‘Thin Ice VR’: The Greatest Story of Survival

‘Thin Ice VR’: The Greatest Story of Survival
Image: Sir Ernest Shackelton

Anybody who’d like to experience something uniquely unforgettable and exciting head straight to the Australian Museum for Thin Ice VR!

Thin Ice VR is an immersive virtual reality film and exhibition about the greatest story of survival ever told. Winner of the Best VR Film at Cannes and at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2022, this is an educational family friendly exhibition.

Documentary filmmaker, environmental scientist and adventurer Tim Jarvis takes audiences on a Trans- Antarctic expedition reenactment, tracing the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s doomed Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition aboard the Endurance in 1914. Disaster struck when Shackleton’s ship became trapped in the ice for 10 months and ultimately shattered sinking in the Weddell Sea off Antarctica on November 21, 1915.

The crew of 27 survived but what followed was an incredible story of resilience, courage and endurance and the challenges they had to overcome for survival. What makes this such a compelling story is how Shackleton managed to return all his crew home safely.

Jarvis said that the Antarctica is a great backdrop to any environmental story. He has travelled there 13 times, enjoys the adventure and has seen much change due to climate change which is also reflected in the documentary.

“Shackleton’s journey of survival is a lesson in determination, optimism and the leadership needed to prevail against the odds. A Hundred years ago, Shackleton’s goal was to save his men from the ice. Today is the ice that needs saving from the human-induced climate change that threatens it,” warned Jarvis.

A clear and clever way of highlighting the effects of climate change through this VR experience was to show a glacier today as what it is, just dirt with Jarvis and the audience member standing next to him watching through the goggles. Over the next 20 seconds the glacier is digitally rebuilt to the levels which it was for Shackleton.

“At this point you are standing in an extremely high crevasse and within 10 seconds it shrinks back to where we are at ground level, which highlights the urgency in tackling climate change,” explained Jarvis.

This mesmerizing virtual reality experience will be screened in a specially built VR Theatre which seats 25 people.

The 22-minute running time is just above the edge where people will be comfortable wearing goggles on their head, and the sound will be heard through speakers as in conventional cinemas. The reasoning for this is that if goggles and earphones had to be worn simultaneously, troubleshooting would be cumbersome.

There won’t be a need to scramble for the ‘best seat in the house’ as everybody has the same vision owing to this innovative and ever-evolving technology, which is an extraordinary achievement in storytelling for all audiences to enjoy.

The VR experience will be screened in 2D so that people who are not able to wear goggles for great lengths of time may continue to enjoy the cinematic experience once the goggles are removed. There are scenes which recreate the expedition and as the journey progresses there are intermittent narrations by Jarvis.

Ultimately, Jarvis believes that we are heading in the wrong direction very rapidly as far as climate change is concerned but is more optimistic that all the solutions exist and need to be employed at full scale.

“We want a healthy planet, room for everyone, opportunity and space for habitat – we just need to change the mission of how we go about doing things.”

July 6 – Oct 13. Australian Museum, 1 William St Sydney
Book now at: australianmuseum.net.au

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