Our world just got a hell of a lot smaller. Today you can be transported and fully immersed into another part of the world, instantaneously. It’s fucking sorcery. I’ll write a separate piece on the potential for increased “inter-connectedness” and empathy at a later time.
In 2016, I produced Red Bull’s first live virtual reality broadcast at Bestival, executing the entire technical workflow and managing the technology integration within our ecosystems. The social activations posts (here and here) propagated well, nowadays 360 social clips have understandably become mainstream.
How we did it.
We partnered with some pretty awesome people. The VRLive team provided us with the platform, using their web player (cached and embedded on our domains, iframed onto articles) we were able to broadcast the stream at three different bandwidths (ranging from low to high), broadening the spectrum of possible viewers. For hardware and live stitching we partnered with Voysys, a made in Sweden gang. Our broadcast specialists worked on setting up cameras, audio, cabling and monitoring the outgoing content delivery network.
Once the environment and GFX package for the VR environment were greenlit by the festival team, we ordered a 50mb/s ethernet cable setup and shipped twelve packages of gear for a total of 120 kilograms to the Isle of Wight, the vehicles were stopped by festival security on the way in and on the way out. Note to self: warn festival security ahead of time, and remind carriers that reaching an island entails taking a ferry.
Travis – one of the most talented VFX artists I’ve met and master of his craft – and I were already working together on a few other projects (Chromasound), he was the perfect guy for the job: to film, stitch and render a dozen VR clips in 48 hours so we could populate and activate VOD content on the web player alongside the live streams. I needed an independent wizard, Travis delivered.
What we learned.
I’ll be writing an in-depth technical piece on VR soon, these were some of the main takeaways from this production.
1) Lighting: in low-light the Sony sensors have been the best option thus far. We were running on Blackmagic sensors, broadcasting anything was out of the question after sunset…
2) What kind of lenses are you using? Going for infinite focus? Great. Unless you haven’t cleared individuals in the crowd, then go for shallow DOF.
3) Are you using live audio from an external source? Delayed audio? Are you recording the live audio yourself? Or are you planning on using pre-recorded audio? Bring a sound guy. Unless your audiences are viewing your content in magic window without sound, audio is pivotal in VR.
VFX Artist & Camera Operator: Travis Button
Live Camera Operator: Jakob Seybold-Epting
Live Specialist & Audio Technician: Hermann Stemberger
Voysys Software Engineer: Jonathan Nilsson
MCR Technician: Daniel Mayer
CDN Technician: Andreas Adlung
VRLive CTO: Evan Bovie
VRLive Founder: Heiner Lippman