Archive for the 'film' Category

Sundance 2016

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Waves was a complete success at the New Frontier Exhibit of the Sundance Film Festival this year. I got my Sundance member card and participated in a series of discussions, panels and interviews with many interesting creative people that have a lot to say about virtual reality and storytelling. Here are some of them: @brillhart Principal VR filmmaker at Google, @Saschkaunseld Creative Director at Oculus Story Studio, my creative partners on Waves @BrainDickinson & @ReggieWatts, @PatrickTOsborne Director of Disney’s Feast, @ImmersiveJourno godmother of virtual reality, and @djabatt of course.

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Anamorphic iPhone lens

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

@djabatt just gave me a 1.33x anamorphic lens adapter from Moondog Labs for my iPhone. It’s great. Now I finally believe you can make movies with an iPhone, or at least use it to reliably preview real movie stuff. I love it.

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Gone

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

I spent a couple of months this Summer working with JT Petty on a virtual reality serialized science fiction thriller called GONE that got released today on Samsung’s MilkVR interactive spherical video platform. You can’t really experience it unless you have a GearVR with a compatible Samsung phone, but there are enough resources available online to give you an idea of what this is about, starting with this article on Variety.

GONE is a joint effort from Wevr, Skybound and Samsung to dive deep into the mostly unexplored waters of cinematic storytelling in virtual reality. This means we had to take the format a bit more seriously than it had been done before, starting with the scope and length of the story, cinematic language and camera movements, all the way to building a system that allows the audience to actually explore the scene at will through interactive features, taking them as close as possible to the notion of presence, or being there, that is key to VR. While you watch GONE, you have the choice to explore the settings of a scene at will, and by doing so you might gain better insight into some aspect of the story, but you might also miss out on something equally important just behind your shoulder. So every time you play an episode you will experience a slightly different story based of how you chose to explore the scene.

In order to achieve this, we shot every scene from multiple vantage points, and developed a playback system with a universal timeline that allows you to “jump” between multiple concurrent video tracks. The sense of being there while the scene unfolds around you is outstanding. When I think about all the limitations imposed to us by our 360° video capture, postproduction and playback tools, I can only begin to imagine how powerful this medium will become once better solutions have been developed to support our creative practice. GONE is the first time I watch a VR piece that feels as engaging in terms of story as any of my favorite TV shows, and this the result of JT’s excellent screenwriting in combination with the craft and effort we put into understanding what it means to tell a story in VR, and how to achieve this using the tools we had at the time.

Hello Sundance

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Four virtual reality WEVR productions just got selected to be part of the Sundance Film Festival 2016 New Frontiers exhibit. I worked as Creative Director in two of them, Hard World for Small Things and Waves, and I feel quite accomplished to have my name featured in the Sundance Film Festival website surrounded by such a talented group of people.

In particular, Waves is one of two projects where I spent most of my hours this year. It’s pretty cool. It was written and directed by Ben Dickinson, and it features Reggie Watts and Nathalie Emmanuel in a reality bending philosophical-musical comedy, where nothing is what it seems or seems to be what it is. I can’t wait for the day we make it publicly available.

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The advent of computational photography

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Ever since I started working in cinematic Virtual Reality I have fantasized about the time when cameras will evolve from optics based mechanical contraptions to sensor based computational machines. Instead of projecting light into a flat image using lenses, computational photography collects data from the environment and uses it to reconstruct the scene after the fact. I find this subject matter fascinating. In fact, I almost attended Frédo Durand’s Computational Photography class at MIT, but I got too busy fooling around with symbolic programming and pattern recognition instead. I was not surprised to find out that Frédo is an advisor for the upcoming Light L16 digital camera. It looks insane and I definitely want one.

Before we had a Light 16 we had Lytro, a company famous for their shoot-first, focus-later consumer level funny looking cameras. To my knowledge this was the first time ever a data driven photography device has ever hit the consumer market. I didn’t get one, and I didn’t get their next generation DSLR model, but I always believed the Lytro guys were up to something interesting. It made total sense to me when they announced a few months ago they had begun development of a light field camera for Virtual Reality, and I even thought they might actually be the ones to pull that off.

Later I learned Wevr had been selected as a development partner to try the first working prototypes of Lytro’s VR capture system, called Immerge, and I might get to play with it before the end of this year. It will be a great relief after a couple of years dealing with custom rigs made with GoPro cameras and the limitations and difficulties inherited from having to stitch a bunch of deformed images at the very beginning of the postproduction pipeline. And since capturing light fields delivers data instead of pictures, you can move inside the scene almost like you were actually there, instead of being limited to just look around it.

Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal sums it up in a recent press release: “To get true live-action presence in VR, existing systems were never going to get you there. To really do this, you need to re-think it from the ground up.” I can’t agree more.

Lytro Immerge from Lytro on Vimeo.

VR Filming all Weekend

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

After a very busy month filming all over California for a secret VR project with Skybound and Samsung, I just began the month of August filming all weekend for another two Wevr productions that I supervised as Creative Director. One of them is a VR short film called Hard World For Small Things, directed by Janicza Bravo, and the other one is a VR music video for the song Crown by Run the Jewels, directed by Peter Martin.

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On location for Hard World

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On location for Hard World

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Killer Mike performing on set

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El-P performing on set

Coastline Apparition – Old Habits

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

I just finished my first music video. I shot it last Summer in West LA for the band Coastline Apparition with a Canon 5D Mark II and a Black Magic Pocket camera. I color graded and cut it in DaVinci Resolve and finished it in Adobe After Effects.

The piece features Swedish model Chloe Cole trying to find a future in a place that has a lot to offer but wont give anything away. This seemed to be a perfectly appropriate subject matter to frame the song with a visual narrative, and it gave Chloe a canvas to perform a fictional character that was close enough to her real self.