Creating a 360° virtual reality (VR) video is a little like making magic. Just look at the joy and disbelief on people’s faces as they immerse themselves in whole new worlds. It’s glorious game-changing stuff that is winning over audiences left, right and centre.
Which is why everyone and their dog is getting in on the action and claiming to be some sort of high witch (or wizard) of 360° content. If only it were as easy as waving a wand, screeching something strange in Latin and transforming reality in a puff of smoke. As it happens, the process of delivering the extraordinary is actually a little more pragmatic.
If you want to get real results, you’ll need a solid video company that can give you: a dollop of hard work, a handful of clever video skills, loads of different gear, a bucket of experience and a splash of patience.
One thing’s for sure though, when it comes to making VR videos, practice makes perfect – and we’ve been perfecting our skills for some time now. We know how to create virtual reality video content and here are eight tips and tricks that we’ve learnt along the way:
1. Never ever position a person too close to the camera. Why? Because if you do, a stitch-line will slice right through them and turn a corporate video into a horror movie.
2. Choose a narrow camera rig. The wider the rig, the more work will have to be done in post-production to hide it from the video. Remember, everything is visible in 360° content – even the gear. Oh, but don’t make the rig too narrow, otherwise a gust of wind will blow it over. Yes, that really happened.
3. When filming with several GoPro cameras in one rig, make sure to do a sync clap on either side of each camera. Otherwise the cameras will be out by a few frames, even if they’re linked via a remote.
4. There are lenses in every direction on a 360° VR shoot (obviously, 360° and all…). Be careful not to get fingerprints everywhere too – so easy to do, so hard to clean off.
5. If you’re shooting in a busy location like London, try and get the crew to blend in with the crowd. If you can’t leave the camera for security reasons, stay very still underneath the rig while filming. Then, grab a shot of the floor/ground (known in the biz as a ‘plate’) and the editor will use it to mask you out.
6. Keep the camera as steady as possible at all times. Any sharp movements will make the audience feel queasy, especially if they’re viewing content in a VR headset. While making your customers vomit might go down as a memorable experience, it’s possibly not the positive brand association you were hoping for.
7. On that note, any moving shots need to be well planned in advance. They are very tough to do, and even tougher to do well. Make sure the floor throughout the shot is just one texture or colour. Any crazy patterns or funky designs will be hard (read: impossible) to ‘plate’ in post-production.
8. Here’s another fancy term: DIT – digital image technician. It can even be used as a verb: DIT’ing and basically means backing things up. Be careful when DIT’ing, especially if you are using several GoPros in one camera rig. If you forget to back up one camera’s footage, or do so incorrectly, then your cool VR video will have a rather obvious black hole in it. Oops.
If you really want to know how to create virtual reality video content like a pro then roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. And be sure to work with a video production team that has the technical aspects as well as the creative stuff covered. It might not be as simple as shouting “abracadabra!” but if you’ve got the right people on-side, “action!” can be just as effective.
If your brand is in need of some 360° VR magic, give our head of video, Jamie, a shout.