I produced and directed the following projects whilst working as an integrated producer for Red Bull Media House.
This story is centred on music as our universal language, and the common desire for escape from the everyday, to live in bliss at the heart of a music and arts festival. If music is to sound what chaos is to order, I needed this story to reflect our emotional states as we exit the bustle of a city and enter the calm perfection of the stage. We needed order in the chaos. As always, writing the voiceover was a blast, and it happened while hugging a glass of red wine (or five).
Over the first half of 2016 I slowly found myself more and more involved in VR. For a sci-fi addict the storytelling opportunities were ridiculously attractive, imagination unfiltered, endless worldbuilding. For a journalist the impact immersive cinema would have on an audience is incomparable to linear video, it is an experience and an inseparable part of our memory, it becomes a part of who we are. I remember taking a GoPro spherical rig (the now obsolete third-party 3D-printed rigs, not the sexy beasts that are on the market today) from our equipment pool on holiday with me in Norway, I wanted to film, learn and make something.
Chromasound was Red Bull's first stereoscopic VR story, and I wanted to be damn proud of it. I'm typing this with a smile on my face, must be a good sign. Currently used for on-site activation at festivals.
CREDITS Chroniclr: Director, Producer Travis Button: Nuke Artist & Cameraman C-Black: Original Soundtrack Scott Stevens: Composer Ben Eggerhorn: Sound Mixer Sergio Martinez: CG Animations Creative Director Uli Mast: Post Production Supervisor Creative Agency: Manson Street Fisayo Akinade: Voiceover Artist (London Voiceover Boutique)
FESTIVALS Primavera Sound Bonnaroo Roskilde Lollapalooza Bestival ACL Music
After a bumpy start and uncertain future, I was beyond excited when Chordsurfer landed on my desk. Both Michael - our interactive designer, and an all-round fantastic person to work with - and Epic Games were equally psyched at a second chance for the browser game. We worked together to rethink the overall design, background elements and icons in light of the new demographic for the project.
Audio was the backbone of the game, and had to be re-imagined to fit in the new context. We eventually opted for a guitar baseline and worked alongside our music portfolio team to create 11 separate stems.
We rendered a teaser for Chordsurfer to be scheduled as on-air promotion for our linear stream, and cross-promoted the project within the live broadcast of Roskilde Festival in July. The game was also iframed on redbull.com and activated on our social channels as an enhancement feature for our audiences.
Digital Agency: Epic Games Producer: Chroniclr Co-Producer & Interactive Designer: Michael Webersdorfer Audio Post-Production Supervisor: Elke Baxrainer Design Coordinator: Stefan Bergmayr Design Coordinator: Theresa Honzak
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.
Watch the archived version here (most of the content has been removed). Read the article.
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.
CREDITS Producer/Director: Chroniclr 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
Special thanks to VRLive and Bestival for their incredible support on this project.
Let’s face it, JPEG lineups aren’t ideal for music discovery. Not in the 21st century when we can make them interactive and listen to every artist with a single click. If festivals want to keep supporting hidden musical gems, we'll need better lineups. Given Red Bull TV would be covering six festivals over summer 2016, we wanted to build an interactive web line-up for all of them, with each festival becoming prioritised as the landing page as the months rolled on. The microsite, built by Jam3, was the only hub where all of our festivals were featured on the same page, it also enabled us to compartmentalise artists broadcasted live on Red Bull TV in the top segment of the vertical scroll.
The .js file had to be manually updated - simple matter of copy/pasting the artist's unique key and selecting "yes" or "not" to specify if the artist is featured on Red Bull TV - which can be time consuming when lineups and legal clearances are changing every half hour. I have a distinct memory of filming additional content in Barcelona city centre and hot-spotting myself to update the lineups from a taxi on the way back to the festival.
The site was featured on Awwwards, a dedicated story sat permanently on redbull.com/music to support digital activation across all festivals (since removed). We also supported the creation of additional content to activate the festivals online, some examples here and here.