The six year running VidCon is a three day convention in Anaheim, CA that brings together some of the most popular YouTube creators and their fans for days of panels, workshops, and non-stop fan screaming. Aside from the ever growing amount of teenage fans vying for the opportunity to catch a selfie with their favorite video celebrity, VidCon 2015 introduced attendees and creators to the growing world of virtual reality and 360-degree video.
VidCon highlighted two virtual reality panels open to the Creator Track which included a How To: Virtual Reality Video workshop and a Q&A Session with Brandon Laatsch from Stress Level Zero.
The first how to VR workshop was conducted by eleVR, a VR research group that’s dedicated to helping the community and educating on techniques when it comes to shooting, stitching, editing, and viewing 360-degree content. Their latest blog post on “The Complete Theta Tutorial” is a step-by-step breakdown on shooting with the Ricoh Theta, stitching, and uploading to YouTube.
Following the How To: Virtual Reality Video workshop was a Q&A session with film-maker Brandon Laatsch. Laatsch previously worked with Freddie Wong on Video Game High School and is the founder of Stress Level Zero and is now developing projects for the HTC Vive.
Laatsch first stepped onto the VidCon scene back in 2010 when the VlogBrothers approached him and Freddie Wong about doing a Q&A session. Around the same time he also found himself deeply curious about VR; like his team, he was constantly on the Oculus subreddit. Since his Q&A session was well received back in 2010, Laatsch decided to bring it back but this time on the topic of virtual reality.
Audience was mixed with variety of attendee backgrounds: Industry (corporations, brands, media), Creators (Video Producers, Architects, Videographers), and just people who wanted to know more about VR storytelling; especially if they were going to be creating on their own.
If we think about the retention rate of an immersive VR experience, it’s all about how detailed the storytelling aspect is. This was the most in-demand topic and question that was asked in various ways. Brandon Laatsch did his best to answer these questions and explain to the audience, whether new to VR or a full developer/creator.
Q: How do you direct the viewer to a certain part of the video?
A: It’s like going back to school of theater. You can use lighting to direct to areas to focus on, but you can’t fully guarantee it. Just like being in a theater the audience has the opportunity to leave at any moment and get up and go to the bathroom.
Q: How do you overcome the storytelling challenges?
A: Less editing and longer shots and experiment with it.
Q: How do you tell stories outside of the traditional storytelling methods and integrate elements?
A: People think they have to do 360, but you don’t. A style we’re approaching is the way graphic novels are shot. Unlike comic book styles where it cuts from shot to shot, we want to present one shot here and transition to present one here and then you’re looking from shot to shot going through it and in between having sequences to make it feel more 360.
For Creators in the audience, it seemed like there were a lot of people who were experimenting with 360 but getting hung up on the editing. There were questions when it came to audio.
Q: Can you explain the workflow of stitching software and/or how you’re experiencing with audio?
A: Not too familiar with stitching software and we use NUKE and After Effects. It’s just much easier because we’re so comfortable with those programs.
Q: Thoughts on Binaural Audio?
A: Atmos fixes it rendering out the ears based on the position as you look around. But the easiest updates are in-engine. If someone were 12 years old right now I would point them though towards Unity looking at a game engine, learning code, and starting learning storytelling that way.
FUTURE OF VR
From advertising, to multi-experience, curious minds wanted to know Brandon’s thoughts on how the industry would progress.
Q: Advertisers will they do branded videos with product placement?
A: 360 ads will be produced. YouTube announced they will be supporting 360 ads within YouTube a couple of days ago. But it will depend on appetite and inventory for 360 content and he sees it just like when YouTube first came out with ads.
Q: Do you see this expanding beyond a singular experience?
A: All roads point back to an engine. For example, we’re creating a multi-player title for Vive and network people the same way as a multi-player game. You can network a theater experience, a network whatever you want to create as long as the backbone player is the networked engine. So you could be in a shared space and throwing darts and have a drink and chit-chat just like you would be in Skype call.
Q: 2 years from now paint a picture for VR.
A: Currently theaters are using 4k projectors. Current headsets are 1.4k per eye, in order to match that projected resolution you need a 2k by 2k per eye and that will happen. On the cinematic side a lot of social networking type of things. Think of the equivalent of Tinder and it will be one of the most social mediums we’ve ever had.
When it comes down to it, we know it’s about the accessibility to platforms and tools. With YouTube rolling out 360-degree video options to creators and lower barrier to entry tools like the Ricoh Theta camera, enabling virtual reality for creators is becoming more and more possible.