Immerse yourself in 360° 3D videos of the nicest locations on the island. Let your headset take you there in full 360° 3D with spatial audio. Let yourself feel the heights of the cliffs, and the beauty of the hills and forests. Relax on a beach, walk along levadas (irrigation channels), or visit Funchal.From the product description
About the Madeira Islands
The Madeira Islands, also known as the Autonomous Region of Madeira, are a stunning archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands have a rich history and are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Despite its natural beauty, the Madeira Islands are often overlooked by travelers. However, with just a 90-minute flight from Lisbon, it’s an easily accessible destination.
The archipelago is comprised of two inhabited islands, Madeira (this app’s focus) and Porto Santo, along with two uninhabited groups, the Desertas and the Selvagens. The island of Madeira has a population of around 250,000 people and measures about 300² miles (~800² km). Its capital city, Funchal, is located along the southern coast of the island and is a modern city situated within a natural geological “amphitheater”.
About the Experience
Travel VR titles vary considerably in quality and new ones don’t often show up on the scene. This is largely due to the money, equipment, and effort required to physically travel to the location, capture all the images or videos, then process them into something beautiful. Once you do all that work, you need to create an application to provide navigation, load the scenes, play sounds or narration, and do the other things that apps do.
Generally speaking, travel apps fall into the category of volumetric or video based. My favorite types of experiences use photogrammetry to create completely volumetric environments to walk around. They are incredibly immersive, but they require considerably more effort to go from photos and/or scans into a 3D modeled environment compared to working with 3D videos from specialized cameras (to be clear though, both types require hours of work).
If you’re looking for travel content, you can find plenty of videos of various levels of quality on YouTube or in the Explore app in Meta Quest. They can be nice for getting a taste of a location, but each tends to stand alone so they don’t create a cohesive experience. Visit Madeira goes the route of videos, but provides a nice interface with connected scenes, narration, and a vibrancy not usually seen in video-based apps like this.
Graphics and Sound
The 360° videos are very high quality and really showcase the natural and historic beauty of the region. Rather than capturing empty environments devoid of people, these clips include tourists and locals as they experience the views with you. Since they aren’t infinitely long, they loop after a minute or so. You wouldn’t think it would work, but their fleeting presence makes for a less sterile environment and is kind of fun.
My only complaint with the looping is it might be nice to fade the beginning and ends since it’s an abrupt jump when they replay. This is even more noticeable for the ambient sound which stops and starts with the loop and is jarring.
The ambient sound effects themselves include flowing streams, waterfalls, and the assorted sounds of nature. There is also pleasant music accompanying your visit. Along with that, there is high-quality narration to provide some context for each location. They further help with the immersion.
Unfortunately, the video isn’t HDR and has problems with light balance in various scenes. Bright areas are overblown, and dark areas drop off to blackness. In-between, the views are gorgeous, but it’s unfortunate that they aren’t more even. Regardless, there are many amazing visuals to enjoy.
The narration touches on the history of the region and different viewpoints so you can learn a little about the region. It’s not comprehensive, but it’s a nice addition. Though I didn’t try it, I was pleased to see different languages available for narration. Though this must add to the cost, it’s great to see a more inclusive result.
Navigation and Interactivity
When you launch the title, you are greeted by a 360° view with people sitting around in semi-darkness. Time is sped-up so even though they are mostly siting still, they fade in and out of different spots. It’s a fun effect.
To start traveling, you choose points on the map. As you point, you can see details to the left of the map to help you choose. Once you click on the spot, you are transported to the location via its video clip. Points on the map consist of multiple viewpoints so you can follow along a trail or walk around a spot. You can’t walk between viewpoints like in Blueplanet or BRINK since they are fixed-point, but you can click floating arrows to teleport. Each point is determined by the spot where the tripod sat to take the original video.
When you’re in a given location, the arrows provide a means to get around but eventually you’ll want to return to the map and choose a different location (although you can switch between viewpoints at a given location). I couldn’t figure out how to do this at first. As it turns out, you just look down at your feet and point and click. It calls this out on the menu, but it’s easy to forget once you’re travelling.
You can also toggle the background music and narration from the main menu. While at a location, you can toggle narration, but you have no control over the music. I also haven’t found any spot to toggle the ambient sound. A welcome addition would be indicators on the controllers to remind you what you can do, or the standard left-controller menu button to see options.
Updates and Support
So far, the developer is continuing to add new locations. I wouldn’t expect long-term updates, but they did tell me that there are still videos to process so expect at least a few more spots in the near future.
Visit Madeira is a great experience for exploring a beautiful region of Portugal. The videos are high-quality, and the map navigation is well done. If you can’t get there in the near future, you can get a nice look around in this app. The price was just a little steep at release, but it’s much more reasonable now.
- Good number of locations
- Nice context provided through narration
- Gorgeous visuals
- Video is not HDR and is blown out or dark in areas
- Controls, including returning to main menu, are not obvious once travelling
- The looping videos might look and sound better with some cross-fading
- We may earn a commission for purchases using our links.
- This product received for free (Code of Ethics)
- This product is an App Lab title.
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