Sports activities Illustrated places you inside the brand new Swimsuit Problem

Babes, bikinis and … digital actuality? It is an equation that just about elicits a “no duh!” from anybody within the room. Which is why once I meet Chris Hercik at Time Inc. headquarters in New York, he can barely suppress his glee, and for good purpose. As artistic director of Sports activities Illustrated, Hercik’s overseen each cowl of the journal, together with its annual Swimsuit challenge, since 2002. However this yr, along with its huge 2016 Swimsuit cowl mannequin reveal (Ronda Rousey graces considered one of three covers), the long-lasting model is doing issues in another way: It is launching a set of cellular VR experiences designed to place you on the seashore for some one-on-one time with the fashions.

“For the primary time ever, we’re going to have the ability to reply the query that I all the time get and a whole lot of the individuals on employees all the time get, which is: ‘What’s it wish to be on set for a Sports activities Illustrated photograph shoot?'” says Hercik.

Shot final November in collaboration with VR outfit Wevr, the Swimsuit situation’s inaugural batch of VR content material, which options previous cowl fashions Nina Adgal, Irina Shayk and Hannah Davis, will reside inside Sports activities Illustrated‘s new Swimsuit app for Android and iOS. At launch, 5 Google Cardboard– and Samsung Gear VR–suitable movies will probably be made out there without spending a dime — three of the person fashions, a teaser and an educational video — after which the app can be refreshed weekly with three to 5 new clips.

In all, Hercik says the group shot sufficient footage to roll out about forty two-to-three-minute VR experiences. That further content material, nevertheless, might be locked behind a paywall. So whereas subscribers could have unfettered entry to all of that regularly updating Swimsuit VR content material, others should pay $1.ninety nine for the privilege. Moreover, there is a $four.ninety nine choice that unlocks all of the VR content material in addition to premium photographs and movies.

Sports Illustrated puts you inside the new Swimsuit Issue

The brand new Sports activities Illustrated Swimsuit app options a mixture of free and premium VR content material, photographs and video.

It is a excessive-high quality viewing expertise that impresses and entertains — go forward and check out not to smile whenever you’re in it — and never simply because it provides you face time with the difficulty’s preternaturally lovely fashions. Technically, it is flawless. There is no proof of sewing (how the a number of photographs are blended collectively), so viewers will not see any of the seams that may plague poorly produced VR content material. And that is because of Wevr’s technical experience. It is also designed to maintain viewers stunned at each flip.

“All of those VR experiences aren’t simply all one degree,” says Hercik of SI‘s Swimsuit VR slate. “There are some the place a number of issues occur round you on the similar time, so regardless of the place you are wanting, there’s issues happening. There are one-on-one experiences so it is simply you alone on the seashore with the mannequin with type of the ambient sound, so you possibly can really feel what it is wish to be standing there on the seashore and listen to the waves and listen to the water.”

“That is the kickoff for ‘Sports activities Illustrated’ normally. We now have a slate of digital actuality tasks that we’re lining up now and that will probably be popping out over the subsequent six to 9 months.”

Chris Hercik, Sports activities Illustrated

To make sure readers take part in Sports activities Illustrated‘s VR foray, Hercik says a Cardboard-like viewer shall be sure into the Swimsuit problem’s print version. However that is not the one entry level for the VR content material. For many who both do not have entry to a VR headset or just do not decide up the print problem for its pack-in viewer, there’s an choice to observe the movies on a smartphone. The SI group calls this the “magic window,” and it is slickly achieved: You’ll be able to spin round and peer on the fashions in a seamless, 360-diploma setting.

So why VR and why now? Nicely, you’ll be able to fortunately blame the inspiration for SI’s VR Swimsuit jaunt on HTC’s excessive-finish digital actuality headset, the Vive. Hercik says it was on a go to to Seattle on the shut of final yr’s Swimsuit challenge, throughout which he demoed some VR on the Vive, that he had his epiphany.

Sports Illustrated puts you inside the new Swimsuit Issue

Swimsuit mannequin Nina Agdal flaunts her bikini bod for viewers in a 360-diploma VR tour.

“I instantly flew again and stated, ‘I’ve to get individuals to see this, as a result of I actually assume it may be a recreation changer.’ We acquired the employees to see it. We checked out it. And we’re like instantly, ‘We gotta do a shoot.’ We knew we needed to do one thing in VR for this yr,” says Hercik.

Whereas the 2016 Swimsuit points serves as Sports activities Illustrated‘s first experiment with VR, it’s not at all the final. The Swimsuit app will ultimately run out of further content material for the yr — it’s going to replace for annually’s concern — however when it does, extra Sports activities Illustrated VR experiences can be on the best way. Hercik says the journal plans to proceed working with Wevr on future VR tasks.

“Clearly, that is the kickoff for Sports activities Illustrated basically,” says Hercik. “We’ve got a slate of digital actuality tasks that we’re lining up now and that can be popping out over the subsequent six to 9 months.”

Picture credit: Sports activities Illustrated