There have been many movies produced that depict the earthly life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Some of those movies have done a decent job of taking the viewer on an incredible journey as they recreate the places where Christ taught and healed people, as well as, the miracles that He performed. However, none of those movies actually leave the viewer with a feeling that they have actually walked where the Savior walked. Until now.
The Immersive Bible Experience combines the talents of Jarom Sidwell (a Hollywood visual effects artist who worked on The Avengers, Avatar, The Hobbit, and Transformers) with the knowledge of archeologists, the detailed insights of historians, and the testimony of theologians to recreate biblical sites in virtual reality. LDS Living.com reports, “The attention to detail, from the architecture to the clothing to the layout of the city, is stunning. You can walk, run, pick things up, throw or carry objects, interact with temple patrons and priests, and interact with your environment through the combined use of a headset and handheld controllers. You can look up, down, and all around in immersive 3D. You can stop and learn about the ancient temple rites and other historical details. The city of ancient Jerusalem surrounds you, with accurate sound design and depth of field.”
Jonathan Decker, an actor, author, comedian, and television personality known for his book 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families and co-hosting The KJZZ Movie Show, had the opportunity at the LDS Film Festival, where he test drove the Immersive Bible Experience, to ask some questions to Jarom Sidwell and Charan Prabhakar (the host as you roam biblical Jerusalem).
Jarom Sidwell said that he got the idea to recreate the Bible in Virtual Reality during a lecture from a Bible scholar. As he watched the presentation, he realized that he had the ability to create virtual worlds in 3D, having done so for several blockbuster movies. And, if he could create virtual worlds in 3D for movies, he could use the same concepts to create a Virtual Reality Biblical world as well. He told LDS Living.com that it could be accomplished by using Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and in-depth mobile apps.
Charan Prabhakar explained that historical accuracy is of paramount importance to the project and that considerable time is spent collaborating with archaeologists, scholars, rabbis, and other faith leaders to ensure “this experience feels as authentic as possible.” The vast knowledge of the Holy Land that these people have combined with their access to areas and research not available to the average person is indispensable. He said, “It is amazing to learn from each of them. We then take their notes, compare and overlay their diagrams and drawings and convert those into the 3D models that became the foundation for our virtual worlds.
Sidwell commented that the Immersive Bible Experience is well suited for museums, universities, large churches, schools, and seminaries. It is the hopes of the team that millions of people, families, and organizations worldwide will use the Immersive Bible Experience to expand their knowledge and understanding of the Bible and its teachings. The experience will allow leaders and teachers to create a more interactive learning environment. Sidwell also stated that the in-depth mobile apps when connected to a TV or projector are perfect for both individuals and groups, no matter the age or knowledge level. The price for the mobile apps, which include Mobile 3D, Augmented Reality, and Mobile Virtual Reality, ranges from $10-$30.
Prabhakar said that they are talking to a number of different organizations to install the Virtual Reality in bookstores, museums, visitor centers, and classrooms so as many people as possible can explore, play, and learn together in full Virtual Reality. They are also doing a lot of web Augmented Reality so people can get a taste of the technology without downloading the app. He further stated that those who have tested the Immersive Bible Experience – love it! A manager of a church in LA exclaimed that she, “learned more in ten minutes than she had in ten years.”
Prabhakar also said, “Our main goal was to create an engaging and immersive environment where individuals could feel God’s love and understand their relationship with deity. If we help people learn and teach more about Jesus, we will feel like our efforts are worth it.”