Over the years, Virtual Reality (VR) has proved itself to have many uses, from changing the face of marketing to improving gaming technology.

However, while commercial 360 video production presents an exciting new element in the world of media, VR has been shown to have more meaningful and important functions as well.

Indeed, some experts believe VR could end up becoming pioneering technology in medical treatments, being able to attain results current equipment is unable to achieve.

According to David Putrino, assistant professor at the Ichan School of Mount Sinai and head of Mount Sinai’s Abilities Research Center in the US, VR technology has huge potential in the health sector.

In a speech at GDC recently, Dr Putrino suggested VR could help patients with pain relief as medications are unable to relieve chronic pain in many cases. In fact, according to an article in Variety.com, less than 30 per cent of patients with neuropathic pain experience relief from drugs.

“We have this whole network of neuros that are affectionately called ‘mirror neurons’… that will fire and get excited whether you’re performing a task, or just watching someone perform a task,” Dr Putrino told the audience.

He noted that imagination, therefore, has a big role to play in triggering the neurons. As VR is all about providing the user with the illusion of a new reality, this could convince the neurons to act, despite the experience being, in fact, fake.

According to the article, Dr Putrino claimed a 40 per cent reduction in pain for those patients who underwent ten minutes of VR activity.

His theory stems from neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran’s proposal regarding phantom limb syndrome, whereby a person with an amputated foot or hand can still feel pain in a limb that no longer exists. He asserted that by putting healthy limb in a box with a mirror, the reflection could give patients the illusion of having two intact body parts, and therefore, relieve their pains.

Dr Putrino believes the same can be achieved by using VR, by tricking patients into believing their body is healthy and strong.

This is not the first medical treatment proposal that has involved VR, and many health professionals are seeing the technology as a viable way of treating their patients’ conditions.

For instance, the Best Virtual Reality Prize at the Reality Virtually Hackathon was awarded to a team called Move2Improve.

The event, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab between January 17th and 21st this year, gave the winning group the opportunity to compete for $30,000 (£22,845).

Scientists behind Move2Improve created the product, which is a physical therapy game to encourage patients with upper limb injuries to improve their outcomes, within just five days, The University of Delaware revealed.

It works by the patient wearing a VR headset and completing drawings with the hand that has been affected by the injury. These drawings then come to life within the VR world, motivating the patient to accomplish even more challenging drawings as the game progresses.

It is thought that by being able to engage and interact with the game, physical therapy patients can avoid feeling bored with their exercises and improve their prognosis.

However VR technology is utilised, it is clear that its uses are going to be more far-reaching than we could have ever imagined.

We are fortunate to be travelling all over world capturing 360 VR experiences. Another amazing adventure was to take us to Turkey. The project was shooting a full Paragliding VR Experience, which in turn is used within a state of the art virtual reality pod. The shoot lasted for 3 days. giving us time to recce the location and confirm the storyboards to capture a great experience.  We always insist on a recce days as they are critical to plan and deliver the best possible VR content. 

Turkey, Paragliding, Sunrise, Depature, VR Experience
The plane ready for departure to Turkey, ready to create this VR Experience

Working alongside Immotion Group and their country contacts, bringing this VR Experience together was as joyful as possible. Our in country contacts were very welcoming and took it upon themselves to assist us on the shoot. Acting as tour guides, runners, and translators all in one. 

Adventures captured in Virtual Reality

On the first shoot day, M7 were shown around all of the Turkish mountains at Fethiye so that we got feel for what views the Paraglider will be capturing when the camera is rigged on them. We also wanted to check the  the paraglider landing and taking off, ensuring the movement would work in the VR simulation.  Its important when shooting any VR content that the movement is not erratic or unstable.  

Mountains, Recce, Paragliding, Lake, VR Experience
The mountain views on the Recce day before creating the VR Experience

Although our goal is to capture a Point of View (POV) experience, we need to present a narrative visual story to the viewer. With this in mind we worked with the paraglider expert to ensure we captured the build up to flight rather than just POV views.

Mountain Summit in Turkey
Mountain Summit in Turkey

Rigging for our VR Experience

To create this VR Experience we were using various rigging techniques. We therefore elected to use  Kandao Obsidian R 360 camera, offering 8K and a small form ideal for the helmet mounts. Rigging this camera was critical because of being 400oft in the sky, safety to anyone below was paramount.  M7Virtual are experts in rigging 360 VR cameras and safety measures were put in place including several fail safes.

Preparation for Take Off Preparation for Take Off

Soar along the Turkish Coastline in our VR Experience

This spot in Turkey is renowned for being one of the most beautiful paragliding spots on the planet. The weather on this day was also perfect, sunny, no winds and just a few clouds. Whilst at the top of the mountain we could also see how busy it became with para glider setups.  Each para glider is allocated a time slot for take off, almost like full air traffic control. Using our stabilisation gimbal and Kandao camera we captured the complexity of the setup for the narrative of the story.

As on every shoot we went armed with different cameras to ensure backup plans. We therefore opted for a Gopro Fusion, again its small form but with 5.2k output. Each jump was 30-40 minutes with us racing back to bottom to meet with him. This again was critical to ensure cameras were stopped correctly and footage could be immediately checked before the next run. Additional backup runs were captures and we managed to capture some stunning sunset flights.

Turkey, Paragliders, Takeoff, VR Experience
The view from the top of the paragliding take off point
Paragliding at Sunset in TurkeyParagliding at Sunset in Turkey

Experts in VR Productions

M7virtual particularly pride themselves in our post production work, this is made easy with correct capture.  As a result we briefed our pilot on ever jump after reviewing previous footage.  We even justifying the use of the neck brace, much to the disapproval of our pilot! Therefore minimising the movement of the camera on the pilots head was critical.  

Finally we have been able to stitch together a great 4:30 minute VR experience resulting in a 4D immersive ride with Immotion Group.

If you would like to find out more about commercial 360 video production, get in touch with us today!

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