Virtual Reality Company Making Noise in Montana
If you could hear the church bells at St. Helena Cathedra or explore what it’s like to be an orphan girl, all from the comfort of your own home, would you?
Even though this seems like something out of a sci fi movie, a tech company in Butte, Montana can now view Montana by utilizing virtual reality.
The company using virtual reality is called InsideMt. They’re a production company that focuses on 360-degree videos, immersive VR videos and 3D virtual tours as well. InsideMt has developed promo content for several large clients including ZooMontana, Museum of the Rockies and Big Sky Resort among others.
InsideMT’s founder, Tim Lewis thinks that virtual reality is going to be very important when it comes to advertising. He thinks that since visual mediums have been able to captivate audiences for a long time and nso virtual reality looks to be the next step up. He said, “You see this on Facebook all the time: someone posts a nice picture, and it will get a hundred likes. Someone posts a nice article, and it will get 10.”
Lewis also thinks that since the viewer is able to interact with the experience, that should result in more engagement which will result in people being on websites for longer periods of time which will result in higher rankings in the search engines.
A few different state organizations agree with Lewis.
In 2015, the Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development granted InsideMT with $50,000 to develop virtual tours for 22 different tourist attractions throughout the state, including Lewis and Clark Caverns, Clark Chateau and the World Museum of Mining as well.
In 2016, InsideMT is one of the finalists for MOTBD’s Outstanding Tourism Campaign Award for the 22 virtual tours that they created.
Lewis was able to complete the project alongside Angela Hammang. She talked about the process saying, “It’s like putting together a puzzle.”
They created the virtual tours with Google Street View. First, they captured the panoramic images with a 3D camera. Then, the images are arranged on a 3D map and edited.
Hamming thinks that virtual reality can help people that live in rural communities as well since students don’t have as much access to training there. That’s why Lewis and Hamming are looking into virtual reality with education opportunities.
It’s hard to think of one term that sums up InsideMT, however, Lewis thinks the company can be coined as a “virtual reality production company”.
He said that although it sounds like that type of business would need to be in a big city, he likes being in Butte, Montana due to the high speed network, how close they are to Montana Tech and of course the low cost of real estate.
Lewis said, “Here in Butte, it’s just a different attitude. It’s just a different culture.” He also talked about how he likes to hire Tech students at InsideMT.
One of the students hired by Lewis is AJ Puckett. Puckett said, “All of the stuff I learned at Tech was directly related. It was cool to see (my work) as something other than a finished assignment. I love the whole process.”