Archive for the 'VR' Category

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.

Death Planet Rescue at MoPOP

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

Death Planet Rescue, my first immersive science fiction film for the Holodome, just opened to the public at MoPOP in Seattle.

I got to direct an incredible cast including the legendary Michael Ironside, who I remember from the long gone era when I was under eighteen and television was 640×480. I shouldn’t brag but for Death Planet Rescue we managed to push a total of 9600×4800 pixels per frame. That’s an immense picture resolution, but barely enough for the Holodome, who swallows it all and spits it back all around you, making you feel like you stepped into the picture.

I want to thank everyone involved in this production for their creativity and their dedication. We pulled off a crazy one 😀

Hello there, Shepperton Studios

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

I’ve been hanging out at Shepperton Studios with my friends from Wevr and a world class ensemble of English actors, dancers and film people to create a VR musical number that will blow your mind when it’s finished, but I can’t tell you what it is.

We are using out Yi Halo in production for the first time and I think this project is going to really show how good this camera is. Stitch-less 8k full dome stereoscopic 360 video.

VR Halloween for Hulu

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

This last month and a half has been completely crazy. Hulu reached out to us to collaborate on a Halloween special, and they gave us around five weeks to prepare, shoot and post produce two VR films for The House: A Hulu Halloween Anthology. They are called The Reckoning and The Tower, and they are both tied in to Let Us In and Seven Moons, two traditional television short episodes that can be watched in the regular Hulu streaming service.

All four stories and several others, take place in a shared narrative world where events and characters overlap, but they all stand by themselves, while offering audiences a deeper insight into a larger narrative if they happen to watch them all together. But I won’t say much more. I don want to spoil anyone the fun.

The Reckoning and The Tower are both available in the Hulu VR app on Daydream, Oculus, Playstation VR and Microsoft MR.

The team at Hulu knows how to grow the narrative scope of a television property using VR and other immersive media. As a director, I felt uniquely supported to execute my vision, and privileged to contribute in the making of an entirely new form of television storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, it was a challenging task, but I enjoyed the support of an amazing team and a great cast, and I had the time of my life directing these videos. We used a lot of campy practical special effects and electric guitars in the music score.

Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs Panel at AIGA Converge

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

I just presided as chair on a panel discussion around emerging design practices in VR called Real Knowledges, Virtual Designs: A Roundtable On Conducting Practice-Based Research In Virtual Reality at the AIGA Converge Conference in the School of Cinematic Arts at USC. The group featured an eclectic collection of VR practitioners including me, Samantha Gorman from Tender Claws, Kate Parsons from FLOAT, Tonia Beglari from Browntourage, and Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz from RUST Ltd. It was nice to hang out at USC with Adam again, who put this all together and was the best Teacher Assistant ever a few years back, when I taught IML-400 there.

VR Story Panel at the Ivy Film Festival

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Last Summer I spent some time mentoring —and taking advantage of— Adam Hersko-Ronatas, my intern from Brown University at Wevr. As a gifted filmmaker interested in VR, he worked in almost all the productions we were running at the time, positively influencing every single one of them. And he was even able to find the time to produce his own VR film called Parched, that has been selected for a couple of festivals already, like the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle.

Adam’s accomplishments are well deserved, and I’m grateful that he invited me to spend last weekend at Brown University talking about VR as a medium for storytelling. I met a lot of great people, and I had a few interesting conversations with music composer Germaine Franco, Senior Editor Graham Roberts from the New York Times and Adam Blumenthal, VR artist in residence at Brown University. I spent most of my time at The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, and amazing building with lots of interesting art and media stuff in it. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about the MIT Media Lab while I was there 😀

Mangchi Live at Viva! Pomona

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Wevr just made available on Transport a couple of pieces I directed last year featuring the band Mangchi performing live at Viva! Pomona. This is pretty cool. We used the Google/Gopro Jump Odyssey camera system that completely removes the painful step of stitching together stereoscopic spherical footage. Basically you film your stuff with your 16 camera rig, upload the footage to the Google cloud Jump service, and get back perfectly beautiful stereoscopic equirectangular footage ready to be enhanced with a traditional postproduction workflow. No more countless hours stitching together every camera.

In addition to this, David and Mangchi let us put our cameras anywhere we wanted —something uncommon when capturing a live performance, since the best location for a VR 360 camera is always right where somebody wants to be. Thanks to this we managed to capture the heart at the madness that only Mangchi can deliver and inspire on their audience. From their backstage naked body-painting rituals to privileged spots on the stage and the middle of the mosh pit, we get you as close as you can get to experiencing the raw power of this eclectic band at its fullest, loudest, and most colorful.

Here is a 360 Preview in youTube: