Nuclear nightmare: new VR film is a powerful wake-up call

Nuclear nightmare: new VR film is a powerful wake-up call

On the Morning You Wake is a great new VR movie for Meta Quest 2 that warns of the horrors of a nuclear attack.

In the morning hours of January 13, 2018, the Hawaiian people receive a shocking text message: a ballistic missile is on its way to the island. "Seek shelter immediately. This is not a drill," the message reads.

Panic breaks out among the 1.4 million inhabitants. People seek shelter in buildings, climb into sewers, place emergency calls. For 38 minutes, uncertainty and fear of death prevail until a second text message gives the all-clear: It was an accidental false alarm.

The VR film "In the Morning You Wake (To the End of The World)" shows how the inhabitants reacted to the emergency of a nuclear attack, and it does so using means that distinguish the narrative medium of virtual reality.

A VR film that gets under your skin

The half-hour documentary is rendered in real time on Meta Quest 2, allowing scenes to be walked freely. Many of the locations are composed of clouds of dots, meant to symbolize the nuclear shadow under which humanity lives. The dancing dots add visual dynamism to the VR film and stimulate the viewer's imagination, as they only show the world in outline.

Eine Hiroshima-Überlebende sitzt inmitten eines abstrakten digitalen Raums.

The documentary also features a Hiroshima survivor. | Image: ARTE France / Novelab / Atlas V

Everything is in motion. The documentary plays with tracking shots, perspectives and proportions, and in the midst of all this, the audience stands and experiences what Hawaii's inhabitants must have felt: a world come apart at the seams.

A warning to the world

Another special feature of the VR film is the volumetric actors and actresses, captured by 140 cameras from all sides, who appear in the scenes as holograms. They stand for the people who had to live through this nightmare and whose voices can be heard narrating in the documentary. The recordings come from 100 hours of interview material.


On the Morning You Wake is full of scenes that I will never forget, that are forever burned into my memory: a visualization of the impact of the Hiroshima bomb, nuclear missiles flying around the vulnerable-looking globe, and the final scene that makes a poignant appeal for nuclear disarmament by involving the audience.

The film is intended to educate, awaken and motivate people to take a stand against nuclear weapons. The official website has information on what steps you can take as an individual or group. You can learn more about the making of the VR film on the Oculus blog.

If you want to watch the documentary, you can download it for free for Meta Quest 2 in the Oculus Store. It is available in English and French, with German and English subtitles.

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