Siemens: Future Makers 360 VR Shoot - China

The second instalment for the Siemens Future Makers project saw the M7 team travel to Chengdu, China for another immersive 360 VR shoot working with agency R/GA and RSA Films.

The VR shoot saw us spending 10 days in the city, which would encompass a wide variety of Chinese culture. This  included nature parks, traditional wok houses, tai-chi sessions and night markets. We also visited the Siemens digital factory. This formed the main storyline of the film along with our talent - Zheng Shao Qu, a Siemens employee working at the factory.

After an initial rest day to refresh our body clocks, we spent a further 2 days viewing locations. This allowed us to determine potential shots and think about which 360 camera rigs would work best for each shot.

We began the 360 VR shoot in the evening of the second day, capturing the Chengdu skyline during the dusk to night transition in 360 VR timelapse. This gave us a head start on the shoot and meant that we had already ticked off a shot going into the first day's shooting.

The first shoot day saw us filming Shao Qu and his friends playing Mahjong, a traditional Chinese board game in one of Chengdu's people's parks. We filmed this shot on our Z-Cam E1 Z4XL rig which gave us great colour and plenty of overlap from the Izugar MKX-22 fisheye lenses. We used our Samsung Gear 360 camera mounted above the rig to act as a quick and simple live preview for our director Juriaan who hid out of shot close by.

From here we went to a bustling market street to set up for an evening shot of Shao Qu and his friends walking through the city looking for a place to eat. The bright colours of the Chinese lanterns and various LED signs in and around the buildings lit up the street. Being a dusk shot, we again opted for our Z-Cam rig for its low light potential given its large Micro Four-Thirds sensor.

The changing lighting conditions during dusk meant that we chose to set a given shutter speed and allow the camera to determine the optimum ISO. Setting the exposure compensation individually for each camera meant that we could balance out the exposures between the different cameras. The fisheye lenses became very useful again for the fast aperture and extensive overlap, as there was a lot of movement crossing between seams. Using the Samsung Gear 360 again we were able to provide Juriaan our director with a live preview of the scene.

The next day we moved location to the Siemens Digital Factory. Here we captured Shao Qu working in the factory with his colleagues. We had a large number of shots to film here, all within a limited time. This meant we had to split the team into 2 camera units. However this allowed us to be more efficient with our available time. We used our custom built 360 gimbal to follow our talent as he walked through the factory. This allowed us to introduce a moving shot which worked very well in that particular environment.

Our final scene of the film features Zheng Shao Qu and his colleagues enjoying a traditional Chinese banquet. This shot presented a number of technical challenges. We determined that the camera was to be positioned right in the action on the table, this then posed stitching issues due to the close proximity of the food on the table. For this reason we chose to use our GoPro rig with Izugar lenses to give us the least parallax possible for a 360 rig.

The finished film is available for download as part of the Siemens Future Makers app on the Apple App Store and Android Play Store, and can also be viewed on the Siemens website.

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