On the 27th and 28th of April, a Norwegian delegation headed by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon conducted an official visit from Oslo to California with the use of cutting edge virtual technology. The goal of this virtual visit was to utilize the close bilateral working relationship that California and Norway have developed to explore green solutions and new innovation from bothNorway and the U.S, all from inside a virtual studio created by Norwegian Virtual Production company Myreze. This is the first time a live virtual tour of this magnitude has taken place and the virtual technology used provided the perfect fit for the subject of the visit; Eco Friendly Solutions. Norway enjoys an excellent bilateral relationship with the US, including long standing cooperation on issues related to climate change, innovation and green growth. Norway and California have ambitious climate targets. Working together to achieve them will open up trade and investment opportunities that enable the growth of new industries, family-wage jobs, and inclusive growth as both California and Norway transition to a net zero future.
With strong coastal cultures and industries, both Norway and California share similar ambitious climate targets, and working together opens up major opportunities. Innovation and a shared interest for technology development and deployment can promote value creation and a sustainable future. Working together can also enhance trade and investment that will enable growth of new industries, jobs and growth as California and Norway transition to a net zero future. With such an important topic of discussion on the table this 2-day visit, hosted by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Consulate General in San Francisco, California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and Innovation Norway, deserved a groundbreaking setup.
On the 5th of March 2021, explorer Hamish Harding successfully journeyed to the deepest depth known to man and in doing so, returned to the surface with not one, but two GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: The first full traversal of the Challenger Deep and longest duration spent at full ocean depth. Myreze had the special honour of creating an animated short film that takes viewers on a visual journey through this historic expedition that seamlessly blends the world of 3D animation with virtual reality.
On the first day of this visit, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon joined Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis and Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide to focus on exchanging ideas on the need for sustainable societal solutions and new technology in order to realise and achieve our common climate goals. But that wasn’t all as His Royal Highness also took the time to virtually teleport to Stanford University to speak with Professor Tina Seelig and Håkon Haugli, CEO of Innovation Norway, on the importance of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and the relevance and implications for business and academia, before visiting a University Campus he knows only too well: His former place of study, UC Berkeley. There, he is greeted by Dr Robert Strand and engages in conversation with three students on the topic of sustainability and value creation, and why academic cooperation is important today and in the future. This incredible day of diplomatic innovation included opening remarks by Governor Gavin Newsom, a welcome address by Ambassador Anniken Krutnes and a performance by the Norwegian singer Angelina Jordan, who gathered acclaim in America’s Got Talent: The Champions 2020. This performance has so far racked up nearly half a million views on YouTube!
This animated film seamlessly blends 3D graphics with the virtual world, featuring the expedition’s communication director, Jannicke Mikkelsen, FNF taking the viewers for an underwater ride from inside one of MYREZ’s beautiful visual studio’s. Filmed in Myreze’s main office in Bergen, Norway, the video was created featuring the mission’s communications director, Jannicke Mikkelsen, explaining the story of the expedition within Myreze’s green screen set.
When speaking of how communication is possible in a location as extreme as the Challenger Deep, the film moves to a beautifully animated space scene following the trail of satellite comms to referencing space travel being more accessible than diving to the earth's deepest depths. The immersive scenes of Hamish’s descent are a great highlight. Along the way, larger than life infographics show the sheer scale of the incredible depths Harding and Vescovo reached, such as the visual of how much deeper the Challenger Deep is than Mount Everest is tall. After opening remarks by Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø and Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru, the second day of the visit saw His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon engage in conversations with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide to discuss Norway and California’s shared values and ambitions to address climate change while balancing the need for sustainable economic growth after the -COVID-19 pandemic. Day 2 also included the signing of the memorandum of understanding between Dee Myers, Director, Go-Biz, and Håkon Haugli, CEO, Innovation Norway.
During the pandemic, Myreze has been expanding its capabilities within virtual production as well as utilizing the virtual technology for communication. This project provided a great opportunity to showcase this technology as a means to create a conversation between nations at a special time in history where nobody could travel or meet in the physical world.
The world is ready for a better way to communicate with each other and this step, though large, may be the first one towards a more connected future.