A few weeks ago we had our first big outing with our 12-camera spherical 3D rig. We were shooting Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers live in concert at Slim’s, a local hot spot for touring bands. I’ll admit I was nervous. Our fledgling was going on its first big shoot and we hadn’t given it an easy job. I spent the entire concert staring at blinking red lights and fussing over camera remotes like a mother pheasant, obsessed with getting the best footage. While concerts, with their constantly changing lighting and fast moving, excited performers, might not be ideal conditions for perfect stitching, they are fantastic places for great VR video and that is exactly what we got.
I am really proud of this video. There, I said it.
While we shot almost two hours of concert, due to temperamental cameras, it wasn’t all useable. We even managed to break the prototype in the process. Basically everything that could have gone wrong short of total failure managed to find a way to happen. And that’s a good thing. I am learning to live with the glacial pace of progress from shoot to final piece, with the certainty of camera failures, with the imperfections. I am learning to let go of the drive to make the space inside the video an exact copy of the place it was shot. To let it be an etherial, broken, second place made from but not analogous to its physical progenitor. To let drummers have 5 1/2 arms and calibration errors eat out black holes and duplicate people (because who doesn’t want more Andrew Huangs in the world am I right? #ClonesforHuang) The perfectionist in me certainly tried to make it as seamless as possible, but where that just wasn’t going to happen I let the mistakes live. And man, many of them turned out beautifully.
I learned that there are lots of problems to fix before the software pipeline is ready for the web video crowd but now that I have a good workflow figured out I am going to spend the next couple of weeks making step by step tutorials for everything: building a duct tape and hot glue level camera head; the joys and woes file management; why Avanti is your best friend; how to trick PTgui in to doing things it is clearly not designed for; how to occupy yourself while waiting through never ending loading bars (otherwise known as stitching); effective exposure management; why you should never trust auto synchronization; and how to get Premiere to cram it all into one 3D frame. The whole kit and caboodle.* That plus designing a new laser-cut camera head and AfterEffects and Premiere plugins for proper editing in spherical 3D mean I got my work cut out for me.
* I realized I have no idea what a caboodle is. Wikipedia informs me that is means “a group, bunch, lot, pack, or collection of things or people” and that it is derived from booty. Which basically means its just a piratey way of saying all the things. Arrrrrrrrr, caboodle.