M7 Virtual were contacted by Liverpool based events specialists Meet & Potato to produce a 360 video experience for Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles. The brief was to create an experience which mirrored the television commercial.  Produced a few months earlier and in keeping with the Mercedes-Benz campaign entitled 'Keeping You Moving'.

A custom-build 16m double-expanding articulated trailer was designed to house a combination of exciting immersive tech experiences. This stunning mobile venue invites visitors to explore Mercedes-Benz Van’s vision for the future of mobility in three multi-sensory zones.

 

Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles

During the pre-production phase, we worked closely with the team at M&P to create storyboards for the film. We adapted the Mercedes-Benz television commercial to make the film more suitable to 360 VR. We carried out some tests before the main shoot to experiment with transitions in order to keep the film flowing throughout. The installation was to include VR motion simulator seats, which would be coded to match the movements within the video footage. For this reason we wanted to keep the camera moving throughout the video to utilise this technology.

Meet & Potato

Jon Kelly, Founder and MD at Meet & Potato said:

“We’re delighted and excited to bring the Mercedes-Benz Vans UK brand story to life with a such an innovative immersive event. The roadshow trailer is set to welcome thousands of guests as it tours the UK and we can’t wait to see their reaction.”

Shooting took place over six days with the VR crew. We filmed at a number of pre determined locations across the North West and North Wales. Our first scene to shoot was the broken mirror featuring the Mercedes-Benz Citan Van. We used the Moza Guru Air gimbal combined with the Kandao Obsidian R to film this shot. We used a hover board to help move the camera in a smooth and stable manner. Whilst also holding the gimbal. Following this shot we filmed a number of extra shots using our Syrp Genie slider system, which allowed us to program the camera to move along at a set speed. This gave us silky smooth shots and allowed the crew to clear the scene, reducing post production work needed.

Day two saw us shooting the X-Class holiday scenes. We first shot the driveway shots of the family leaving the house, then travelled to Black Rock Sands Beach to capture the closing shots of the film. The Kandao proved to be a great camera for the X-Class interior shots.

Mercedes-Benz X Class

 

Day 3 of filming was short due to bad weather, we were able to capture the X-Class driving around the Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales. To capture this unique chase cam perspective we mounted the camera to a body harness and used an e-bike to follow the truck along the road. We then removed the camera operator and bicycle using Mocha VR. The team stabilised the shot using Syntheyes. The images below show the removal of the bicycle and rider, comparing the original rough stitch with the final colour graded neat stitch.

Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales

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The remaining shoot days involved the capture of the X-Class construction site scene, as well as the Vito van scenes.

After finishing post production of the film we delivered a h.265 file for Draw and Code to work their magic in programming the movements of the simulator chair. We then visited the installation prior to it's official unveiling to see a glimpse of the technology on offer. The simulator chair certainly added to the level of immersion we experienced, whilst still being subtle enough to cater for a wide audience.

The team at M7 Virtual were very excited to be commissioned to produce a 360 video experience for the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Cricket World Cup (CWC). We were also pleased to be working alongside the team at Red Sky at Night Events. The brief was to create an immersive dome experience to be displayed at the various stadiums hosting the CWC this year across the U.K.

ICC and CWC wanted viewers of the experience to feel what it would be like to 'face the pace' of a world class bowler. During the pre-production phase we brainstormed various different ways that this could be achieved. We quickly ruled out the option of filming as a live action piece as it was not be feasible to fill a stadium with fans for a fictional match. So we discussed the possibility of filming the players against an empty stadium! We would then revisit the same positions on a match day to capture crowd plates. The two images would then be composited together to create the illusion of a match day experience. After carrying out tests, we determined this would be the most suitable method to produce this experience.

Edgbaston, Birmingham

Our first day of filming took place at Edgbaston, capturing the player actions in the empty stadia. We worked with a team of young players from local county clubs. The players were briefed about each of the set plays we wanted them to re-enact. Each player was numbered and was to remember their specific field position in order to ensure continuity between the shots. The scenes were acted out without a ball which meant that players had to work together to create the illusion of a real match scenario. We chose to do this to ensure the camera was not damaged by a stray delivery or throw. It would also allow us greater control over the trajectory in post production. The players all revelled in the challenge and acted their movements with remarkable accuracy, matching the timings and energy of a match situation.

After capturing each of the shots, we meticulously measured each of the camera positions. By noting their exact location on the field we would then be able to revisit the stadium and capture the scene again with a full crowd. Additionally, we placed small tape markers to assist us in locating the positions. This ensured a reliable point of reference without interfering with the pitch surface.

Twenty20 Finals Day

To capture the crowd plates, we revisited Edgbaston during the Twenty20 finals day. Working with the ground staff and members of the CWC team, we gained access to the pitch during the tea breaks and intervals. We recorded at each of the positions for two minutes, capturing both video and raw stills to assist with the compositing of the shots. We captured each of the positions several times during the day to give us a variety of lighting options in post production. This also allowed us to fill in gaps in the crowd if necessary by combining the multiple shots.

Once we had filmed the players against the empty stadium, we then had the task of rotoscoping the players and umpires. This involved masking around each of the 14 bodies on the field and tracking their movements across thousands of frames for each shot. This was undoubtedly the most intensive part of the project and took many weeks of work to finish. Once this step was complete, we could then composite the rotoscoped players onto the full crowd stadium plate. At this point we could really begin to see the shots take shape.

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Cricket World Cup, 2019

We then composited a ball in post, again giving the illusion of a real game. This allowed us to really fine tune the ball position and use speed ramping to create slow mo shots during the POV sequences. Another element to be added in post production was the stadium hoarding which was scaled and positioned in Photoshop before being composited in After Effects.

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The graphic below shows some of the steps undertaken to create the appeal shot:

Lords Cricket Ground

We began to add other narrative elements such as the changing room and balcony scenes. We then visited Lords Cricket Ground to record a voiceover session with legendary cricket broadcaster Jonathan Agnew. Aggers was very enthusiastic about the project and did a brilliant job of bringing his signature touch to the soundtrack.

ICC and CWC were keen to draft in a famous cricketing personality who could a whitty twist. A number of names were suggested, with CWC ambassador Graeme Swann being the top pick . Graeme really was a pleasure to work with, bringing laughs throughout the shoot and telling many a tale. What a character.

360 VR

We spent a day filming with Graeme in the infinity cove at Galleon Studios. Located on the outskirts of Manchester, Galleon's Kris and Les made us feel very welcome. The facilities fitted our needs perfectly. We shot this scene with the Sony A7 III and Samyang 8mm. This to give us great image quality and versatility in post production.

This experience is a world first, putting the viewer in the shoes of a player mid game. Truly immersing them in a high pressure match situation. We see huge potential for this style of 360 VR for a wider range of events. This style of experience allows viewers to be transported to places they would never have access to otherwise. Rugby matches, football matches, tennis and many more sports can all be captured using this method. Furthermore, past events can be recreated such as famous music concerts. So the viewer can be transported back in time in a fully immersive experience. We are very keen to develop this style of filming further, stay tuned for more coming soon.

To see a more in-depth breakdown of the production of this film, take a look at this video below:

 

A few weeks back we had a call that came into the office which would certainly put our 360 video camera equipment to the test! Cleopatra Browne of Celtic Quest Coasteering rang, saying: “Can you guys film someone jumping from a cliff into the sea below with a 360 camera…!!”  Well, not to turn down any challenge, we quickly established the need for drone shots, locked tripod shots from edges of cliffs, 3rd person POV, and helmet cams.

Everything was agreed and we headed down to the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire in South Wales. We could not have asked for a better day - low winds, blue skies and a nice swell rolling in from the Irish Sea. The location was breathtaking! As we drove down to the beach, we knew this was going to be a special 360 video project.

izugar 360 degree video lens

Quick look around, risk assessment, safety checks and we were away. Everything we could have tried on this 360 shoot we got the chance to put into practice. We nailed the tripod shots first, ensuring they were secure as we were not particularly willing to loose the 360 rig down a cliff face. Cleopatra and her team were amazing, they were so pumped for this as you could sense this was going to be a great way to get their experience out there. The drones shots provided us with the ability to put the camera anywhere we wanted to capture the action.

Drone aerial 360 video footage provides users with a different sensation and perspective, akin to being a seagull watching these coasteering experts have all the fun below.

We flew a 4 rig GoPro (adapted Izugar Lens) on our DJI Inspire Pro Drone, which we have adapted the base plate with carbon mounts and carbon poles to stabilise all the aerial 360 video footage.  We have also balanced the rig to ensure safe flight and optimum flight characteristics. Being fully qualified Civil Aviation Authority drone pilots and having the permissions in place ensures M7Virtual remains a leader in the field of 360 aerial video footage.

360 degree video landscape

Next was the fun bit - strap 6 GoPro 360 camera to a helmet and watch someone jump 30 metres into the sea! All we will say is that we owe our rig to plastic ties, the impact on the third jump caused a bolt to sheer and the safety backup ties saved the day.

360 waterproof helmet cam rig for 360 degree video capture wales

We have learnt so much from this shoot, and shooting first person experience action activities can be a little tricky with head rotations etc in 360. The results, we think have come out great and with already 20k views on the 360 video across all platforms it would appear we were right.

Cleo and her team made the day and if you haven't had the chance, then please check out the Coasteering website - its an excellent adventure in Wales for everyone.  It was great that our two Welsh-based businesses have been able to collaborate on this work.  We’ll be going back ourselves to do it for real next time.

Straight back after the Christmas & New Year festivities saw ourselves in central London at some of the cities finest high end luxury venues. Our job was to capture 360 degree video footage at three venues which had recently opened in  late 2015.

  1. Hilton Bankside Hotel
  2. M Restaurant & Wine Bar, Victoria Street
  3. German Gymnasium Grand Cafe

The biggest benefit of any 360 video experience is the ability to put the audience or customer into that actual environment as if they were teleported there. Its a phenomenal tool, allowing people to experience venues or locations they might not yet have had the chance to see or explore. They are put inside a 360 virtual environment and can freely look around as they wish. Our clients want just that, and with with ease of viewing on Facebook or Youtube makes 360  virtual reality more accessible to everyone. We are also finding that the 360 videos are helping with Web Search Ranking and Placement.

360 Video London Hotel Restaurant Bar. VR 360 Experience UK m7 virtual
M Restaurant London - 360 Video Camera Setup - Venue VR -M7virtual

A number of holiday tour operators, car manufacturers and venues are now exploiting the potential of 360 video as the leading way to engage with customers. Our remit came via Soluis who have designed and created a Dome Experience, which is ideal for trade shows and larger events where it might not be practical to have a number of headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR available. A 360 Dome is a great tool to engage with larger number of people to share the 360 video experience at once.

Working with the team from Fresh Montgomery we were fortunate to gain access to these venues for our 360 camera capture. You can imagine the slight apprehension from the venue management bringing new 360 VR technology into busy areas with customers present. However we advised them of the minimal disruption and were able to show them previous 360 experiences in our VR headset. Like on many occasions the headset soon got passed around staff and customers alike. All the feedback consisted of gasps of amazement and “how do you do that?”. Giving all the venue management teams the confidence of how this will work for them.

360 Video London Hotel Restaurant Bar. VR 360 Experience UK m7 virtual
German Gymnasium Grand Cafe - 360 Video Capture - London 360VR - M7Virtual

The 360 video captured at the Hilton Bankside Hotel allows people to experience and sample the atmosphere of the lobby, bars, restaurants, pool, conference facilities and bedrooms. The ability to explore a hotel via a 360 video is huge, voiceover or guides can also be added to the experience if needed. The German Gymnasium Cafe and M Restaurant have chefs preparing food, bar staff making cocktails and waiting on staff preparing tables. We can teleport you into any area and allow you to truly experience the venue as if you were there.

The footage is also ideal for interior & design teams of these amazing venues, as they too can share their portfolio in a way like no other. The ability to deliver 360 content and immerse customers into an environment is a great way of capturing and holding their attention. We are going to see an explosion of 360 portfolios across all industries. Already the design teams are talking about other projects in other cities and countries around the world. This is a unique way of engaging and holding customers attention.

360 Video London Hotel Restaurant Bar. VR 360 Experience UK m7 virtual
Hilton Bankside Hotel, London - 360 Degree Camera ready for immersive 360 Video - M7Virtual

The footage will be uploaded very soon to our 360 Channel.

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