Part 3 here we go. As with most blogs, the regularity you hope for rarely pans out. But here it is– 360: Post Production.
We left a lot of unanswered questions for post to figure out. Every day there felt like a new hurdle to jump. From processing power and previewing to creative decisions and viewer predictions, post production was rife with learning. I won’t bore you with the technical 411 but rather bring you into our thoughts and theory behind what we did on the editing floor.
The big question: Will it work? Let’s recap quickly. We’re making a digital, 360 campaign for a global hotel chain. We want to combine new technology, authentic experiences and new media. Our plan was to give guests and influencers 360 cameras and have them capture their point of view in a way that’s authentic and engaging. As we’ve mentioned, it seems like we have two competing ideas or styles. Traditional, high paced, user generated content captured on a camera system and style that is suppose to be stationary and more about interaction than fast-paced editorial. Will it work?
Unfortunately, I’m not going to answer that question because it’s not up to me.
Does it work? I’m actually asking. What do you think?
The whole post process felt like a massive trial and error experiment. As with any piece of content, we soon found ourselves wishing for shots we didn’t have or captured in a different way but we were determined not to let that derail us. After a week or so, we locked in on the type of footage that we felt bridged the gap between 360 and traditional content. This ultimately lead to the two question we spent the next few months trying answer.
Firstly, how much can we get away with. We played with edits where the shots lasted 15-20 seconds and edits loaded with jump cuts, speed ramps, and high energy. Ou traditional training and new media were waging an all out war inside of us. But, going back to the first 360 blog, we needed to change our mindset. There are no examples for this done “properly”– it was up to us to decide what “properly” means. We ended up landing on a rough structure– a cadence of “Short, short, looooooooong. Short, short looooooooong.” The “short” parts were those authentic, user generated moments that felt very 2D– not ideal for 360 viewing. But we never would linger too long before injecting a long short which allows for the viewer to spend time exploring. It had the energy we wanted and the engagement 360 content offers.
The second question we had to answer was how will people be consuming these videos? The biggest piece of feedback we kept getting during post was, “I got lost. I didn’t know where to look”. That’s exactly the problem we were going to have to overcome if we wanted to bridge the gap between these styles. People love 360 video because you can turn all the way around. But when you cut, you better hope the person is looking the right way or else they’ll be whipping their heads back and forth like they’re trying to find the mosquito that’s biting their face. Editorially, match cuts became our friend. We began to assess every shot and predict where is the most likely place for someone to look during this shot? Then, we’d pick the next shot based on something interesting in that same place. For example, if you’re standing next to the Patronus Towers in Kuala Lumpur, everyone wants to look up at the buildings. In the next shot, we better have something interesting up in the sky like a bird or a plane or Superman so that you follow our narrative around the sphere. It quickly became a question not just about when we cut but which way we orient the shots and what’s happening in the shots that can guide the viewers gaze to the next scene.
Those are just two big questions we had to answer. We were able to use graphics, sound design and other devices to help move our narrative along and guide the viewer through the story. In focus groups, we found that most people watched these videos sitting down which actually cuts off the back 90 degrees since people can’t turn completely around which helped us push important content to the front of the sphere. I was funny, about a week after we finished, Google released a 360 video tutorial which covered 95% of the things we’d spent the last 4 months learning. It’s cool to be in the first wave of a new technology. Even as I write this last blog, we’ve acquired a new 360 camera rig that exponentially increases our quality and opportunities with this medium. I’m sure in 2 months, there will be another. More to learn, more to test out, more stories to tell.
Thanks for staying tune. It’s helpful even for me to write these thoughts down and reflect on the process– finding areas to improve in the future. If you don’t like 360 video or VR, well that’s tough because it’s going to be everywhere. In some ways, it already is. It could never fully replace classic cinema but what it does do is give us content creators another tool in our shed to tell new stories in new ways.
See our final products here: www.stgiles360.com