Buzz Aldrin, in conjunction with 8i and Time Inc’s Life VR, has created a hologram version of himself as part of a new interactive experience laying the groundwork for how to reach Mars.
The holographic Buzz is the host of a virtual reality experience named Cycling Pathways to Mars. It is a Virtual Reality experience that is now available for free from SteamVR and Viveport, and will soon arrive on the Oculus Rift. The experience, using the video encoding experience of 8i, uses volumetric video creation to create a 3D hologram of Dr Aldrin, which combines volumetric capture of Aldrin discussing his ideas with vivid volumetric video presenting them in action. It is fitting that Aldrin’s vision of the future uses what is consider the future of video, which is a video space that can be moved around, even around live video footage. Because this requires positional tracking, the experience is only available currently with HTC Vive and a colossal 32 GB installation, an impressive figure given that the experience is only ten minutes long.
Cycling Pathways to Mars
Buzz Aldrin: Cycling Pathways to Mars begins by discussing the history of space travel. Aldrin speaks of his desire to not just be known for “kicking up moon dust” before presenting a grand vision for humanity’s future among the stars. The video showcases all the individual steps and the technology involved. This starts with mining resources from the moon and building and testing the habitation equipment needed to survive on Mars, then moves on to the mechanics of the “cycler” interplanetary space craft themselves, and climactically ends with visiting a potential Martian human colony.
Having seen it, the experience is absolutely awe inspiring. Virtual Reality was absolutely the right choice of medium for Buzz to present his vision. He is a very eloquent presenter and passionately explains his plans. The direction of 8i and Life VR cannot be understated here. The clear evolution between the static imagery of Kennedy and Apollo 11 contrasts sharply with the sheer scale and awe of Aldrin’s cycler eclipsing the Earth, finally ending with a rendering of the Martian colony that absolutely stuns, even given the distinctly industrial look of the prospective equipment.
Scientific ideas are expressed vividly through VR in a way that other media would simply have struggled to better. Ideas literally fly around the field of vision. The experience captures scale of the endeavour of travelling to Mars compared to the moon. It even manages to capture the wonder of being on a completely new planet.
Buzz Aldrin: New Media Maestro
This isn’t the first time Buzz Aldrin has been involved in new technology and new media. Aldrin, more so than the other members of Apollo 11. Aldrin is regularly a consultant for media related to realistic space flight and the experience of space travel. This has even lead to two games with Buzz Aldrin’s name and endorsement. Buzz Aldrin’s Race into Space was released in 1994 and Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager in 2013. Both of these games simulate the research and planning which goes into successful space missions, although elements are simplified to make it more of a game. Aldrin also has been particularly active on social media,engaging with people about his Mars based vision of the future.
Buzz’s jaunt into Virtual Reality goes beyond video games and social media however. For Buzz, it is about creating a legacy. Buzz himself mentions that creating a hologram allows him to live forever; He envisions the project as part of a grand plan over the next several decades to be the most enduring part of his legacy.
Right now, if you own a Vive then it is an absolute must-experience. It’s a brief but exhilarating glimpse of the future, not only of Virtual Reality but humanity itself.