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VRability : What we’ve learned about editing in VR360

Is editing possible in virtual reality? What principles and methods can be used to ensure that the audience’s perception of virtual reality is not destroyed? We have decided to share our experiences on this subject by using our VRability project as an example.

NB. This material was prepared by Georgy Molodtsov, co-author and creative director of the VRability project, which is implemented together with the Eyera Team as a non-profit social project. This material may only be used by special permission from the author.

Rapid development of 360 degree spherical video filming technology has become a topic of interest to both technical and creative specialists. This is the most outstanding thing to have happened in cinema technology and cinematic language since the appearance of light cameras, which in turn spawned the “New Wave” of cinema — long-term observational cinema and the modern “live camera” video style. We decided to dive into this world of new formats and technologies. Our primary goal wasn’t as much about creating a profitable project, as it was about understanding this brave new world. The VRability project was created with two main goals in mind: — to use the most advanced technology available to reach important social goals — to research and develop new forms of cinematic languageHaving combined our extensive creative and technical knowledge, we began researching the possibilities offered by spherical video, using all of our free time to expand the horizons of this new direction and its amazing potential.

Virtual reality video demands courage, experience, and patience. Of course, it also requires funding, but we have luckily encountered charitable support from people and companies who help us for free or offer significant discounts to help us reach our important social goals. Among them are: GoPro (Yuma),FIBRUM, Kolor, “Katarzyna”, Tennis park, Sokolniki Ice Palace, Dmitry Agutin (producer and co-director of the documentary film about our project), developed Denis Ivanov, and the protagonist of our first film Maxim Kiselev, as well as his family and tennis and ice-dancing partners.

The idea of showing the potential of wheelchair-bound people was not accidental — Georgy had worked as a film director with “Perspectiva” — an organization for people with disabilities. He had created social advertising campaigns and films about people with disabilities. Stanislav understood the problem of limited mobility first-hand — after an accident, he lost his mobility for over six months, and VR was one of the methods used to stimulate his brain activity and help him regain nerve sensitivity in his body. The most widely used concept of watching VR (sitting in a rotating chair) takes the viewer one step closer to the experience of someone in a wheelchair.

Here is an introductory video about the project:

Many technical solutions were found during the project’s initial stages: vests, body-mounts, cable-wires, special fixtures, helmet-mounted cameras with subsequent re-editing to show the helmet in the shot. It’s important to understand that editing is not simply the putting together of already filmed materials, it’s the careful planning of shots and their interrelationship, rhythm and balance before filming even begins.

What we typically see online in VR360 is mostly one-shot static scenes. Their style and stage of development is reminiscent of the first experiments in film — “The Arrival of a Train” and “Workers Exiting the Lumiere Factory”. It’s static. It’s a wide shot.

Internet and conference discussions always claim that there is no editing in VR, there’s no such thing as a “shot”, there can be no storyboard. That we mustn’t restrain a person’s right to choose where to look. But, again, if we were to look at VR in the overall cinema history context, David Griffith’s methods of including editing in wide shots were also seen as impossibly revolutionary.

We have proven that there is editing in VR360.

But instead of “shot” we say “orientation”.

Instead of storyboard — composition and location of objects in relation to frontal orientation.

Close-up, wide shot — all of these can be used in relation to the location of the main object and his relation to the current orientation (shot/camera)

We’d like to discuss the major “discoveries” that we feel are important for our future work in VR.

read more…

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