On a Virtual Reality filmset with the best stereoscopic 360 camera on planet earth

So, this is the set of Jihad. Welcome. Here is our camera, it sees 360 degress at once. Jihad is up on the catwalk, telling the audience about the cultural conflict he is in. He will end up in front of the camera, delivering his final message. Exciting about VR is the fact that we are still at the very beginning. A lot of people are experimenting, trying to find out what can be achieved with this new medium. There is no tool-kit, no proper, established way of how to tell a story in VR. You simply try something and see how it goes. The biggest challenge when it comes to VR storytelling is trying not to ignore the audience’s imagination. For example, when you’re reading a book, you use a lot of your imagination, you have to imagine how everything looks and sounds like. When you watch a video, a traditional movie, you have to imagine everything that exists outside the frame. So, usually the audience relies on it’s imagination to fill out the gaps. But in a 360° scene, everything is already there. Wherever you decide to look, there is information for you to process. The audience gets showered with information. I think, when you tell a story in 360° video, you should design the narrative in a way that still leaves an opening for the viewer’s imagination. You shouldn’t dampen or kill the imagination of your audience, you should always stimulate it. That’s why VR demands very special stories. It’s more complicated than directing a traditional movie-scene, where you only have to manage what’s inside your frame, you have to think in all directions. The most challenging thing for me is the timing of the story and all the different sub-plots, how to make everything work together. You have to decide if you want to split the whole thing up into smaller scenes or if you should go for a one-take. Both approaches can be quite challenging. The whole set, everything that happens around the camera, has to be taken into account. The audience will not only see a tiny frame of the set that we got to prepare and design, they will see everything that happened. So, we have to think of everything – how do we position the actors around the camera, what about the story, the lighting and the geography of the set. There are a lot of technical options when it comes to shooting a 360° project. But not a lot of them can be considered professional. The most professional system at the moment is the Nokia OZO, the camera we are shooting Escape Velocity with. There are some professional camera rigs out there that are able to deliver very nice pictures, but the OZO manages to shoot stereoscopic video that, in my opinion, feels more life-like. Neuroscience tells us that immersion is a tool to create empathy and Virtual Reality is the most immersive medium ever. So, does it really make sense to experiment with a brand-new medium, to invest in it and make it part of our portfolio? Yes, it makes sense because the content of our project makes sense. That’s what drives us to create Escape Velocity.

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