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.

[twenty20 img1="1860" img2="1859" offset="0.5" hover="true"]

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.

[twenty20 img1="1862" img2="1781" offset="0.5" hover="true"]

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:

 

We are very fortunate to have Manor House Stables as a client & partner. The team trusts us and we are able to try innovative new ideas and concepts. So why not have Michael Owen (ex Professional Footballer) take you on a personal VR tour around his own stables set in the idyllic countryside of Cheshire, UK.

 360 virtual reality stables - horse - equine vr productions UK
Michael Owen - Owners Lounge at Manor House Stables Cheshire UK

We wanted to create an experience where users could see the extent of the stables, whilst also getting up close with a true behind the scenes experience without being there. Drones, Ninebots, a Carbon Pole and Gimbals were all primed and ready to go.

The Stables house over 100 thoroughbred flat race horses, from first light in the morning there is a bustle of activity with horses going out in groups for training under the watchful eye of Trainer Tom Dascombe and his team.

Manor House Stables  360 virtual reality - michael owen Cheshire horse racing uk
Tom Dascome - Mark Wynne - Michael Owen "M7 Lawn Logo MHS"

The 360 Video experience gives the end user a behind the scenes look of one of the UK’s leading Flat Racing Stables. Experience a virtual tour of the owners lounge with the Dubai Gold Cup, or watch as the horses swim as part of their training and exercise.

Above link to 360 Manor House Stables Tour - Click HD bottom right & then look around

Manor House Stables 360 Video tour - michael owen Cheshire horse racing uk
Tom Dascome MHS Trainer & Russel Jones - Ideal Recruitment "MHS Sponsor 2016"

This is a concept/test video at this stage, but clearly those who have seen and experienced it can see the full potential and benefits of this technology. Everything from Stadium Tours, Holiday Destinations, Leisure Parks, Areas of Beauty, Museums and Art can be captured and shared.

Manor House Stables  360 virtual reality - michael owen Cheshire horse racing uk
Manor House Stables Yard - 360 Little Planet Effect

M7aerial is a licensed CAA and insured drone operator based in the North Wales, UK. It provides aerial imaging, video and surveying.  M7Virtual is a leading 360 video capture and production company with global coverage.  We have experience of working within the Equine Industry ensuring safety to horses & staff at all times.

Leading up to the final round of the World Rally Championship we had an opportunity to work with Norwegian driver Eyvind Brynildsen as he and his team were testing prior to Wales Rally GB - A rally renowned by enthusiasts all over the world for the exciting stages and tough weather conditions. 2015 was no different.

On the day of the 360 shoot, the weather was relentless - 40+mph winds and rain that was falling horizontally meant we knew this would be a tough day.

360 Rally Shoot

Arriving at the temporary service park, we introduced ourselves to Eyvind's team, and gave them a taster of what they could expect using our Samsung Gear VR headset we had with us. The mechanics and team principals loved the concept, and were keen to work with us. None were more keen than Eyvind himself who, as a GoPro sponsored athlete, was keen to see how our 360 videos and drone footage could aid his growth on social media. The team were very easy to work with, and having seen the 360 camera rig they were happy to let us attach the camera inside the car.

360 Rally Shoot

We chose to use a suction cup mount, placing the rig on the roof of the car in between Brynildsen and Fredriksson which gave us the best viewpoint/ camera position. We spoke with them and the team to make sure the cameras weren't intruding in their space once they were in the car.

360 Rally Shoot

Setting the exposure on the cameras was far from easy, the light on the day was horrendous and we lacked the time to hook up an external monitor to the cameras to check exposure so used previous experience and knowledge of the cameras to gauge the optimum brightness.

360 Rally Shoot

Managing to squeeze in charging and data offload was a challenge, as we wanted to capture as much footage as possible, but knew we had to be reasonable, with the battery life of the cameras being degraded due to the cold. Check out the conditions in this short clip one of our team filmed:

Throughout the day we were able to capture 3 runs, giving us options in post to choose the best stage.

The footage was then stitched over the following couple of days and we were able to present it back to Eyvind and his team at the service park in Deeside during the event.

Check out the final video below:

 

360 Video for London Christmas Lights

Happy 360 Christmas from M7Virtual and we hope 2016 is the year of 360 VR!

It's that magical time of the year - Christmas and we couldn’t let it slip by without a sprinkle of 360 video magic ourselves.  As luck would have it we were down in London for an early morning 360 Shoot with Stink which meant our Sunday night in London was free for 360 Innovation.

Cue Oxford Street, Regents Street and Leicester Square Christmas light, our 360 camera rig, a heavy duty suction mount and one very nice London Cabbie.  The rest as they say is history.  Once we got the footage in to the edit suite we were all like excitable little children waiting for Santa ourselves. The footage looked amazing and stitched together so well.  Drop in some festive backing music and hey presto our Christmas 360 Greeting Card was born.

360 video

Its great seeing the first immediate reactions on people’s faces once they experience a 360VR video for the first time.  It is normally followed up by OMG….., how did you do that……, that’s unbelievable…. and so on.

We have been busy behind the scenes at M7Virtual for some months perfecting the capturing and post processing of 360 content.  With both Youtube and Facebook supporting 360 video the timing and ability to roll this out to clients on social media platforms is perfect.  Google Chrome is the preferred browser via the desktop, but both Facebook and Youtube should work on mobile devices if opened in native apps.  The Samsung GearVR headset is still for us the best immersive experience for 360 video.

M7Virtual are fast becoming the go to studio and an industry leader in 360 video.  We can now bring our 360 content to audiences using Facebook and Youtube.  M7Virtual are developing highly creative and engaging 360 content and this going to explode further via social media now supporting and promoting 360 content.

We wish everyone a great Christmas and really hope our 360 London Christmas Lights Video brought a smile to your face.

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