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:

 

Wondering how you could benefit from commercial 360 VR and how your company could take full advantage of this particular technological innovation? Well, have a look at the British Army for a bit of inspiration in this regard, which has just started trialling the use of virtual reality (VR) to enhance its training exercises in the future.

Part of the Defence Innovation Initiative, the pilot will test out numerous applications, including the use of VR headsets to improve environmental immersion, mixed reality to allow soldiers to see and interact with tangible objects and avatar customisation that replicates realistic facial features and body shapes so that users can recognise their fellow soldiers.

It will allow soldiers to train in a range of different complex and hostile scenarios that aren’t easy to recreate on a training ground. It will also place troops in the middle of urban firefights, in buildings filled with enemy soldiers or intense crowd control situations.

The use of VR means that training situations can be set up quickly, rerun and analysed so that the most effective approaches to real-life situations on the battlefield can be demonstrated.

“The army has a reputation for world class training which prepares our people for demanding and complex operations. Our training continually develops and so we constantly look for the best technology to make it as effective as possible.

“Innovations such as VR offer immersive and flexible training, and this pilot is pushing the boundaries to explore how we might make best use of it,” Brigadier Bobby Walton-Knight, army head of training capability, commented.

There will also be after-action review enhancement applications being tested, providing data capture and analysis to help soldiers better understand their own performances.

A recent report from the International Data Corporation, the Worldwise Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide, has predicted that spending in these areas will reach $20.8 billion this year.

If these forecasts are correct, this would represent a 68.8 per cent hike in spending on such technology, compared to the final figure for 2018 ($12.1 billion).

A growing number of businesses around the world are starting to see the benefits of using VR, especially when it comes to communication and collaboration. You can use it for training purposes, to help facilitate video conferences and encourage a team mentality within organisations even if people work in different locations on a regular basis.

Here at M7 Virtual, we produce creative content for ad campaigns, audience engagement and VR experiences, providing our customers with a complete service all the way from VR production to post-production, as well as running an app development studio.

If you’d like to find out more about what we do, get in touch with the team today to see how we can make your VR dreams come true.

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