David Attenborough’s First Life

Join David Attenborough on an epic journey 350 billion years into the past to experience the origin of life on Earth.

Platform : Oculus TV

Runtime : 12 mins

Release : November 2021

In more than 60 years of broadcasting, David Attenborough has travelled the globe to document the living world in all its wonder. Now, with Alchemy Immersive and MetaQuest, he travels back in time using VR to bring to life long-extinct fossils that unlock the secrets of what the very first animals on our planet were like, how they moved and how they thrived.

At a quality unprecedented for immersive media, journey back over 3.5 billion years, to plot the story of how life evolved from single-celled organisms into the ferocious predators that stalked the seafloor. Putting on an Oculus Quest 2, users will have the opportunity to come face to face with bizarre creatures such as the five-eyed Opabinia, the fearsome-looking Anomalocaris, and the spiny worm-like Hallucigenia – scientifically accurate animations bring them vividly to life.

First Life shows us how evolutionary features of the first creatures have passed to modern animals, including humans, giving us an amazing insight into the remarkable evolutionary journey that has brought us the animal kingdom we know today. Now available on Oculus TV.

First Life was created out of the mutual desire of both Meta Quest and Alchemy Immersive, to push the boundaries of computer-generated immersive media production. One of its key goals was to inform studios and creators around the world how to further immerse mobile VR users in virtual worlds, without being subject to the limitations of real-time computation. By pre-rendering complex computer-generated immersive stories in stereoscopic 8K 60fps video, First Life presents a new milestone for beautiful natural history story-telling while also setting a new bar for quality in mobile VR headsets.

First Life showcases the potential and power of immersive storytelling by creating an experience impossible in any other format, outside of the constraints of real-time game-engine computation. Utilising world-leading paleontological research from global experts, and breakthroughs in CGI technology, Alchemy Immersive created scientifically accurate 3D models and animation in collaboration with ZOO VFX.

Experience David Attenborough’s First Life from 23rd November on Quest headsets. Find out more at: alchemyimmersive/firstlife

Behind the Scenes

One of the biggest challenges of First Life was translating the incredible 3D 8K content from flat screen into VR 360 content. This involved a lot of imaginative work extending the set around the ancient arthropods while preserving the 3D.

When developing the look for First Life, the team landed on a dark environment, evoking the deep ocean, with the source of light coming from the node that marks the beginning of single-celled existence. As life develops, and we move through time, tendrils spring from the nodes, glowing as the user arrives at each specific moment in prehistory. As the user travels up the timeline, each node explodes into more and more tendrils, illustrating the expansion of life in Earth’s ancient oceans.

The team designed an experience that would submerge viewers into our planet’s breath-taking ancient oceans and engage them with the secrets of how life began on Earth, with spatial sound design by 1.618 Digital and David Attenborough as their guide.

Meet creatures such as the Ammonite, the fearsome-looking Anomalocaris, the five-eyed Opabinia, and the nimble Trilobyte, the most successful colonizer of its time.



David Attenborough


Elliot Graves
Matthew Baker-Jones


Anthony Geffen

Visual Effects Producer

Vikas Gandhi

Executive Producer (Meta Quest)

Eric Cheng

Producer (Meta Quest)

Johnathan Gleit


Richard Lester

VFX Supervisor

Bhaumik Patel

Design Director

Steve McGeorge

Production Manager

Char Arthurs

Sound Design & Spatial Mix

Oliver Kadel
(1.618 Digital)

Title Animation

Valentina Kosov

3D Lead Artist

Matthew Baker-Jones

3D Modelling and Animation

Vladmir Venkov
Craig Mepham


Nikolay Kulishev
Zoubein Rana
Ben Beckett

Motion Graphics

Lee Robinson

Managing Director

Claudia Perkins

Business & Legal

Mimi Gilligan

Production Accountant

Vincent Pretorius

Head of Facilities

Conor Moss

Head of IT

Steve Cullen

Atlantic Productions is one of the world’s leading factual production companies whose TV and theatrical films have been seen in over 150 countries.

Emmy-award winning Zoo are leaders in 4k VFX production and have a wealth of experience in stereoscopic production.

The multi award-winning Colossus Productions produce high-end 3D films for an international audience.