Experience a 1920s Fossil Expedition With This 360-Degree Video

Internet Archive Book Images via Wikimedia Commons
Internet Archive Book Images via Wikimedia Commons / Internet Archive Book Images via Wikimedia Commons

From microscopic fossils to giant squids, each episode of the series Shelf Life takes a look at one of the 33 million items in the American Museum of Natural History’s collection. After launching on YouTube in 2014, the series is back for its second season, and this time, the museum is presenting some of its rarely seen artifacts in a way they’ve never been viewed before.

In the video below, viewers can experience a 1920s fossil expedition in 360 degrees. Mike Novacek narrates the story of Roy Chapman Andrews, the leader of the legendary Gobi Desert excavations and one of the American Museum of Natural History’s most prolific explorers. Between 1922 and 1930, Andrews and his team made several landmark discoveries in the field of paleontology, including the first nest of dinosaur eggs ever unearthed. Many of those fossils are still housed in the museum today. Toward the end of the clip, viewers can “step into” the museum’s modern collections and browse artifacts by tilting their phone or dragging their mouse across the screen.

The video was edited together from still images and film reels dug out from the museum’s library. To create the 360-degree effect from 100-year-old footage, AMNH producer Erin Chapman and VR director Jason Drakeford used techniques like matte-painting, 360 environment creation, and live-action 360 shoots. The result is an immersive look at some of the most important expeditions in the museum's history.

To see more recent discoveries made in the Gobi Desert, you can check out AMNH’s 13th episode of Shelf Life here.