@Djabatt and I just shot our first virtual reality video with the LA based DJ collective WEDIDIT. Inspired by the Boiler Room videos they had already been putting up un YouTube, they wanted to perform during a small private party that we would capture in VR to share with their fans.
It was a huge learning experience since VR video forces you to toss all the preconceptions you have about filmmaking. It’s just a completely different film. Instead of the carefully directed frame provided by traditional cinema, VR basically gives the camera back to the audience, and allows them to explore the scene at will. This interactive feature forces you to explore the content rather than just viewing it. It’s like being in the scene rather than watching it in a screen. The challenge becomes to find the right balance between this new agency to explore at will and the progression of events that weaves the story together. It’s all about delivering the important events without it mattering what you were looking at. You might miss the protagonist’s emotional expression while a key event unfolds around you, but you will learn something else about this event while we make sure you definitely register that it happened, as well as the impact it has to the rest of the story.
Think for example about a sport event with two opponents, like a boxing fight. Or it could be a tennis match or a basketball game. It doesn’t matter. If you’re one of the people that likes to witness these confrontations live, you’re aware that you might miss the decisive moment of the knockout punch that defines the outcome of this simple binary drama. Perhaps you were looking at some other people in the audience, or trying to get a vendor to refill your cup with beer when the fight abruptly came to a conclusion, but you will not miss the fact that it happened, and you will know that somebody won and somebody lost, and you will know how the crowd feels about it. Missing the key detail didn’t make you miss on the drama, and you will remember that you were there when it happened.
After some deliberation with the WEDIDIT guys, we decided to anchor the progression of the story using their music performances in combination with a set of clearly differentiated things to do while hanging out in any of the rooms in the house. We set up cameras in the stage next to the DJ booth, and in the the kitchen next to a chef that cooked all night with a flame thrower. We set up a chill room in the living room and an activity table with games and fluorescent art supplies in the dining room. And we hired a few incognito fake partiers to make sure something interesting would happen everywhere and people would circulate around the whole house. Then we shot for a few hours and the rest will be history once we figure out how to edit and post produce this stuff 😀