For filmmakers and still photographers who are accustomed to
framing a scene through a single rectangle, thinking spherically
requires a mind shift. But if you’re shooting with a dual-lens
camera like the KeyMission 360, having compelling imagery in
front of both lenses—not just in a single frame—is critical, says
filmmaker Corey Rich. “We learned that complex situations
are more engaging” in VR, he says. “If there’s action in only
one lens, and nothing in the other, that’s a lackluster VR
shot. There’s not enough for the audience to look at.”
Another challenge presents itself during the edit.
Many VR cameras record a spherical image that will
appear as one, long flat image on your monitor.
During the edit, this flattened footage isn’t always
indicative of what the final experience will
be once a viewer’s got the VR goggles on.
Changes such as compositing that work on a
flattened file may not necessarily translate
when the footage is viewed spherically,
Rich cautions. And it works the other
way around: “Footage that looks a
bit lackluster when viewed flat has
looked much better in VR,” he says.
THE MOUNT MATTERS
One of the real challenges in
shooting VR is deciding where
and how to mount the camera.
Filmmakers need to decide whether
they want the mount to appear in
the video; when using boom poles
and monopods, for instance, the
camera may capture at least part of
the pole in the frame.
Depending on the camera
you’re using, you could hide your
monopod in a seam created by
two overlapping images. It takes
some experimentation to find out
just where that sweet spot lies,
because it varies depending on the
pole you’re using and the angle
at which it’s extended from the
tripod socket of the camera. Rich
adds that using mounting poles
that are color-matched to the
background also help disguise
any portion that’s visible.
SHOOT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
Introducing artificial light into a 360-degree
shoot can be a challenge—on camera it will
look like a garish hot spot. You can theoretically
position lights in the camera’s seams, but they may
be impractical. That leaves you at the mercy of natural
and ambient light. Given the relatively small sensor
sizes of most VR cameras, abundant daylight is going to be
your ideal setting. On the flip side, still photographers almost
always use artificial light during the reception if not elsewhere,
so incorporating it in your VR film (besides being potentially
inescapable) could add to the occasion’s realism.
FORGET GOPRO RIGS
Do you have endless amounts
of time, patience and GPU power?
Of course not. VR rigs that combine
multiple GoPros were an early favorite
among filmmakers producing higher-quality VR fare, but they’re extremely labor-intensive and prone to failure. Stitching
multiple GoPro videos together can take days
of post-production, and GoPros can overheat in
those rigs and fail. If you’re just getting started in
VR, make it easy for yourself: Spring for a camera
like a Ricoh Theta or Nikon KeyMission 360 that can
capture and stitch video for you automatically, leaving
you with a spherical H.264 file that you can manipulate
and color-grade in many non-linear editors.
JUST SAY NO…TO QUICK CUTS,
PANNING OR TILTING
It was during his early post-production edits that Rich learned
another valuable VR lesson: Traditional pacing rules don’t
apply. “In a conventional video edit, for, say, a commercial,
we might do a one- or two-second cut,” he says, but that
pace is far too quick for VR. “The viewer needs enough
time to explore the frame. During the editing and post-production, it’s vital to structure the edit in such a way
as to maximize a viewer’s time in a scene.” That means
giving the viewer between 7 and 10 seconds to linger
and explore a scene before cutting to the next one.
It also means you should avoid pans and tilts, which
can be disorienting (remember, the viewer can look
up and down in the VR viewer already—they don’t
need the camera to guide them around).