BBC Radio 4 today announced its first venture into virtual reality radio with ambitious new online audio drama Quake, set as the search for survivors begins after a deadly earthquake.
Quake is made up of 12 short-form audio dramas, each available online only and accompanied by a graphic-novel style animation, alongside an immersive, 360-degree, 3D film of the first episode in the series, Trapped Man.
The film – which sets the scene for the rest of the series – takes place inside a collapsed building. Viewers who are watching on VR headsets on YouTube and the Radio 4 website will become a central character in the drama. As the viewer’s eyes become accustomed to the darkness, the sights and sounds of their surroundings become apparent.
Each stand-alone episode tells the story of a different individual caught up in an earthquake; their stories interweave in a gripping non-linear narrative. Whilst the series starts with Trapped Man and ends with Search And Rescue, the remaining ten episodes can be selected in any order, allowing audiences to create the narrative that suits them.
The virtual reality film is made by Bafta Award-winning video production company BDH Immersive. Each of the subsequent episodes feature an accompanying animation made by Eight Engines.
Rhian Roberts, Digital Editor at Radio 4, says: “Quake is designed as something that can fit into whatever space you have available in the day, choosing episodes to suit or listening to the whole thing as a podcast. It’s an exciting innovation in how we offer Radio 4 drama to both new and existing audiences. The slow paced visuals offer an extra dimension to each episode, but it’s always the audio drama that leads the way.”
The film can be viewed on VR headsets, on the Radio 4 YouTube channel and on the Radio 4 website. The audio will also be available as a podcast.This pioneering audio drama series is inspired by the remarkable digital revolution in humanitarian efforts. With the creation of mobile internet, the world has found a new digital nervous system which enables thousands of ordinary people to help save lives. In Quake, this is illustrated in the episodes Crowd Sourcerer; Digital Jedis and Game Changer, where the humanitarian effort spreads beyond members of the local community to volunteers from across the world. Quake celebrates the anonymous philanthropy of the global digital community.
The series writer is Glyn Maxwell and the producer is Sharon Sephton
Quake will be available as a complete box-set from 15 May 2017 at Radio 4