Since I found out about the YouTube 360 app, I have been researching into documentaries that use 360 video to tell their story. There are several major media outlets that have produced films, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the New York Times. One of my favorites so far comes from the NYT magazine, who have a dedicated channel to 360 videos including daily stories. The film, called ‘Walking New York’, is about the French artist JR who uses large scale images posted onto the urban landscape, in this case the square in front of the flat iron building in Manhattan. He uses an image of a immigrant mid-stride to reflect that 40% of the population of New York are immigrants. The film documents how the piece was produced.
It was interesting to see techniques used and how the artist was addressing camera or the viewer. I’m not sure if I would use this idea, as I am filming my interviews as part of normal film and documenting elements of the artist working in their environments with both the 360 and normal cameras.
I have had some success with arranging filming sessions with two artists, one I shot yesterday, and one is booked in for next Saturday. I have also had a response from a third who is interested and I am trying to work out a date with.
I have rendered one of the 8K 360 videos of Alan Dyer out over night. I think I may look at editing this video with the second camera I was using for a different view point. I changed the camera height in this film from my first attempt with John Yeadon as I had feedback that the point of view seemed to be a little low. I had set it to John’s head height when he was kneeling on the floor working. For the film of Alan Dyer, I set the camera height to my head height. I think it works better this way, although I haven’t tested it on the VR headsets to see how it comes across on that viewing platform. These films take around ten hours to render approximately six minutes of footage on my laptop. I may have to see if I can access a more powerful computer.
Over the past few weeks I have been working on testing 360 video capture settings using the Insta360 Pro camera. This process has been incredibly time consuming as the video rendering has taken up to 11 hours to complete.
In the meantime I have been working on arranging shoots for my project. One of the first responses I had from my email was from John Yeadon. I arranged to film John, who is a trustee of the Canal Basin Trust, on Tuesday 7th November at his home studio. Although not a current resident of the warehouse, John was one of the first group of artists who had a studio in the space.
I spent around three hours with John, interviewing him, filming him working on a painting of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in the 1950’s and also capturing him in his studio with the 360 camera. He is a very interesting person and has been both an academic at Coventry University and a practicing artist in Coventry for a number of years.
YouTube allows you to view 360 videos in different ways. You can use your computer to view the video online, using your keyboard or mouse to move the point of view of the video around. Alternatively, if you use your smart phone, you can move your phone round and the video responds as if you looking in the actual studio. This is a very interesting point of view.
Today I had the opportunity to use the same video clip with a set of HTC Vive VR goggles. After some research into how to view 360 footage with VR headsets, I managed to play back the video. The experience was incredible, it was so immersive, just like you were stood in the room watching John in his element. This has got me thinking about what proportion of my documentary should be 360 video? My feelings are that it is more experimental than a ‘traditional’ film and therefore ’21st century’, but I have my reservations on how dynamic the footage is. I only captured one position in John’s studio and it seems a little static, but I can’t move the camera about whilst filming without appearing in the footage. I am booking a tutorial with Ken to discuss the idea before proceeding with more filming. In the meantime, I will look into testing the 360 files with Klynt and editing my interview and documentary footage of John.
I sent John a link to the video and he is very interested in me filming his up and coming exhibition using the 360 camera.