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Sports Illustrated and Life VR launch "Capturing Everest" VR series

Sports Illustrated and Life VR, in partnership with Endemol Shine Beyond USA, premiere Capturing Everest, the first-ever complete ascent of the world’s tallest mountain in virtual reality.

The VR documentary series launches on Life VR—Time Inc.’s dedicated virtual reality platform—in concert with comprehensive coverage across Sport Illustrated’s (SI) print and digital properties, including a microsite on SI.com with 360-video versions of the episodes and a cover story in this week’s issue. This also marks the first-ever augmented-reality issue from SI, allowing users to scan select images in the magazine to instantly activate multimedia content on their mobile device using the Life VR app. 

The VR production is presented in a series of four episodes following the harrowing journey of three climbers with uniquely inspiring backstories as they attempt to reach the top. One of these climbers is Jeff Glasbrenner, a Paralympian and 25-time Ironman who became the first American amputee to summit Mount Everest on this expedition. He is featured on the new cover of Sports Illustrated with the line, “Capturing Everest. Ultimate Challenge. Ultimate Experience,” and profiled in a feature by SI’s Austin Murphy. The other two climbers featured in the experience are Lisa Thompson, a breast cancer survivor who quit her job to take on Everest, and Madison Mountaineering guide Brent Bishop, son of the legendary climber Barry Bishop, a member of the first American team to summit Everest, in 1963. The VR experience is presented in four chapters: The Journey, The Blessing, The Icefall and The Summit.

Capturing Everest ()

The editors of SI write of the project: “It was no ordinary expedition, and it was captured in an extraordinary way… You've seen photos and video from the peak. But you've never felt Everest like this… Capturing Everest is yet another example of how SI is delivering the access and storytelling for which we’ve always been known in cutting-edge ways—and it’s the jumping-off point for a new idea of what a magazine can be.” Read the full SI Editors’ Letter introducing Capturing Everest, here

Capturing Everest was shot on location over a two-month span last spring, which was the first climbing season on the mountain after two years of cancellations due to bad weather and safety concerns.  

“We are thrilled that Capturing Everest is getting this amazing launch platform thanks to our partners at Sports Illustrated and Life VR,” says Bonnie Pan, president, Endemol Shine Beyond USA. “This is such a special series, featuring an amazingly brave team of climbers who captured a view of Everest that has never been seen before.”

This week’s issue features another innovation from Time Inc. and its storytelling platform Life VR, as it introduces augmented reality (AR) capabilities—powered by technology partner RYOT Lab—blending print and digital. The first-ever AR issue of SI features multimedia content that can be unlocked by activating the AR camera in the Life VR app—users can simply hover their phone over select images throughout the issue and watch them come to life. This includes an exclusive Capturing Everest 360-video experience which launches from the cover and AR-enabled advertorial content from sponsor Coors Light integrated into a front cover flap and back cover. 

“An integral part of Life VR is finding unexpected ways to bring the Life magazine DNA into a new medium, to a new audience,” said Life VR managing editor Mia Tramz. "Life was meant to be a window onto the world, to take its readers to places they may never otherwise get to go. This project, in so many ways, carries the spirit of the original brand into the forefront of storytelling for our era – it is as innovative and awe-inspiring now as the photographs in LIFE were for so many in its day.” 

Time Inc. is a member of FIPP.

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