Filming 360 VR Video – Our Expert Tips
M7Virtual are leading the way producing and Filming 360 VR content for commercials, advertising and experiential experiences. Let us share with you some of the tips and tricks for basic 360 productions. We’ll offer these from a crew, client and post production perspective.
Tip #1 = Distance
Engage your audience, regardless of the subject/topic you must have your camera and subjects close to the viewer. We normally set a camera at 5ft 3’ (eye height) and generally between 800mm-1500mm away from the subject. We try and make it feel natural and not forced, helping evoke empathy, realism and intrigue. But its not all about positioning as a scene observer, its about the perspective and story you wish to explain. How you enter and exit the frame as a viewer.
Tip #2 – 360 or 220
Are we creating a full 360 experience or is it 220. In a headset audiences don’t like to spin around backwards in a shot or creak their necks vertically to view directly above themselves. So a lot of the time, we are concentrating on the 180-220 degree view as the primary focus for the audience. Using this principle for selecting your camera rigs, lens and lighting options in critical. At M7 we use several different 360 Camera setups which allow for unique stitching processes and filming techniques.
Tip #3 – Visual Flow
Creating an audience experience or flow, these are the techniques for transitions and continuity in your films. In many cases Filming 360 VR video is almost planning a 360 visual journey for your audience. Lets say its your first shot and the subject matter crosses from the right to left and turns the viewer 90 degrees to the left as they follow. Do we drop an identical movement for the second shot and then the audience is looking behind/backwards to where they started, or do we bring them back around to where they started with another subject movement. Its important to map out where the viewer will be looking and plan the shots so you create a journey.
Creating Flow is key to Filming 360 VR
The subject matter is key, again a technique we like to use is measuring the distance of the subject to the camera, then the next shot is the same aspect size for nice visual flow. If the subject matter moves measure the distance on where the exit frame will be and start the next one at that distance. Keeping this rule does help the viewers to follow and feel more engaged with your 360, as they are not searching from one scene to the next.
Tip #4 – Never underestimate the DIT
Data Wrangling or DIT (Digital Image Technician) is a critical role on any 360 shoot. Multiple camera footage needs to be organised, checked and backed-up. Find a table and clear that space. Mark it out it with tape, an In and Out zone, will be organised and keep this area clear. Tell everyone onset that nothing should go into this area as its the DIT Zone, and you won’t like an angry DIT (LOL). In all seriousness the DIT wrangles all the files into the appropriate takes, checks the footage for focus, exposure etc. Critical for when the Director, for example, asks to see hero camera on specific takes. Organising this footage with camera notes is also a must when it comes to post.
Number your SD cards with a permanent marker and use them in order, also a small closable card case is a must.
Tip #5 – Fix it in Post
To capture good 360 content you have to understand post (and I mean a good understanding, not just the grade and edit). All the M7 team are post production experts, so when we are on set we are correcting and looking at things very differently. Reflections, masking, seams and compositions are all discussed and looked at before we roll on cameras. This way when it does go to post there are no hidden nightmares or costs for your clients. Many of our shoots are on much faster turnarounds these days and spending time on set pays dividends to the project delivery.
You must have an understanding of the whole 360 process especially the post. The more you understand post the more creative the shots can be.
Tip #6 – Slider
The most under used and under estimated piece of kit for anyone Filming 360 VR , is the Slider. Combine a Syrup Genie and you’ve opened up a whole new world. Everyone loves a time-lapse, but in 360 VR they are on another level. Put movement into them with a little perspective shift and it is on the money for every shot. We typically use a 1.2m slider, with the genie and then have a 3ft mono pole to lift the rig, making it easier to comp out the slider base and tripod. It is perfect for 20 second shots to draw the audience to the subject, but equally good at a 2 hr time-lapse over 1 metre in 20 seconds.
Tip #7 – Process
Having your clients understand the workflow process when Filming 360 VR is key. Here is a diagram we follow on all our shoots, we give this to clients and creatives so they know exactly where the project is at all times. Communicating new workflows is essential to everyone involved in the project.
So there are 7 top tips from M7 for 360