Virtual Reality Filmmaking Toolkit

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How about we go on an adventure together? How about we go and see the great wall of China? Or how about we learn what we have to do when the building is on fire? Do you want to take a class on Ancient Rome and actually get to see it without leaving the comfort of our home? This is what virtual reality is all about. Are you a fan of 3D and Imax, but you found yourself distracted by your fellow audience members munching on their pop corn? Let nothing spoil your experience. Virtual reality is here, and it’s full of possibilities for all of us, businessmen/women, doctors, teachers and, of course, you, indie filmmakers!

The New York Times have released their virtual reality app in November 2015 thus reaching a new milestone both in journalism and storytelling. Their goal was to "shed light on life blossoming in the shadows of war." That is to say, put some humanity in problematics of human condition. Isn't that, after all, the common aim of both journalism and art? They just did it with a groundbreaking, yet still nascent medium.

It was only 20 years ago that legendary critic Roger Ebert mused about virtual reality, wondering what it would be like to start a movie with Julia Roberts smiling at us and inviting us into the story, or to be inside "The Third Man". Now, this could be possible. We haven't lived up to the expectations set by science fiction, all of "Back to the Future" has now happened in the past, and we've sort of been lied to about hoverboards, so there's really nothing holding us back anymore.

Raindance is as dedicated to discovering new voices and new stories as it is to finding new ways to tell these stories. That’s why we created WebFest, and that’s why we’ve built this virtual reality filmmaking toolkit.


Storytime

Virtual reality has been sort of the definition of art since its inception, hasn’t it? You immerse yourself in a world which, hopefully, leaves you changed and moved ever so slightly. It has always been a first-person experience, since even in a huge movie theatre you’ll see a different movie from what your friend saw. Because no one else but you has walked in your shoes.

Storytelling has always been a powerful tool, whatever the medium, and cinema has been pushing boundaries since its inception. When the Lumière brothers showed their first film, The arrival of the train in La Ciotat station, people ducked, because they thought the train was headed their way. Now, how about we gave these people a headset, earphones and make them watch a virtual reality film? Talk about a shock.


Technology from the future

Since then, we’ve had black and white, then sound, then Technicolor, all the way to Imax and 3D to replicate a first-person experience at the movies. And virtual reality is the next big step. We're still at the beginning, yet we know that Facebook bought Oculus, and we also know that when Marc Zuckerberg wants something to happen, odds are it will. (Their film studio is staffed with people from Pixar and ILM.)

We’re going for a DIY, lo-to-no budget kind of VR filmmaking. Of course, DIY virtual reality may look better when you’re Google, but we’re not far behind.  You can also read this account of the making of the first VR short film made in Canada for less than $3,000.

We've been talking about narrative fiction, but you can definitely think (in the longer term) of uses for documentary features, too. VR is an insanely compelling way to tell stories, be they fiction or not. So why couldn't it change journalism while you're at it? For instance, we've seen pictures of the devastation of Syria. A journalist covered the battles in Aleppo in virtual reality, and you can see it all here. Facebook, with Oculus, is now working on a real-time VR teleporter. You can follow a ballerina as she's rehearsing. In a whole other realm, porn mogul Marc Dorcel has already produced two virtual reality films. See, there are many possibilities.

Virtual reality is one of the many endeavors that Google has launched in its projects to enhance human experience, human beings, and life itself. Its claimed objective is to kill death. (You know, achievable goals.) Doesn’t the ride sound exhilarating? We’ve discovered lots of opportunities, and we’re on the cusp of discovering many more. Want to help discover some? Good. So, how about we go on an adventure?

[See Raindance Hands On VR Workshop in London]

 

Virtual Reality Filmmaking Toolkit

Get started | Write It | Shoot It | Edit It Show It

 

Baptiste Charles-Aubert
Baptiste is currently Raindance's Postgraduate Degree Registrar. A writer who comes from the part of France where it's always sunny, with a background having studied in a business school and having written about diversity in film. But what he really does is make up stories and write narrative fiction. He knows cuteness, because he once saw a unicorn eat a cupcake.

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