This blog is the one that will most likely outdate itself quickest. Camera technology is moving at lightning speed and with the holiday's approaching, I'm sure new cameras will be pouring out of the wazoo, more people will buy them, and new techniques will quickly be established. How do you shoot 360 content? This is the question that my team and I spent most of our time answering before we set out to shoot the campaign.
We tried many different cameras including the Hero360, Kodak PixPro, InstaPix and even the Ozo, the most expensive option on the market. The files are so big, however, it takes 3 days to stitch 20 minutes of footage. Finally we got our hands on the Samsung Gear 360 which hasn't been released in the US yet. We tried it, loved it, and bought 20 more from a guy on Ebay. It has its faults (like overheating when you run it for 10 hours in the 110 degree heat of Manila) but then again, so do all of us.
After the tech, the question was how. How do you shoot 360 video? What can or can't you do?
Well, what's exciting right now (and not for much longer) is that there aren't many rules. Movies are rather formulaic– Over the shoulder, reverse, two-shot medium, finish with a wide of the room. But as I mentioned in part 1, 360 content requires us take a step back and think differently. Think about a film as if you're looking through a window with a telescope. The window only sees so much and with the telescope you can get really close, or look from far away. What you gain in 360 is full immersion and discovery. You're now outside the window. The camera we're using as filmmakers is like a omniscient human head. So that extreme close up on the protagonist's face to elevate the tension in a break up scene doesn't translate the same way.
People started filming 360 video by simply placing these cameras in the middle of a scene and leaving them for long takes. It works– it's simple, transportive, and the viewer has time to explore. My team and I are use to making exciting, high energy, editorial content so these long takes weren't doing it for us. Our goal was (and still is) to add as much energy as we could without it becoming unwatchable.
The purpose of 360 technology is in direct opposition to that traditional style of content. Also, the way people so far have shot 360 footage is not the same way one would shoot a Super Bowl ad. In both cases, the results of 360 videos are slow. Loooong takes that could last minutes and quickly lose the attention of our modern audience. Now, the argument against that would be that ideally, these immersive cameras are being placed in engaging scenes. That you don't need to have a cutty video when you can watch an exciting scenario unfold before your eyes. Additionally, the viewer wants to have time to explore a scene, so you don't want to cut away too quickly. This is all true but with VR, as I mentioned, there are no industry norms or rules yet established and my team and I want to take 360 to the next level. We want to blur the lines between current VR and traditional content.
We tested setups, rigs, different types of motion, scenes, and actions for weeks– slowly creating our own list of do's and don't's. Get the camera close to the action, stabilize it in some way, have a focal point, either be in the action or BE the action and remember to smile! Because it's 360 right? There's no behind the camera :) At the end, our plan was to take these cameras into high energy activities (like GoKarting, zip lining, speedboating), secure and stabilize them, and go. The results are pretty epic. I can't wait to share with you all our final product and you can judge for yourself if our attempts to elevate the first wave of 360 content worked or not. So much of this is hard explain in words.
I can't wait to update this post. As this project finishes, we'll jump into another and discover more things you can do in 360. That's the best part of being a creative– pushing the limits with something so new, you can't even find a reference for comparison of it being done "right". For now, there is no right or wrong, just new.