Becoming a VR Master: Recording

The art of recording in 360, and using that footage to create your own Virtual Reality experience is a practice that any private, professional, or interested videographer is capable of. Period. Seizing the opportunity now to learn this straightforward process will expose you to this burgeoning community, give you familiarity with this new creative format that isn’t going away, and add another tool to your arsenal as a videographer. Don’t be the last videographer to jump on the VR bandwagon! If you are not offering your clients a VR video option, you are missing out on adding an attractive VR venture to your already established list of projects. Though thorough information on this practice is admittedly scarce, Foundry 45 can guide you to be a VR master.

Step 1: Get a camera and some footage!
The market for 360 cameras is a microcosm of the entire industry as you can find a range of high end cameras to rigs optimized for more practical means for most videographers. Foundry 45 has published an in-depth blog post which compares all of our rigs to one another in terms of capability, usability, performance, and cost. Obviously, broad recommendations don’t apply to every person who lays eyes on this post, but among our collection of cameras, we recommend the Kodak 360 PixPro for seasoned videographers who are getting their VR feet wet. At $900, these two cameras are capable of professional production without the technical headache induced by some more complicated rigs. Please feel free to comment with your specific circumstances if you would like a more in-depth recommendation!
hitchcock finalAfter getting a camera, knowing the difference between recording in 2D and 360 will definitely benefit you when it comes time to shoot. 360 shooting revolves much less around how one records, and more on where one records. In 360 videos, the filmmaker’s control over the viewer’s focus is significantly lessened as a result of the user’s ability to look around. This evolution in format takes away the filmmaker’s ability to isolate one key area in an environment, and, as a result, forces the filmmaker to a.) cleverly direct the user’s focus to the key area, b.) choose an environment that has multiple points of interest or c.) put the camera as close as possible to the key area (without getting too close to record!). Put your viewers in the middle of the action, and let them enjoy it in their own way! Also make sure to hide or camouflage yourself from the camera while recording. Seeing yourself in VR becomes way less cool when your realize you just ruined the immersion by being visible.

Scout GO Pro HidingThis video is going to be sweet.

As a side note that could probably go without saying: you still have to capture engaging moments. Yes, new VR technology is fascinating and has the ability to communicate so much more about a space than a 2D video; however, if you are transporting your viewer to boring place, they will absolutely lose interest. Just like shooting with regular cameras, you need to have your 360 camera ready to capture any and all special moments during production. For 360, you will be using the same creative muscle you use while shooting a 2D video, just flexing it in a different way.

stich lines 1

Stitch lines 2Understanding the impact that parallax will have on your footage is also pivotal to creating a solid VR experience. If you are using a 360 rig that involves more than one camera, you will become quite familiar with what are called “stitch lines.” More on this subject will be covered in the next section, but how well a filmmaker deals with these stitch lines can make or break the quality of an experience. The specific formation of stitch lines differs for every camera so becoming accustomed to your own camera’s arrangement is imperative if you want to avoid slicing a line through the most important person or thing in your scene. Though they can be maddening at points, stitch lines can usually be smoothed until they are invisible as long as all objects are at least 5 feet away from the camera. Due to parallax, any object too close to the camera will be sliced up irreparably. SO BACK UP! Above are some examples of stitch lines we’ve run into in our experience. Hopefully this first of five parts has helped you wrap your head around the process of recording in 360! Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with the rest of our posts. Also feel free to contact Foundry 45 for any questions or inquiries based on our deep Virtual Reality expertise.