Archive for June, 2018

Waterloo 360 for Mamma Mia

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Universal Pictures just released a 360 music video I directed last year for the movie franchise Mamma Mia.

What an awesome challenge. When you watch a contemporary musical you will experience a lot of cuts, one every few seconds, and coverage and closeups and all that. So cast members that are not dancers don’t have to memorize an entire sequence, they’re just doing it move by move. In this case, we shot an entire two and a half minute long dance choreography around a moving camera as a one take. The piece was filmed with no cuts and the camera was recording in all directions. Absolutely nothing could go wrong anywhere at all.

Prior to shooting I met in Shepperton Studios near London with the film producers, and they introduced me to Anthony Van Laast, the film choreographer, as well as his team, and a specialized camera crew from the film. Together we designed a 360 dance number based on the original choreography from the movie, and a camera motion path in relation to the dancers, so that the camera’s vantage point felt exactly like that of a person walking on set while surrounded by everyone else. The choreographers were absolutely world class. And the dancers understood 360 staging immediately, because that’s what they do. It’s close enough to their training. For the actors, to switch from a cinematic style to a more theatrical one, staying in character and dancing the entire sequence, it was a real challenge. But as you will be able to see, they did it. They pulled it off.

Because it’s a dance piece, I felt depth and gravity were key, so we made sure to get the best stereoscopic 360 capture available today, and we made sure the floor was featured properly, because dancers’ movements are grounded in the floor. This is always a challenge in 360 stereoscopic 3D. We were fortunate enough to get a Yi Halo camera —compatible with the Google Jump automatic stitching software— had just come out, so we used it for the first time on this shoot which was obviously an additional challenge. But it’s the first camera in existence that that gives you high quality stitch-less full dome stereoscopic video In 360°. Before this camera we would have to film Panoramas with holes on top and bottom, and patch-in the floor later. You can imagine how that would be a problem when you have all these dancers’ feet all over the dance floor.

If you can, please experience this video using a Oculus Go or something similar. The desktop and mobile versions you can watch on your computer screen, tablet or phone won’t do it enough justice and I’m so proud of it. I think it’s really fun.