World's First VR Time Machine Debuts at SXSW Offering Visitors a Historically Immersive Trip Through 1964 Tokyo

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Japanese visual media and entertainment company NHK Enterprises to showcase immersive VR experience through Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward 55 years into the past, when Tokyo last hosted the Olympic Games in 1964

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"We are on the verge of opening the doors to completely new worlds for mankind," said Daisaku Kawase, The Time Machine Project Leader and Executive Producer, Production Headquarters at NEP. "Through The Time Machine, we welcome people to feel this world full of reality beyond imagination."

SXSW attendees will have the opportunity to travel through Tokyo on the world's first VR Time Machine experience, an immersive virtual reality experience with a head-mounted display (HMD). Prominent Japanese media and entertainment companies NHK Enterprises (NEP) and Rhizomatiks teamed up with established variety show and interactive VR entertainment producer Toshio Tsuchiya to produce the technology behind this current exhibition, named The Time Machine.

This VR trip through the streets of 1964 Tokyo is one example of how the combined technologies from this collaboration can reproduce a past environment with the old photographs gathered from people who have documented and saved images from that time. The resulting product demonstrates the possibility for curious and nostalgic minds to revisit any place at any time in history.

A celebration of Tokyo in the lead up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in the cosmopolitan Japanese city, the experience starts with an immersive intro surrounding the user with a current view of the Shibuya Scramble Intersection before rewinding the clock to 1964, the year of the first Olympic Games in Tokyo, and taking them for a stroll around the Hachiko statue at Shibuya’s JR Train Station to historical sites around the Shibuya Ward, which include the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo Cultural Center), Miyamasu-zaka Hill and the location where the current Shibuya 109 building currently stands but had yet to be built. The team behind this project is looking forward to showcasing a real-life contrast between the present-day look of the streets of Tokyo ahead of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to the 1964 look of the same streets when the Olympics were last hosted in Tokyo.

For The Time Machine, NEP teamed up with Rhizomatiks to leverage the combination of impeccable photogrammetry and texture mapping with superb digital craftsmanship to result in a fully immersive stroll through the streets of Tokyo circa 1964. Rhizomatiks, known for their AR production display integrated into the visually stunning showcase of Brazil’s handoff of the Summer Games to Japan during the Rio de Janeiro closing ceremonies in 2016, assembled a diverse group of creators, which includes experienced interactive VR entertainment producer Toshio Tsuchiya, to compile the photographs and resources to lay the foundation for this visual development.

Across multiple collaborations including the 1964 Tokyo VR Project, Tsuchiya and Rhizomatiks CEO and Creative Director Seiichi Saito have aimed to make virtual spaces anywhere in the world, any age in time, with content assembled out of images gathered from all over the world, working together with people around the globe. Notably, Rhizmomatiks and Tsuchiya had teamed up before to develop a one-of-a-kind interactive “Parallel VR” suspense drama “Ghost Keiji Nishou Sousatsujin Jiken," available on Playstation VR, Android and iOS. This interactive VR content places the viewer in the viewpoint of the invisible “ghost detective” and delivers them an immersive 360-degree suspense experience as the investigation narrative unfolds.

In the five minute VR content demo for SXSW attendees, NEP implements their signature “D.T.E. (Data Transfer Engine).” This enables clear visualization of global scale big data through computer graphics to finalize the delivery of the content streamed via the HTC Vive visitors will wear to experience the stroll through recreated 1964 Tokyo visuals. With content gathered from any venue in time, NHK Enterprises believes anyone with an inventory of photographs and historical imagery can leverage this same combination of technology to recreate any environment in history. This could include curious scholars and museum exhibitors with an interest in exploring any moment in time to people who want to take their photos from their childhood setting to revisit the nostalgic days of their youth.

"Imagine witnessing a historic moment that changed the world, experiencing a legendary concert with many people, or retracing the nostalgic streets where you had many dates with a loved one when you were young. These are feats requiring travel beyond space-time that were merely human dreams: dreams that can soon be realized through VR technology and new ideas," said Daisaku Kawase, The Time Machine Project Leader and Executive Producer, Production Headquarters at NHK Enterprises. "Right now, we are on the verge of opening the doors to completely new worlds for mankind. Through The Time Machine, we welcome people to feel this world full of reality beyond imagination."

The Time Machine exhibition will be showcased at the SXSW 2019 trade show:

Where: Austin Convention Center Halls 2-5, Booth 1108
When: March 10 (Sun) - 12 (Tues): 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. March 13 (Wed): 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Admissions: SXSW badge registrants only

The initial launch of the exhibition, which utilized crowdsourced 1964 photographs of buildings in Shibuya, earned the 1964 Tokyo VR project a 2018 Good Design Award in the category of VR contents. To further demonstrate the capabilities of history-rebuilding VR, the collaboration team turned to NEP, the production wing for Japan’s largest public broadcaster NHK, to leverage their extensive VR content production resources and experience. NEP is no stranger to wowing SXSW attendees with advances in innovative VR demonstrations, having introduced the world's first 8K:VR Theater at SXSW in 2016, which utilized an 8K display filmed in high quality 3D with 360-degree sound and a live laser show, resulting in an incredibly realistic experience without the reliance of an HMD. NEP received numerous awards including a 2016 Good Design Award, an Innovative Technologies 2016 Special Award (Special Jury Prize), and a Lumiere Japan Awards 2016 Grand Prix (3D Category) for this project.

To learn more about The Time Machine and 1964 Tokyo VR project, please visit https://www.nhk-ep.co.jp/timemachine/ and for business inquiries, please contact: timemachine@nhk-ep.co.jp

About NHK Enterprises (NEP)
NHK Enterprises produces, develops, and sells media content, including production of NHK programs and other visual content, event planning and production, program and character licensing, and sales of product. We deliver cultural content to our broad customer base in Japan and overseas through the production of more than 10,000 television and radio programs a year, along with the development of related events and merchandise.
http://www.nhk-ep.co.jp

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