How We Made A Virtual Reality Film

How We Made A Virtual Reality Film

It all started over 100 years ago when the first motion picture camera was invented and still frames began to come alive. In the 1890’s, films were under one minute long and without sound. Come 1927, audiences could now listen to the action taking place on the big screen. On February 15, 1950, the world fell in love with Cinderella and Prince Charming as hand drawn animations. 1977 sent us to a galaxy far far away and in 1995, Pixar released the first feature-length computer-animated film, Toy Story. Fast forward to 2017, visual effects are almost indistinguishable from real life to the point where audiences have absolutely no idea that most action is filmed in front of a green screen and not in the streets of Paris.

Seeing how far the art of filmmaking has progressed is exciting, but it begs the question, where are we headed next? Here at INVAR Studios, we expect, along with a rapidly growing number of others, that virtual reality (VR) filmmaking will be the next stage of filmmaking, and the team behind our newest VR film, ROSE COLORED, is putting their vision of the future of cinema into action.

Let’s go behind the scenes on the set of ROSE COLORED and see what makes virtual reality filmmaking different from traditional filmmaking with insight from some the crew on set including the director himself, Adam Cosco, and executive producer, Vincent Edwards.

Filming in VR:

“A Trip to The Moon” by Georges Méliès

History repeats itself, even in cinema. Just like filmmakers in the early 1900’s who had a very limited amount of camera options at the time, VR filmmakers today are relatively restrained by the lack of high-end VR gear available on the market. That didn’t stop George Méliès from sending his audience on a trip to the moon in 1902, and it won’t stop today’s up and coming filmmakers from creating breathtaking virtual reality experiences that can transport an audience into a new world like never before.

Virtual reality films aim to create a sense of presence in their audience by combining cutting-edge camera technology, an immersive story, and the newest filmmaking techniques. Exploring such uncharted territory comes with opportunities but also its challenges like lacking VR camera equipment.

“Cameras proved to be the biggest problem to solve,” said executive producer of Rose Colored, Vincent Edwards. “There are many VR cameras with strengths and weaknesses, but thanks to 360 Design’s Mini EYE 4 camera, we were able to solve most of our problems ranging from storage space to overheating.”

Tobias Chen, the virtual reality supervisor of the team, was a tremendous asset in building custom camera rigs to help director Adam Cosco turn his vision into a reality. Chen built a helmet rig with four Entaniya Japanese Fisheye camera lenses on bicycle helmet used to give the audience a 360-degree point of view perspective from the actors, a key aspect of the film. Multiple scenes include such shots where you see what a girl is seeing and what a guy is seeing on a date from their side of things. Adam also wanted to use VR to film what death might feel like, so Chen attached a camera on a pulley rigging system and sent the camera diving off an apartment balcony ledge. Chen said this way a cost-effective process when compared to other solutions using permit-requiring drones.

Tobias Chen’s VR Camera Rig used to capture a dinner date from the female’s perspective

Once the correct equipment was put in place, the fun began with filming on location at an Airbnb location in downtown LA. The choice of locations in VR films is especially important because, at any time, the audience could be looking at any part in it. Producer Vincent Edwards emphasized the idea that “You have to choose a location that showcases the VR technology with looking around an interesting place”

In traditional films, you follow the actor with the camera, but in VR you have to film everything including the crew behind the scenes to capture all 360 degrees for the viewer to see. In order to mask out the crew in the final version of the film, director of photography, Maximilian Schmige has to shoot a clean plate of the background without the crew and equipment present so the visual effects team can later stitch the shots together and create the illusion of an empty room with just the actors present. Every shot, and in turn, the whole movie is essentially filmed twice all in hopes to create a sense of presence for the audience.

Director of Photography, Maximilian Schmige, captures the action with four cameras filming simultaneously

“If your script in a VR film is not efficient, everything will feel like security-cam footage,” says writer/director Adam Cosco. “In traditional films, you can make cuts to dialog, but this is not possible in VR, so detailed planning is essential.” Hundreds of hours of planning went into ROSE COLORED, and in the final product, you can’t tell, which is exactly what Cosco wants in order to create a sense of pure immersion.

Director Adam Cosco on set with VR Specialist Tobias Chen and Actress Mariana Novak

So much goes into making a virtual reality film, that most people have trouble wrapping their head around how to make good VR content. “VR content is not easy, which is certainly a challenge, but we see it as an opportunity.” Cosco adds, “Traditional filmmaking is saturated with amazing content, so we are taking the road less traveled and looking to make a splash.”

Click Here To Learn More About Rose Colored!

 

Presented by INVAR Studios

Produced by Elizabeth Koshy and Vincent Edwards.

Written and directed by Adam Cosco.

Creative Supervision – Alejandro Franceschi

VFX Work – DIGIKORE Studios

Full cast and crew at IMDB.

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Patrick Bocchicchio is a third-year student at Pennsylvania State University studying finance and technology-based entrepreneurship. Pat joined INVAR as an intern in late 2016 and has since transitioned into his new role as Business Development Associate.