Director Danny Abrahms (left) observes as Jamling Tenzing Norgay (center) demonstrates proper climbing technique. All photos are from the motion capture sessions in Los Angeles, CA, in January 2017 at House of Moves. ©2017 CGO Studios, Inc.
The VR Experience Everest ’53 is in production, a film that looks to re-create the historic first successful ascent of Mount Everest in May 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Directed by Danny Abrahms, CGO Studios is producing the film, with visual effects by Los Angeles-based VFX company Dilated Pixels.
EPs are Peter Hillary, the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, and Jamling Tenzing Norgay and Norbu Tenzing, the sons of Tenzing Norgay. Both Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing Norgay have summited Mount Everest successfully, allowing them to assist in the historical aspects of the film, as well as with the technical nature of re-creating 1950s-era climbing techniques.
A thrilling undertaking, Everest ’53 will no doubt add to CGO Studios’ cache as a VR content creator, as it follows up the VR project about Anne Frank, Anne (also directed by Abrahms), and CGO’s initial VR outing, First, which took viewers inside the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk; First was named Top VR Experiences at Comic-Con in 2015.
See the full press release below:
CGO STUDIOS ANNOUNCES PRODUCTION ON THE HISTORICAL VIRTUAL REALITY FILM PROJECT “EVEREST ’53”
BASED ON THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL ASCENT OF MOUNT EVEREST, NEPAL IN 1953 BY SIR EDMUND HILLARY AND TENZING NORGAY
The VR Experience will recreate one of greatest adventures of all time as New Zealand Mountaineer Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Mountaineer Tenzing Norgay conquer the highest mountain on Earth on May 29, 1953
HOLLYWOOD, CA – (February 2, 2017) CGO Studios is over a year into production on “Everest ’53,” the latest project on their production slate of historical “time-travel” VR experiences, announced Producer Jonah Hirsch, CEO and Founder of CGO Studios.
When CGO Studios announced its previous VR project “Anne”, about Anne Frank and the Secret Annex, the project received worldwide attention. Hirsch’s premiere VR film, “First,” about the Wright Brothers’ famous flight at Kitty Hawk, debuted at E3 and then later at Comic-Con in 2015, where it was named one of the Top 5 VR Experiences that year. Now, with “Everest ’53,” CGO Studios cements its status as the go-to studio for historically accurate cutting-edge VR content.
“Everest ’53” will take viewers to the highest point on earth and allow them to witness another monumental historical event in the 20th Century. Directed by Danny Abrahms, produced by Hirsch, and with visual effects by Los Angeles based VFX company Dilated Pixels, this project reunites the team behind “Anne.” Executive Producers on “Everest ’53” are Peter Hillary, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, and Norbu Tenzing, the sons of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the very first climbers to successfully summit Mt. Everest.
Both Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing Norgay have successfully summited Mount Everest and therefore will not only assist in the historical curation of the piece, but also in the very technical nature of recreating climbing techniques of the day.
“In 1953 they were climbing into the unknown. Could it be done? Was the altitude going to be too much for our human physiology? And of course they were using old wooden ice axes to cut steps in the steep ice. They were literally at the limits of our knowledge and the alpine techniques of the time,” said Peter Hillary. “It was an extraordinary achievement, and the confidence of all humanity took another step up as a consequence,” he added.
Norbu Tenzing, Vice President of the American Himalayan Foundation will also be providing his expertise and knowledge to ensure the utmost historical accuracy.
“To relive and experience history in VR and know what it felt like to be the first humans on the highest point on earth, this project will be an extraordinary experience. It was at that time the closest man had come to getting to the moon,” said Norbu Tenzing. “The Tenzing family is very much looking forward to sharing this with the world,” he added.
“The first successful summit of Mount Everest is one of the great moments of human achievement, teamwork, and perseverance. By recreating this moment, we hope the experience will inspire viewers from all walks of life. Plus, the view from the top of Everest is a sight to behold”, said Abrahms.
“Everest ’53” will recreate, in a way not possible before VR, the first successful summit of Everest. Unlike some of the other VR experiences that focus more on recreating a modern day climbing experience, “Everest ’53” will focus on the historical aspects of the first climb, while also including interactive components.
“Mount Everest is one of the most awe inspiring places on Earth and will continue to inspire and spur imagination for years into the future. Since starting the project over a year ago, we’ve constantly been inspired by these two historical figures and we are very excited to share their story in the most immersive and engaging way possible,” said Hirsch. “‘Everest ’53’ is being developed on the Oculus Rift with the Touch controllers and will be initially demoed later this year,” added Hirsch.
The successful summit of Mount Everest is widely considered the pinnacle of mountaineering, let alone physical achievement, even by today’s standards. Prior to 1953 many climbers risked their lives in attempts to climb the mountain which most thought was simply impossible due to its extreme altitude of 29,029 ft. (8,848 meters).
“Well, we knocked the bastard off!”, Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous quote on the descent to a fellow climber.
“We are honored that the families and caretakers of these historical figures and historic events entrust us with their legacies, and allow us to tell their important story using the new technologies at our disposal. We strive to engage, educate, and entertain people and to use our virtual “time-machine” to transport them to some of history’s milestone moments in a profound and meaningful way,” said Hirsch.
About CGO Studios
CGO Studios was founded with the drive and determination to bring to life key moments of history using the powerfully immersive tool of virtual reality. History offers unique insights into the achievements and missteps of those that came before us and by placing someone in a historical environment, they will feel like they are really at the event, witnessing it happen for the first time. By putting them in the moment, it creates new levels of understanding and appreciation like never before.
Moving forward, CGO has already selected key historical moments that it will bring to life in virtual reality. It is the mission of the CGO Studios team to use this new technical tool to fundamentally change the way these moments are viewed and how people interact with educational concepts.
About Peter Hillary
In celebration of his father’s historic first ascent of Mt Everest in 1953, Peter Hillary climbed to the summit of the world’s highest mountain for his second time on the 25th of May 2002 as part of a National Geographic documentary. When Peter first climbed Mt Everest in 1990, he and his father, Sir Edmund Hillary, became the first ‘father and son’, two generations from one family, to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, (although they were 37 years apart!)
In January 1999, 42 years after Sir Edmund’s epic Antarctic journey, they did it again; this time becoming the first two generations of one family to have reached the South Pole overland from the coast and both of them establishing new routes to the South Pole.
Other notable achievements include: Landing a small aircraft at the North Pole with his father and astronaut Neil Armstrong; completing the first high-altitude traverse of the Himalayan Range, a 3000 mile/5000 km route from Mt Kanchenjunga in Sikkim through Nepal and India to K2 in Pakistan; and completing the “Explorer’s Grand Slam”, which is achieved by climbing the highest mountain on each continent and reaching both the North and South Pole.
About Jamling Tenzing Norgay
In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to reach the sacred summit of Mount Everest. Retracing his father’s historic footsteps, Jamling Tenzing Norgay summited Mount Everest in 1996, just two weeks after nine people died in the mountains most deadly storm ever recorded. He was accompanied by the Everest IMAX filming team which documented the ascent and produced the first ever large-format documentary about the mountain.
Jamling was also a member of the 50th Anniversary National Geographic Documentary “Surviving Everest” in 2002 along with Peter Hillary and Brent Bishop, which focused on the sons’ role in the anniversary ascent of Everest
Jamling has since climbed dozens of Himalayan peaks in Nepal and Sikkim Himalayas from 1992 -2016.
About Norbu Tenzing
Norbu Tenzing Norgay is the son of Tenzing Norgay who along with Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to climb Mt. Everest in 1953. He is Vice President of the American Himalayan Foundation which supports vital education, health care and cultural and environmental preservation throughout the Himalaya and each year touches the lives of 300,000 Sherpas, Nepalis and Tibetans. He frequently travels to his native Himalaya to visit the many projects from Mustang to the Khumbu.
Norbu is also deeply familiar with the risks and challenges faced by Sherpas and mountaineering workers in the Himalaya and is an advocate for this issue. The story of his father’s historic climb has been told many times but never quite so intimately and realistically through VR. With first-hand accounts of the actual ascent from his father, Norbu will help relive the final moments which the world can now experience.