EVEREST VR JOINS WITH THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY (WITH IBG) THROUGH THE SOCIETY’S EVEREST COLLECTION

Sólfar Studios announces charitable donation of EVEREST VR to support the application of Virtual Reality in the Society’s Collections-related educational outreach and training programmes.

February 15, 2017 (Reykjavík, Iceland) -Sólfar Studios, the Icelandic VR studio behind the critically-acclaimed virtual reality experience EVEREST VR, announced today that the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) has accepted Sólfar’s charitable donation of the EVEREST VR application, which will be held as part of the Society’s Everest Collection.

EVEREST VR was initially released in 2016 and was widely hailed as a breath-taking representation of the experience of climbing Mount Everest in VR. Sólfar continued to extend the experience’s educational utility by incorporating 18 historical expedition routes into a real-time 3D map of the mountain that participants can follow at their own pace and traverse the mountain at scales ranging from 1:1 to 1500:1 metres. No depiction of such expeditions would be complete without the famous 1953 British Expedition, where Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to successfully summit Everest.

“As we became familiar with the work of the Society, and the wonderful collection of photographs held in their Everest Collection, we set out to include photographs from the 1953 Expedition within our VR experience such that viewers could gain a stronger appreciation of the setting for this historical moment in mankind's urge to explore the unknown,” commented Kjartan Pierre Emilsson co-founder and CEO at Sólfar. “The unique ability of VR to transport us to impossible places is something we strongly believe in and we're deeply honoured that the Society feels VR has this potential to support their mission.” 

The donation of EVEREST VR is meant to support the Society’s contemporary charitable and educational work in promoting awareness and knowledge of its historical Mount Everest-related Collections. These will include presentations and demonstrations for public audiences, schools, academic and research communities in the UK, linked to the Society’s Everest Collection. Further uses include a training function.

            

“We are delighted to receive this generous donation and using historic stills imagery from our Everest-related photographic collection within the virtual reality environment provides added context and value for the viewer”, said Alasdair MacLeod, Head of Enterprise and Resources at the Society.

The donation of EVEREST VR to the RGS-IBG is made possible by the generous support of HTC, NVIDIA and Scan Computers, with each company contributing the high performance VR and PC hardware needed to form the Virtual Reality system required for EVEREST VR to be displayed alongside the Society´s Everest Collection.

Peter Frolund, VP for VR (Europe) at HTC commented, “Everest VR offers a spectacular journey to the top of the earth, showcasing stunning visual fidelity combined with room-scale technology, which allows players to walk around the virtual space, only possible on HTC Vive. Virtual reality is an incredible tool to explore and discover real life environments few have had the chance to visit first hand, and we are thrilled to support the Royal Geographic Society’s Everest Collection with HTC Vive.”

“Conquering Mount Everest is on the bucket list of many climbers and adrenaline junkies, but only a few will ever have the chance to scale it,” says Jason Paul, General Manager for Virtual Reality at NVIDIA.  “NVIDIA has worked closely with Solfar Studios to bring advanced effects such as NVIDIA Turbulence and VRWorks to EverestVR so aspiring adventurers can experience a virtual Everest that is as close as possible to the real climb.  We’re very excited to support this experience and see it part of the Society’s Everest Collection.”

About Sólfar Studios

Founded in Reykjavík, Iceland in October 2014 by game industry veterans, Sólfar Studios’ mission is to create and publish pure virtual reality experiences that define the medium and establish Sólfar as the category leader in virtual reality entertainment. Sólfar Studios is currently developing multiple projects across all major VR platforms, including PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

About RGS-IBG

The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Founded in 1830, the Society is dedicated to the development and promotion of geographical knowledge, together with its application to the challenges facing society and the environment.

Within its wider 2-million strong Collections, the Society houses over 500,000 photographic images, artworks and film, collected since the Society’s inception. These include some of the most important historical images in the field of geographical exploration, travel and discovery, with over 20,000 photographs and related documents charting the nine British Mount Everest expeditions from 1921 through to 1953.

To find out more please visit www.rgs.org

SÓLFAR SECURES €2 MILLION SEED ROUND FROM NORDIC AND ASIAN INVESTORS

Inventure, NSA Ventures, Reaktor Ventures and Shanda Group back Icelandic AAA VR Startup

HELSINKI, November 2015 – Sólfar Studios announced today at Slush that they have received EUR 2 million in a Seed series investment from a group of leading venture capital funds across the Nordics and Asia.  The seed round syndicate includes Shanda Group, Tianqiao Chen’sprivate investment group, Iceland´s NSA Ventures, and Finnish VCs Inventure and Reaktor Ventures along with individual investors from the company´s previous angel round.

Founded in October 2014, Sólfar’s mission is to create and publish pure VR games and experiences that thrill players, define the medium, and establish Sólfar as the category leader in virtual reality entertainment.

“We see virtual reality as the new medium to bring fully immersive alternative worlds to the mass population, and high quality, breath-taking content created by innovative studios like Sólfar provides entry to those worlds,” said Tianqiao Chen, founder, Chairman and CEO at Shanda Group.

“It´s a privilege to welcome a strong and visionary investor group from the Nordic countries and Asia to fuel our growth into the fascinating field of VR,” said Kjartan Pierre Emilsson CEO and co-founder at Sólfar. “By benefiting from their strong network, experience and access to a global talent pool, we are dramatically accelerating Sólfar’s ability to create trailblazing content for this medium of the future.”

Before founding Sólfar, the co-founders held leadership positions at Icelandic MMO developer and publisher CCP Games. Reynir Hardarson co-founded CCP in 1997 and was their Global Creative Director; Kjartan Pierre Emilsson built CCP´s Shanghai studio and was the Lead Game Designer on the original team behind EVE Online; and Thor Gunnarsson was most recently VP Business Development at CCP and previously a VP and General Manager at BAFTA award-winning mobile games studio Ideaworks3D.

“We see Sólfar as one of the rising stars of the Nordic gaming community,” said Helga Valfells CEO at NSA Ventures. “Iceland has a growing game developer community that is known for embracing cutting-edge technology and taking a creative and artistic approach to gaming.  As a fund we are very excited about VR and believe that the Sólfar team has the right skills to build a global VR success story.”

Sólfar are assembling a fast, nimble team of industry veterans laser-focused on virtual reality entertainment content, produced faster and at higher quality than their competition. The company is off a rapid start. Announcing the company at the Slush PLAY conference in April, they next made an appearance in June at Sony’s E3 Press Conference where they debuted Godling, a stunning original VR game currently in development for PlayStation® VR.

This week, Sólfar unveiled their second product at the VRX conference in San Francisco and are today presenting a first look at EVEREST VR on stage and in private viewings at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki. Currently in production with Reykjavik-based visual effects and animation studio RVX, EVEREST VR is a unique VR experience poised to capture intense consumer interest in virtual exploration. Sólfar will publish EVEREST VR in 2016.

SÓLFAR STUDIOS ANNOUNCES EVEREST VR

Sólfar and RVX Take Virtual Reality to New Heights


SAN FRANCISCO, HELSINKI, November 2015 -- Sólfar Studios today announced they are bringing EVEREST VR to virtual reality platforms in 2016.  In partnership with RVX - Nordic’s leading visual effects and animation house - the two companies are co-developing a VR experience like no other. 


“In forming this VR expeditionary force with RVX, our mission is to construct the definitive experience of what it feels like to summit Mount Everest, an epic feat that most will never attempt in the real world,” said Kjartan Pierre Emilsson CEO and co-founder at Sólfar. “By combining incomparable visual fidelity with real player agency and interactivity, EVEREST VR will immerse you in a virtual reality that feels both real and emotionally stunning.”

The premise of EVEREST VR is simple. Preparing for your expedition at Basecamp, you will traverse the Khumbu Icefalls, scale Lhotse Face, ascend the Hillary Step, and finally conquer the summit of Everest. You will learn to respect the mountain, you may even survive the encounter. You will leave the experience feeling like you were there. 

EVEREST VR is poised to generate huge interest from VR fans, with virtual exploration set to become the breakthrough application on VR platforms launching in 2016. In a survey of 2,250 U.S. consumers published by Greenlight VR today, travel and exploration categories registered the highest interest across all age, gender, and ethnicity groups, garnering the interest of 66% of respondents, higher than gaming. 

The partnership between Sólfar and RVX brings together a stellar team from the games and film industries to deliver an industry first experience in VR. Combining the best technology the games and film industry have to offer with a masterfully scripted AAA VR experience, Solfar and RVX have created an emotionally stunning and truly immersive VR journey. 


“As a creative director in the VFX industry working with phenomenal directors like Baltasar Kormákur and Alfonso Cuarón, I´ve always strived to perfect visual effects that add verisimilitude to the story and increase its emotional impact,” said Dadi Einarsson, founder and Creative Director at RVX. “With EVEREST VR, we now place the participant into a story where they control their pace and interaction with the experience. This will rewrite the rules for future storytellers and I can´t wait to see where this creative intersection of film and games talent in VR takes us.” 

EVEREST VR pushes the envelope of real-time graphics. Using advanced stereophotogrammetry techniques, the two studios have created the definitive CGI model of Everest for high-end VR platforms. Using NVIDIA‘s GeForce GTX TITAN X GPU to churn through over 300,000 high resolution images of the mountain range, a highly detailed 3D point cloud of the whole area was created. They then generated a 3D mesh and textures made to measure for the demands of a real-time VR application.

Sólfar and NVIDIA will further collaborate during the production of EVEREST VR to integrate GameWorks VR including VR SLI and multi-resolution shading and to take advantage of VR-ready PCs equipped with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 GPUs on up to GeForce GTX TITAN X in SLI.

Building on this stunning visual backdrop in Unreal Engine 4, EVEREST VR will bring a level of interactivity and player agency that promises to become an apex experience for this new medium. 

Published by Sólfar, EVEREST VR will debut in 2016.