You’re right there, standing half-court as the Warriors challenge the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. You’ve seen this before, you already know which team makes history, but never before from this vantage point. In a snap, you’re now standing in the stands with cheering fans — then you’re in the locker rooms prepping for game time.
If this seems a bit manic for you, it’s because it is. But it works — especially since this is being shot entirely for virtual reality.
In partnership with Facebook’s Oculus team, the NBA has released a VR documentary that runs a surprisingly 25-minutes long, taking you behind-the-scenes for the dramatic games in Oakland and Cleveland that led to the Cavaliers taking home their first championship.
Follow My Lead: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals is narrated by actor Michael B Jordan and features the two teams going head to head in the NBA Finals back in June. The 3D VR documentary film is available starting today for free on the Oculus Store for Gear VR. If you don’t have access to a Gear VR, you can view the 360 video experience on the NBA’s Facebook page.
Watching classic sports documentaries, as compelling as they can be for fans, often leave you as an outside observer looking in. This 25-minute 3D VR experience is not only something different from the traditional film documentary sense, but also different from what we have seen in VR filmmaking.
The VR experience has no shortage of veteran creators working in this new VR format, which includes three-time Emmy-award winning director Gabe Spitzer, VR director Ray Tintori and 22-time Emmy Award winning writer Aaron Cohen. The team also worked alongside production company m ss ng p eces (prounounced “missing pieces”) to bring this entire mini-documentary to life.
Although we may not be used longer form VR content, the film’s 25-minute length gives you the time to turn the focus on the story, not the technology. According to Oculus, it’s the longest live action production of its kind, pushing VR storytelling to its limits given most VR content is under 10 minutes, and is generally produced in a more “passive” style.
Aside from the length, the creators also pushed what is typically seen in the length of cuts for VR, using quick cuts that averaged 6-8 seconds versus a more common approach of 10 seconds or more. This was accomplished by repositioning shots so you don’t miss any of the key action going from shot to shot. The film also lets viewers watch without trying to “find where the story is”.
“This was an amazing opportunity to tell a propulsive, multi-protagonist story in VR about characters that people are passionately invested in, and to film those characters in the most climactic moments of their lives,” noted VR director Ray Tintori. “Capturing a story of that complexity in such a kinetic, high-stakes environment made the project a constantly exhilarating experience.”
So if you have a Gear VR handy, go grab it — and i’ll see you in 25 minutes. Let us know what you think.