VR: HOW DID THEY SHOOT THAT?

Written by Fred Bailey

3/13/2017

If you were at the Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival last December, then you know Virtual Reality was at center stage.

VR is often 3D computer-generated.  Nevertheless, there’s such a thing as live-action VR, and it’s pretty much a mind-blower.  You get fully engrossed in it, and whichever way you turn your head, you’re still in it.

How the heck do they shoot that?

You recall the immemorial image of the guy with his camera on a tripod and his cap turned backwards as he leans in to look through the viewfinder.  That goes all the way back to the birth of the movies.

But where does the cameraman stand if the camera can see 360o?  And that includes up/down, left/right, backwards and forwards.

There are only a handful of VR cameras out there for professional use.  Some production companies are still using home-made constructions.

On the other hand, Nokia, the decades-old phone company, has re-imagined itself by offering a VR camera called OZO, a high-end piece of gear with a price tag of $45,000.  It’s a spherical contraption that captures a 360-degree field of view with eight lenses.

And the question of where the cinematographer stands is answered by including live monitoring.

On professional film sets, the director and crew can see what they’re shooting on a live video monitor, even if they’re shooting on film.

However, the computational muscle required in VR is prodigious.  It takes time to digitally stitch all that imagery together coming from several different cameras so it’s got a smooth and natural feel.  That used to mean you’d have to wait a good while after you’re done shooting to see what you shot.

But Ozo’s got dynamic rendering.  Which means filmmakers can put on VR goggles and see what’s being shot in real time right now.

And it means the camera operator doesn’t have to stand behind (or under) the camera.

How’s it look?  UploadVR editor-in-chief Will Mason calls Ozo’s output “some of the best VR live action content you’ve ever seen.”

Mason served as a panelist at the HETFest in December and was also a judge in the start-up competition.