The Day the World Changed — created by VR visionaries Gabo Arora and Saschka Unseld — poses the question of what the catastrophes of the past can teach us about the future. The VR imagery brings the full catastrophic impact of the atomic bomb burst over Hiroshima in World War II. The bombing and the subsequent destruction of Nagasaki brought an end to the Second World War and saved countless American lives, but it also ushered in the age of nuclear weapons.

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But VR is a modern medium. The filmmakers say their project shows how virtual reality can go beyond mere theatrics to spark critical social conversations and, ultimately, change. The film was produced with support from the Saul Zaentz Innovation Fund in Film and Media Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and it is making its official premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The AR/VR studio Tomorrow Never Knows is presenting The Day the World Changed in collaboration with International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

Built as an “Interactive Virtual Reality Memorial,” the VR film brings viewers the harrowing impressions of the victims and survivors of atomic bombings and nuclear arms testing through firsthand testimonies, data visualizations, 3D scanning, and photogrammetry. The film will run in the Virtual Arcade that runs April 20-29 at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. The VR will be available on SteamVR. It was built with the Unity game engine.

Co-created by award-winning filmmakers and virtual reality pioneers Arora and Unseld and produced by Jennifer Tiexiera, the social, interactive experience pairs groundbreaking technologies with rare survivor testimonies from Hiroshima to bring the terror of nuclear war to vivid life.

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Added Unseld, “We want this to be an unwavering, uncomfortable experience for people. We want to turn on its head our obsessions and fetishizing of nuclear superiority as a symbol of pride in one’s country, but also to recognize the power of the virtual reality medium. By placing the general public inside the ruins of a tragic event like Hiroshima, we hope to activate a groundswell of support for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and to help ICAN generate momentum in their mission towards elimination.”

The Day the World Changed began as an original commission by Nobel Media to showcase the work of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization ICAN, a coalition that works to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.