A new experiment is available for your face: a VR remix video.
I think it’s the world’s first VR remix video? WORLD’S FIRST VR <enter specific thing here>!!! And you can torrent it here.
Somehow, VR film has already attracted some “common wisdom:” things like that you can’t do hard cuts, that you must aspire to be as realistic as possible, that you must have zero visible stitching, a high frame rate, high resolution, etc etc.
Two weeks ago I saw a draft of Emily’s VR film for “A Collaborative Work“, in which she breaks space by stitching together still footage from moving footage. It was transformative. In that moment VR film changed forever for me, and I decided to throw out everything I thought I knew about VR film and do some hardcore space-breaking.
I’d just made this experimental music piece “The Process By Which Repeated Opinion Becomes Fact,” and it demanded to have an experimental music video.
So I tried out a few things:
1. Remix video, to prove that you don’t need your own fancy 360 camera to make VR video art. We now have many VR videos available under a Creative Commons noncommercial share-alike license on our downloads page, and I’m hoping that as our available collection of footage grows we’ll start seeing more artists take advantage of it.
For this video, I chose a moment that had consistently gotten a reaction from viewers: when I demonstrate how close you can get to the camera without stitching errors in the second episode of our talk show, and tried repeated experiments on it to mirror the form of the music.
2. Non-realistic abstracty stuff, because while virtual reality is cool, virtual unreality is even cooler. It’s tough to invest all the work of filming and stitching on something crazy that might not work, but having pre-existing footage to experiment with makes it worth it. So I tried out a bunch of effects and surreal things to see what works. Turns out, our brains are surprisingly forgiving with many of the effects. Now that we know of some crazy things that do work, we can confidently film with these things in mind.
Stereo video adds some difficulty to the process. If an effect affects the left and right footage differently, you might no longer be able to mesh the stereo. Slight differences between eyes end up being huge differences when high-contrast effects are applied, and the mirrored footage is not actually mirrored, but mirrored with a swap of left and right eye and then blended.
3. A flat cut of a VR video. I used animated camera motions to make a flat version of the full spherical video, and uploaded it to my secret second YouTube channel:
We learned a lot from this, and are already working on the next experimental remix video.
I’m interested in the relationship between the flat cut and the original VR film. Future VR music videos might have a lot going on, and you’ll miss a lot on the first viewing. Short music videos are especially conducive to repeated viewing (this may be more likely if it’s your favourite pop song than an experimental 12-tone piece). I like to imagine people watching flat cuts of a music video that highlight various cool things going on in the VR version, and then enjoying finding the things from the flat cut during repeated viewings of the spherical version.
I can’t wait to see a VR music video directed and filmed from the beginning with this goal in mind. And we’d love to see what other people can do with our creative commons footage.