® VR on this property tour as we see Kurhotel Skodsborg's spacious guestrooms, spa, rooftop terrace and other elegant spaces in 360 degrees.

Note: This is an immersive 360 experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device, or in the Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Internet Explorer desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

Ancient Sites of Huahine, Tahiti, in VR / 360 video

By Skye Mayring

Huahine may not be a household name like Bora Bora or Tahiti—that’s because this sleepy island in the South Pacific is one of Polynesia’s best-kept secrets. Formally home to Polynesian royalty, Huahine has the highest concentration of  pre-European marae (sacred meeting places) in all of Polynesia. 

See the ancient marae and learn about the ceremonies preformed here, visit the scenic shores where the Europeans first landed and find out where religion started on this island. Your local guide Manava with Island Eco Tours will share the culture of his ancestors with you, from tales of battles and human sacrifice to the folkloric birth of Huahine. 

Note: This is an immersive 3D virtual reality experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device, or in the Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Internet Explorer desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

 

Swim With Bora Bora's Reef Sharks and Sting Rays in VR

By Skye Mayring

Bora Bora’s lagoon has enchanted visitors for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. An ideal way to experience its legendary turquoise waters is with a full- or half-day snorkel safari with Lagoon Service. During the first part of the excursion, you'll find yourself snorkeling around coral gardens, teeming with tropical fish and getting an up-close look at endemic stingrays and even black-tip reef sharks. Don’t worry, they’re friendly. 

After snorkeling the morning away, your guide takes you to a private motu, or small island. Then it’s time for a lunch of Tahitian specialties, such as fresh poisson cru—the national dish of the Islands of Tahiti. This Polynesian dish is made with fresh coconut milk, raw fish, vegetables and fresh-squeezed lime. Watch as your guide shows you how to expertly prepare this meal at the water’s edge, and don’t forget to look down to see tiny fish swimming at your feet.

Note: This is an immersive 3D virtual reality experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device, or in the Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or Internet Explorer desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

Bora Bora's Iconic Overwater Bungalows in 360°

By Skye Mayring

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the overwater bungalow with superswell VR's 360° video tour of the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa

What image comes to mind when you think of Bora Bora? Chances are it’s the overwater bungalow—French Polynesia’s signature accommodations that just happen to be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Unlike a typical hotel room, the thatched-roof overwater bungalows of Bora Bora sit above turquoise lagoon waters. Each bungalow offers a glass-bottom feature, so you can actually spot tropical fish swimming beneath your feet. In this VR video, see the overwater bungalows of the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort & Spa and other highlights of the resort including a canoe breakfast, beach activities and a killer sunset.

Note: This is an immersive 3D virtual reality experience. For better results, view in a Google Cardboard using the YouTube app on your mobile device, or in the Firefox, Chrome, Opera or Internet Explorer desktop browser. For the best experience, please visit us on Samsung VR in your Gear VR headset.

Virtual Reality—Behind the Scenes

 Image courtesy of Gregoire Le Bacon and Tahiti Toursime

Image courtesy of Gregoire Le Bacon and Tahiti Toursime

By Skye Mayring

It’s hard to imagine a destination that could look better in virtual reality than the islands of Tahiti, from its coral gardens and overwater bungalows to its epic purple sunsets. Naturally, when superswell VR was given a prototype of the world’s first true 3­-D omniview camera, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed straight to the island paradise of French Polynesia. 

But shooting with a prototype camera in unpredictable conditions wasn't without its challenges (i.e. "dude, this sh*t is hard").

So what happens when you expose a prototype VR camera to extreme heat, high humidity, salt water, aggressive wind and sharks? Watch the video below to find out.