Genesis 360° 3D Short Film

4-star rating
Documentary, Natural History, Short Films
Moderate Comfort, Stationary

Genesis title superimposed over the neck and head of a dinosaur.

Genesis is a 360-degree stereoscopic VR feature that delves into an epic subject in twelve short minutes. By visualizing the history of the Earth as a single day through a sequence of scenes, Genesis covers everything from the formation of the Moon and the Cambrian Explosion to the evolution of mammals into early humans, leading to the present day. Depicting such an extraordinary scope in such a small runtime can never resolve to anything greater than skipping a stone over the surface of Earth's story, yet Genesis accomplishes its goals through big scenes underlined by a broad narrative.

As a spectacle, the visual depth of several scenes left us impressed, and the suitably bombastic and atmospheric musical score adds an excellent layer of immersion. However, we were largely frustrated by two factors. Firstly, rather than being a structured film with a cohesive style, the production felt more like a montage of individual shots that rarely, if ever, utilizes the unique perspectives offered by virtual reality.

Our second frustration stemmed from the fact that, although some scenes were well-rendered and graphically detailed, others looked remarkably blurry, as if we were peering through cataracts. Rendering and displaying stereoscopic 360-degree surround video on a device such as the Meta Quest necessarily requires compromises on graphic fidelity, but this doesn't explain how the quality of the video can vary from one scene to the next. We suspect this is partly due to the choice of scenes - a detailed churning ocean looks incredibly fuzzy, but later a static forest scene appears well rendered. In one shot that we struggle to understand, in a forested scene with giant dragonflies the foreground insects look blurry while the backgrounds are pin-sharp.

Stegosaurus looks like we just disturbed his naptime.
A fierce looking Stegosaurus.

Thanks to Faber Courtial for listening to our concerns and producing a re-rendered version of the movie at the same 4K resolution which improved the visuals from an earlier release. If you have previously watched this movie before September 2023 you may see improvements with the remastered version. The studio also commented that increasing the movie's resolution to 8K would increase the download from a 4GB file to a massive 17GB. As all the movement and action in Genesis are framed towards the front of the viewing area, we wonder whether a high resolution 180-degree video might be a better compromise.

Faber Courtial is a visual effects company that creates high quality productions for both museums and television, and we're delighted that they're now investing in virtual reality with experiences like Genesis, Into Space and Rome. As virtual reality products become more powerful and accessible to a greater number of people, we're looking forward seeing what they can accomplish when technology catches up and it becomes possible to reproduce their high quality work effectively in the medium.

Asteroid above earth, on a collision course.
Asteroid on an Earthly collision course.

Australopithecus looking at the camera.
A wistful Austalopithecus looks into the camera.

✅ Epic subject told with objectivity.
✅ Impressive visual spectacles and immersive soundtrack.
❌ Mixed video quality detracts from enjoyment.

• YouTube: Genesis Trailer
• Languages: English
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