One of the best VR experiences on Oculus Quest is also completely free. Alex Honnold: the Soloist VR is a 3D 360 video documentary about free soloing — rock climbing without ropes or any help. It is truly inspiring. Here’s the trailer video:
Free climber Alex Honnold has previously been the subject of a rock climbing documentary, Free Solo, which won an Oscar in 2019 for the Best Documentary Feature. But in this video, filmmaker Jonathan Griffith shot in 3D 360 video to bring the audience closer than ever to the experience of free climbing.
To make this video, Jonathan shot with the Insta360 Titan, a 10K 3D 360 camera with eight Micro Four Thirds sensors. The Titan’s high resolution made it possible to capture details even in distant mountains, which was crucial for capturing the beauty of this death-defying sport.
The video’s emphasis on climbing solo meant that the filmmaking team had to be completely out of the frame in every shot, which is difficult with a 360 camera in extreme environments such as the face of a mountain. Moreover, using a 3D 360 camera presented additional challenges, one of which was that the camera had to be perfectly level in every shot. Furthermore, the camera had to be steady to avoid viewer discomfort. With these requirements, the rig for capturing the video took over a year to fine tune.
The Soloist VR is a triumph not just in technical achievement but also in its storytelling. Besides the breathtaking scenery, what I really love about the Soloist is how it puts into perspective the challenges I deal with, which appear miniscule in comparison to the challenges that Alex undertakes willingly. Watching this film has inspired me to do better and work harder to achieve my goals.