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Video Processing Perspectives

A 360-Degree Holiday Video in the Making

A 360-Degree Holiday Video in the Making

An interview with Gil McIntire, Videographer

Gil has been making video professionally since 2008. In this interview, we discuss with him the creation of Elemental’s 2016 holiday video in 360-degree virtual reality and the fun and challenge in planning, filming and producing in this new medium with a cutting-edge Nokia OZO camera.

What does it take to plan, shoot, act and produce a 360-degree video?

Gil McIntire: In this medium, the sense of storytelling has changed. Directors and writers have traditionally had a very controlled means to explain a narrative to the audience with selective cuts while editing, manipulating image insertion, and by using focus. With 360-degree video, most clips are filmed in one take and the audience has control of the viewing experience from all angles. Creatives now have to work overtime to be doubly sure the experience is just as moving to the viewer despite this power shift. 

Because 360-degree video offers no place to hide, the videographer has to think: Where is the best place for me to be while I film? In this video, I chose to jump out from behind a curtain to blow the starting horn. That way I could keep an eye on the Nokia OZO in case anyone came too close. A co-worker watched the monitor to ensure we were recording without error. As the director, not standing next to the camera was unnerving.

How is creating video with a Nokia OZO different than working with a traditional camera? 

GM: Capturing with the Nokia OZO is notably different because there are no camera settings on the rig to check except for the physical power switch, a record button and a signal for WiFi strength. Instead, the Nokia software monitor offers a great deal of information in an aesthetically pleasing and coherent way.

Any other considerations? 

GM: Because there are eight lenses on the Nokia OZO, the camera has a few blind spots that the Nokia software has to ‘stitch’ together. I had to make sure that there wasn’t anything distracting on scene that stretched from one camera view to the next – it was difficult to mark that on set without having the camera capture the marking tape – which you can see in the final video.

How do you keep the Nokia OZO safe, especially with 25-plus people on set? 

GM: When filming with the Nokia OZO, you have to trust the tripod or monopod, and even more importantly, the actors who work all around the camera. One misstep and they could knock the camera over!

What camera features are especially fun to use? Especially challenging to use? 

GM: The fun – this is a whole new way to make and experience videos. The challenge – the recommended focal length for each of the eight cameras required that I shoot between eight and fifteen feet away for best results, and this meant coming up with an idea that performed well within these constraints.

Any tips or tricks for those interested in creating VR video? 

GM: As with any camera, go out with your new toy and use it as much as possible. And invest in a good, self-standing monopod. There are no set workflows yet, so get creative and have fun!

Finally, a pro tip: This video is best experienced using VR gear. Regardless, if you travel to the north and south poles during the action, you’ll find Easter Eggs from the Elemental 2014 and 2015 holiday videos in this most recent installment of our season greetings series.