Good news for "Game of Thrones" junkies heading to Austin for SXSW: HBO's breathtaking virtual-reality visit to the top of the show's giant wall of ice is going to be there too, and it's better than before.
We got a peek at the experience, which was created by experiential agency Relevent with production duties handled by the Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore, the wizards behind "Gravity." It is not for the faint-hearted. For the sake of verite (and possibly to keep you from later bumping into things), the experience starts you off in a real-life rickety elevator-like space. Users who strap on a gas-mask-like Oculus Rift headset and put on a pair of earphones then find themselves transported to Castle Black in the shadow of The Wall, the massive fortification that protects the realm from "wildlings" to the north.
You seem to rise 700 feet, via Oculus Rift, and unlike an earlier version that quickly brought you back down again, you "walk" along on the wall and peer over the edge. From the distance, flames are thrown your way. It's crazily realistic, and if you have vertigo, you might have issues.
The experience is part of the larger "Game of Thrones" exhibit in Austin, which will feature artifacts and props from the show.
Elana Loewenthal, director of international marketing at HBO, told Ad Age that the channel has always wanted to immerse fans in the world of the show.
The SXSW experience is just the beginning of the possibilities for brand-use of Oculus, said Mike Woods, head of digital at Framestore. There are limitations with the technology right now. Headset makers caution against encouraging actual movement as part of campaigns, for example.
But the "Game of Thrones" campaign is special because it shows Oculus' possibilities beyond gaming, according to Tony Berger, CEO and founder of Relevent. "Everyone says that it's a gaming platform," he said. "But the possibilities are endless for an entertainment platform."