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“My life and career in documentary has been focused on civil rights and the struggle for justice. What I wanted to do for this piece was to immerse our audience both in Ashe’s extraordinary victory and in his experience of rising to the fore in 1968 where the focus of the world was less on his athleticism and more on his being black. I wanted to help the audience understand that beneath his cool personality was an inner life that wrestled with the pressures of that time.”
Brad Lichtenstein, Author
The Ashe ’68 Virtual Reality Experience brings viewers into the moments right before Arthur Ashe’s historic 1968 US Open win. The immersive documentary weaves together 360° video re-creations, archival material, and 360° stop-motion sand animation to tell the story. In virtual reality, the viewer witnesses Ashe’s historic day, from his walk through the halls of the West Side Tennis Club to his historic pre-match press conference to his winning match point.
The 8-minute Ashe ’68 VR Experience premiered at the the 2018 US Open as part of the 50th Anniversary of the US Open and Arthur Ash’s historic win. In addition to traveling to other top-tier international tennis events, the experience will be shared with audiences attending screenings of the forthcoming Arthur Ashe feature documentary.
To create this immersive experience, director Brad Lichtenstein combined live action with sand animation. The animation team, consisting of Masha Vasilkovsky and Ruah Edelstein of Lumen Animae, stated, “The use of sand animation technique for virtual reality is an exciting event in the world of animation. Being fluid and malleable, sand provides a strong graphic style and great morphing capabilities.”