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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

Free Solo Climbing El Capitan 360 Video

Gold Honor in 360 Video

Audience Honor in 360 Video


The National Geographic documentary film "Free Solo" is a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world's most famous rock, the 3,000 foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, without a rope.

The film is an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete who challenges both his body and his beliefs on a quest to triumph over the impossible, revealing the personal toll of excellence. The award-winning filmmakers, E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, have succeeded in beautifully capturing deeply human moments with Honnold as well as the death-defying climb with artistry and masterful, vertigo-inducing camerawork.

Leading up to the film's release in theaters nationwide in September, National Geographic wanted to create an immersive experience that would inspire viewers and dare them to ask themselves: "If Alex can do this with his fear—what can I do with mine?" And "What are the frontiers of the human spirit?"

Strategy and Execution

Free soloing takes extraordinary commitment because you're climbing without a safety system to catch you. Simply put, if you don't perform perfectly, you die. It is the purest form of climbing, and the most dangerous. It's just you and the rock with no margin for error.

While the film "Free Solo" would tell this story, Nat Geo wanted to come up with an added way for viewers to feel first-hand the dangers and excitement of climbing El Capitan without a rope. So the brand created an editorial companion to the award-winning film that would help transport viewers to El Capitan and help them experience Alex Honnold's monumental climb for themselves.

The VR video had a special release, on the same day as the film's theatrical release. It was launched during a special event at New York-City-based climbing gym where Jimmy Chin and Alex Honnold surprised climbers with free tickets to the NYC premiere.


This Free Solo Climbing El Capitan 360-video was selected by Forbes as one of their top 15 VR videos of 2018.

Overall, with 1.2 Million views on YouTube, the video was one of National Geographic's top performing VR releases of 2018.


Video for Free Solo Climbing El Capitan 360 Video

Entrant Company / Organization Name

National Geographic, Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi, Framestore


Entry Credits