The Holy City: Virtual Tour & Film

5-star rating
Education, Short Films, Travel
Comfortable, Roomscale, Stationary

The Holy City: An Interactive Exploration of Faith is an excellent introduction to history and faith in the ancient city of Jerusalem. In this program it is described through narration, immersive photogrammetry, 360° stereo video and occasional puzzle games. This inclusive experience will be appreciated by spiritual and secular folks alike as they tour some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Viewers are introduced to The Holy City with a brief quick-fire history of Jerusalem from its origins through to present day. From here a relief map of the city is presented on a pedestal, highlighing three locations that lead to chapters describing sites and customs of each of the three religious orders represented in the app.

At the beginning of each chapter you are placed in front of a revered building of Jerusalem and directed inside. The app uses teleportation and snap turning effectively, and although in most cases viewers are able to self explore each location, a line along the floor indicates your recommended route and points of interest along the way.

A pedestal mounted map anchors your city exploration.

Typically the chapters lead you to brief mini-games that unlock a portals to further spaces. Interspersing the jumps between locations are 360° video clips that take you out of these empty buildings and into the middle of holy celebrations and rituals, surrounded by crowds while giving you prominent views of all the activities underway. The video segments are skipable, but we enjoyed them all in full.

An additional two chapters are revealed in turn upon completion of the first three. Chapter locations include the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome Of The Rock, Holy Sepulchre, St. James Monastery, Tower of David Museum and the Western Wall.

Location-based photogrammetry is done well and presents enough detail to provide a good degree of immersion. Unfortunately some of the most intricate and most decorated areas of these buildings and furnishings are rendered poorly by photogrammetry and it would have been better if some of those details were replaced with 3D models instead or in some cases removed entirely.

Brief puzzles unlock portals to the next location.

The 360° video is very well positioned at events, and also includes more intimate and reflective locations with members of clergy present and providing expression. There is no snap-turning in video unfortunately. Though the video segments are of only medium resolution they work well, and it would be difficult to include higher quality considering the download for this experience is already over 30 GB in size.

There is a puzzle game with each of the five chapters and they balance out the experience well. Though relatively simple interactive games, sometimes the narrated instructions were unclear or easy to mishear, leading to confusion about what we had to do. A little patience and trial and error will get you through these moments, though they can be frustrating since no further hints are offered and the experience will not proceed until each game is completed.

Write your own note for the Western Wall

Tower of David Museum well crafted in photogrammetry.

For us The Holy City was an informative journey around Jerusalem that lasted around an hour, and we were grateful to the inter-faith production team for providing an objective interpretation of the subject matter. This is one of the best and most complete virtual reality travel tours that we've experienced to date. Whether it's worth $19.99 for an hour of content is up to you, though it is also included if you have a Viveport Infinity subscription. The 360° video is also available as a separate seven minute documentary film for $5 though we wouldn't recommend that as highly without the other parts of the experience.

✅ Inclusive and informative journey around Jerusalem.
✅ Great mix of models, photogrammetry, games & 360° video.
❌ Potentially pricey for 1 hour of content.

• Languages: English
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