As part of my ongoing quest to discover the whats and hows of spherical cinematography I (this is Emily by the way) have been experimenting with shooting the same scene simultaneously with multiple spherical cameras. Over in flatland multi-camera setups have been around for about 65 years. They have been a mainstay of TV since the early 1950’s. Often filmed in front of a live studio audience, multi-camera shows are captured concurrently from multiple, usually 3 or 4, angles. It is most often employed in television because while the director of the shows gets less control over any one shot, it is faster and cheaper since this method is designed to capture events live and in order instead of repeating scenes multiple times.
So what happens when you take that idea, simultaneous capture from multi viewpoints, and let it loose on immersive capture? Here are my results so far by type.
“Between me” was shot on a sunny afternoon in Dolores park. I set up one camera on each side of me with about a meter total distance between the two. In editing I blended the two viewpoints into one. It looks pretty convincing until passers-by drift over the seam. Watching it I tend to look back and forth between the two Emilys never quite catching the same movement from both sides. I become a gateway, a set of twin pillars which you can neither fully pass through nor retreat from.
“Toward” was made by attaching a camera to both mine and my husbands bicycles. The footage was simply cropped to the width of the handle bars of each bike and oriented so we were facing each other, fingers close enough to touch, with no effort made toward an illusion of singularity. I made it to see what would happen if the time slice each camera was capturing were the same but the spaces were separated. It is hard to tell this piece was shot simultaneously unless you watch the cars in the background carefully.
“From Both Sides” is a movement study that was shot on my deck. The two cameras were about 2.5 meters from one another at the same height. One shot is simply overlaid on the other and realigned. When I was playing with the footage alignment in post I discovered the semi transparent overlap of two slightly misaligned copies of the same space was really visually compelling. I like the vague strain of my brain trying to snap the two together as I pass in and out of the space between the cameras.
“It takes such a long time” is my favorite of the bunch. It’s easily the most interesting video I have made in four months. Similar to “Between me” the cameras were placed at only a meter apart but this time one was half a meter above the other as well. Because my body, and most of the rest of the scene, is above the lower of the two cameras, as opposed to more eye level with it like the high camera, the lower section of footage seems to perch looking down over the shoulder of the higher camera. The higher the camera the lower in the sphere the bulk of action will sit and, at least using this editing technique, the lower it will sink in the visual stack of footage. In this piece I chose to configure it so the basic cardinal directions of both shots were aligned to keep the space consistent but breaking that rule, as in “From Both Sides” above, also garners interesting, if more cognitively taxing, results. One thing to note when watching “It takes such a long time” is that a piece of this duration is ill suited to watching on a phone. Where possible I would choose to show it to you on a small full dome screen suited to house a 2 or 3 of audience members at a time.
As more patterns emerge I will report back to share what I find.