Natural History Series
Meta Quest

About First Life

An epic journey 350 billion years into the past to experience the origin of life on Earth

In more than 60 years of broadcasting, David Attenborough has travelled the globe to document the living world in all its wonder. Now, with Atlantic and Meta Quest, he travels back in time using VR to bring to life long-extinct fossils that unlock the secrets of what the very first animals on our planet were like, how they moved and how they thrived.

Watch Now on Meta Quest TV

At a quality unprecedented for immersive media, journey back over 3.5 billion years, to plot the story of how life evolved from single-celled organisms into the ferocious predators that stalked the seafloor.

Putting on an Oculus Quest 2, users have the opportunity to come face to face with bizarre creatures such as the five-eyed Opabinia, the fearsome-looking Anomalocaris, and the spiny worm-like Hallucigenia – scientifically accurate animations bring them vividly to life.

First Life shows us how evolutionary features of the first creatures have passed to modern animals, including humans, giving us an amazing insight into the remarkable evolutionary journey that has brought us the animal kingdom we know today.

First Life was created out of the mutual desire of both Meta Quest and Atlantic, to push the boundaries of computer-generated immersive media production.

One of its key goals was to inform studios and creators around the world how to further immerse mobile VR users in virtual worlds, without being subject to the limitations of real-time computation. By pre-rendering complex computer-generated immersive stories in stereoscopic 8K 60fps video, First Life presents a new milestone for beautiful natural history story-telling while also setting a new bar for quality in mobile VR headsets.

First Life showcases the potential and power of immersive storytelling by creating an experience impossible in any other format, outside of the constraints of real-time game-engine computation.

Utilising world-leading paleontological research from global experts, and breakthroughs in CGI technology, we created scientifically accurate 3D models and animation in collaboration with Atlantic’s Design & VFX team.

Behind The Scenes

One of the biggest challenges of First Life was translating the incredible 3D 8K content from flat screen into VR 360 content. This involved a lot of imaginative work extending the set around the ancient arthropods while preserving the 3D.

When developing the look for First Life, the team landed on a dark environment, evoking the deep ocean, with the source of light coming from the node that marks the beginning of single-celled existence.

As life develops, and we move through time, tendrils spring from the nodes, glowing as the user arrives at each specific moment in prehistory. As the user travels up the timeline, each node explodes into more and more tendrils, illustrating the expansion of life in Earth’s ancient oceans.

The team designed an experience that would submerge viewers into our planet’s breath-taking ancient oceans and engage them with the secrets of how life began on Earth, with spatial sound design by 1.618 Digital and David Attenborough as their guide.

Meet creatures such as the Ammonite, the fearsome-looking Anomalocaris, the five-eyed Opabinia, and the nimble Trilobyte, the most successful colonizer of its time.

Awards

EMMY

2011

Outstanding Graphic Design & Art Direction

EMMY

2011

Outstanding Writing

EMMY

2011

Outstanding Nature Programme

Credits

Narrator
David Attenborough

Directors
Elliot Graves
Matthew Baker-Jones

Producer
Anthony Geffen

Visual Effects Producer
Vikas Gandhi

Executive Producer (Meta Quest)
Eric Cheng

Producer (Meta Quest)
Johnathan Gleit

Editor
Richard Lester

VFX Supervisor
Bhaumik Patel

Design Director
Steve McGeorge

Production Manager
Char Arthurs

Sound Design & Spatial Mix
Oliver Kadel
(1.618 Digital)

Title Animation
Valentina Kosov

3D Lead Artist
Matthew Baker-Jones

3D Modelling and Animation
Vladmir Venkov
Craig Mepham

Compositing
Nikolay Kulishev
Zoubein Rana
Ben Beckett

Motion Graphics
Lee Robinson

Managing Director
Claudia Perkins

Business & Legal
Mimi Gilligan

Production Accountant
Vincent Pretorius

Head of Facilities
Conor Moss

Head of IT
Steve Cullen