Virtual Reality holds the promise to be even more transformative than the flat Web was – reaching every segment of every market and making it virtually accessible.
Brian Shuster, Wired
VR is the hot new buzzword in film.
Unless you have been living in a cave without internet access you will know that VR [virtual reality] is the biggest innovation in filmmaking since the advent of online film distribution that started on 15th February 2005 with the launch of Youtube.com.
Long considered the dream of geeks and techno dreamers, Virtual Reality burst onto the scene in the late 1980s. Back then the technical capabilities did not match the aspirations of aficionados and it quickly died. In the intervening years Virtual Reality was kept alive by the USA military, the NASA project and Walt Disney – all of whom researched technical solutions and did exhaustive studies of the effect on Virtual Reality on viewers.
Now it’s back: companies like the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and their Story Lab, Nokia, Microsoft, Samsung and a host of others are pouring big bucks into Virtual Reality. They are developing the technology, and more importantly for independent filmmakers, the content this new advance is screaming for.
Not since the introduction of sound to movies has their been such a major advance in filmmaking technology.
Virtual Reality has crossed into the mainstream blindingly fast. The Oculus Rift is a head-mounted display for immersive technology virtual reality (VR). In March 2014, Facebook agreed to acquire Oculus VR for US$2 billion in cash and Facebook stock. Their new $600 headset started shipping in March 2016. To compete Samsung and Sony PlayStation have developed headsets as well. Google launched an open source viewer called Google Cardboard in 2014. This headset costs next to nothing.
In 2015 GoPro cameras and Google teamed up to create Jump – an innovative ecosystem of cameras and editing which allows viewers to experience 360/VR. In June 2015 Bjork published a music video and in January 2016 Raindance Film Festival launched a VR strand soliciting new VR shorts to be screened in London’s autumn event.
You can watch Bjork’s ground breaking video on your laptop using tracking arrows, or on your smartphone by moving your phone around. It’s a very basic video where Bjork moves around the 4 quadrants: 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees. She made this video in June 2015.
At Raindance you can learn how to make your own 360/Virtual Reality movie.
With technology moving so tremendously fast, and with commercial opportunities lining up in their dozens, filmmakers need to be aware of the possibilities and potential offered by Virtual Reality. The hardware manufacturers are painfully aware that there is precious little 360/VR content.
An audit in January 2016 found that there are only 6,000 360/VR professionals worldwide. This number is increasing dramatically. Could the next VR professional be you?
This weekend practical workshop will introduce you to the basics of 360/VR: how it looks and feels, how it works and how it is shot and edited. You’ll get a feel for this new medium and start to understand how drama and story can be created.
You’ll be able to participate in a hands on workshop and ask our technicians about the equipment used for production and post-production, and work with our story consultants on how to write, direct and produce a VR short.
What you will learn
Until 2015 VR was only accessible to those with access to expensive equipment. Our tutors will demonstrate current equipment and show you how to make a low budget 360/VR film. Participants should bring a wifi enabled smartphone in order to experience VR themselves.
Saturday 10:00am – 5pm : 360/VR Basics
By the end of this day participants will be aware of the possibilities and limitations of shooting 360/VR films. The object of the day is to allow participants to understand the technology and to learn how to develop stories for this new medium.
Session 1: Where Virtual Reality is at today
A brief history of VR, plus a 360/VR and demonstration of current work. Google cardboard will be provided to all participants.
Session 2: Watch a live 360/Virtual Reality demonstration
Our technicians will set up and shoot a short demonstration of VR, illustrating common pitfalls and opportunities offered by VR. You will see a simple scene shot. You will start to get an idea of what VR looks like. More importantly you will see the results within an hour.
Session 3: Working Lunch: Script development for Virtual Reality
You admission will include a ‘film craft services lunch’ during which you will be broken into teams of five. At lunch you will write a scenario for a short scene to be filmed in the afternoon.
Session 4: Lets shoot a 360/Virtual Reality short
Join a small group. Each will shoot their short. Watch your colleagues shoot. See how they handle the practical issues of shooting on Virtual Reality. Then take your turn to shoot and direct a 360/VR short.
Session 5: Screening of student work.
View and critique the days work.
Session 6: Optional networking drinks
The film industry is a people industry. Having just had a shared experience why not take an hour to socialise and see if you can find a like-minded soul you can collaborate with.
Sunday 10:00am – 5pm : Workshopping and Viewing 360/VR rushes
Now the real fun begins! Participants will now develop and shoot a 2-3 minute film with at least two scenes. The camera will move, and participants will see how different camera positions and edits work with story.
Work with our technicians and see how the rushes are edited.
The days films will be viewed and discussed
A group discussion on how VR can be applied in a commercial setting. IE – how can you turn this weekend’s knowledge into paid work.
Who should attend
The hardware manufacturers are crying out for content. Can you create content for 360/VR? This weekend introduction is designed for independent filmmakers, film producers and visual storytellers eager to access the new story-telling possibilities offered by this exciting new medium.
About the tutor
Johnny Johnson is a VR evangelist who embraced the world of 360° filmmaking at the very start of its current incarnation in 2014. Having initiated his career by studying at Westminster Film School, he went on to become a freelance camera assistant on a wide range of commercials, movies and TV dramas. In 2007 he formed a facilities rental company and has continued to work in production facilities and media business development for a range of broadcast and media organisations since. Alongside this work, he as produced a number of shorts, commercials and a horror feature. He currently operates SpeedVR as a resource for the 360° VR filmmaking community, whilst working as a VR producer on