M7 Virtual’s 360 Video Experience For Milka
The team here at M7 Virtual were recently tasked with the creation of a point of view (POV) 360 video experience for chocolate manufacturers Milka with Stink Films London.
One of the challenges associated with 360 video is how to capture quality point of view (POV) footage without the usual issues such as tears, wobbles and shakes that often leave the viewer feeling disorientated. We conducted many tests at our studio into the ways in which we could create smooth, seamless POV footage, experimenting with a number of rig setups.
After much deliberation we came to the conclusion that a fixed camera rig positioned on top of the helmet would give us the best results. Our tests involved the rig being worn by people of varying heights, and it was decided that as short an operator as possible would be needed to capture the VR experience at a relatively normal eye height – Many of our early tests felt too high when we reviewed the footage in a VR headset. We also decided that the operator needed to be familiar with the smooth motions of such a task, so the production team set out to find a steadicam operator no taller than 1m 65cm, local to the area we would be filming.
Speaking of the location, the client Milka had chosen a location that was a beautiful representation of where its Alpine chocolate originates – a stunning valley located near the town of Kranjska Gora, Slovenia – famous for its winter sports facilities.
The shoot consisted of a rehearsal day, where the team had the opportunity to check that everything was in place, and a chance to review test footage. It was also a chance for Zu our operator to practice his movements, and for director Owen Trevor (ex-Top Gear) to iron out any creases.
The rehearsal day was also a chance to test out our playback equipment. We opted to use a single Go Pro positioned on the helmet which fed a Teradek unit with a wireless signal to the directors monitor hidden out of shot. Whilst this gave us some teething issues throughout the shoot it worked well as a live playback system, and the director was able to review takes instantly with the client live on set.
The weather was against us on the first shoot day, too wet for capturing any footage outside, but we were able to focus on capturing the interior shots.
Director of Photography Olivier Carou was in charge of lighting the scene and creating mood and atmosphere and did a wonderful job creating a stunning environment for which viewers find themselves. A smoke machine was used to create a small amount of haze within the room, giving the scene a more natural feel when combined with the fire place. Intricate details such as the cuckoo clocks, tools on the work bench and lamps also helped provide interest throughout the space.
The POV shot was captured within a handful of takes, and we also captured an alternative 2 shots with the camera fixed on a tripod as both a safety and possible cutaway shot. These tripod shots turned out to be very effective and work great in conjunction with the POV footage, so much so that the client decided that these should be included in the edit, with the POV shots actually becoming the cutaway shots.
The mirror sequence required a plate shot from a single Go Pro to be captured, positioned on the mirror and pointing back at the talent, and then this would later be composited in post production. We had our talent walk the same movements as our camera operator did, repeated over a number of takes and this way we were able to seamlessly cut between the two in post production.
The drone shot was captured early in the morning of the second shoot day, with the operator capturing footage from a number of heights to give choices to the editors in the post production stage. The slow smooth movements and stable footage mean that the viewer does not feel the effects of motion sickness unlike other, lesser quality drone shots.
The exterior POV shots required a larger number of takes before the team were 100% happy. As with all the shots, even the slightest details here had to be right. Again, we captured static shots from a number of positions and these worked great again, adding context to the film and giving the viewer a chance to take in the surroundings.