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Image credit: Sky

David Attenborough's hologram will help you study fossils in VR

'Hold the World' will show you rare objects from London's Natural History Museum.

Sir David Attenborough is no stranger to VR. The beloved naturalist and TV presenter has worked on immersive, look-where-you-like films for the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, the American Museum of Natural History and Google. Now, the documentarian is teaming up with Sky and the NHM for a new experience called Hold the World, which allows you to pick up fossils and other rare objects. As you turn them over, a "hologram" of Attenborough will pop up and explain their importance.

Sky is working with VR and "immersive content production studio" Factory 42 on the project, as well as Dream Reality Interactive and Talesmith. A teaser image released by Sky (above) shows Attenborough with an Oculus Rift and Touch controller, however Dan Smith, cofounder and creative director at Factory 42, said it could work on "several" different headsets.

Attenborough will be shot using 'volumetric capture,' a VR filmmaking technique that uses over 100 cameras, pointing inwards, to record a person and their movement in 3D space. The approach allows developers to blend an actor's likeness with video game-style environments other visual effects. Smith said Hold the World will take place in the NHM's "beautiful backrooms," which will be captured using photogrammetry, a combination of LIDAR (a laser-based equivalent of radar) and 360-degree photography. The objects, which include bones and skulls, will be recreated in a similar fashion, combining photogrammetry with some 3D modelling work.

Hold the World will go into production later this year, and there's no word on when the experience will be ready for the public. "We are always looking for innovative ways to share our collection, and Hold the World offers the chance to explore it as never before," Sir Michael Dixon, director of the NHM said. "Objects in the museum collection offer invaluable insight about the origins of life, the Earth and our solar system – stories that are key to understanding how we can best protect our planet's future."

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