Seemingly out of nowhere, in a large warehouse environment, a Southern California alternative rock band called Galvanized Souls appears on stage with their name in lights and lasers beaming out into the crowd. Directors, producers, musicians, make up artists, prop builders, caterers, and a photographer or two gather at New Deal Studios to record the bands’ latest music video for a song called “New Generation.” The path chosen is a virtual one filled with medieval fights, bazooka blasts, and cameras arranged in 360 degree patterns – putting the viewer right in the middle of it all while the story unfolds.
The filming took place at the same spot where a virtual reality meetup known as VRLA held a massive event which attracted over 600 people months before. Now, the location is dark lit with an actual stage off to the side. Smoke fills the room as a crew sets up the lights. Electrical signals from the instruments surge through the wires to the other side. Cameras start rolling, and “Action!”
Over a period of two days, the teams involved banded together to shoot a storyline through multiple angles of a VR-ready camera, provided by a Canadian-based company called Immersive Media. They not only supplied the physical rigs, but also quickly stitched rough cuts on the fly.
The rough stitches allowed the people creating the scenes to quickly view the takes, giving them a unique look at the various stages of production leading towards a finished product.
The scene progresses from a “Game of Thrones”-esque dinner room where a fight breaks out. Swords clash as a King with a golden crown and a leather viewmaster watches the violence nearby. The hand-made weapons fill the area. Then, the environment transitions into a drug related battle complete with fire and explosions. Outside where the shootout occurs, bullets still lay on the ground ready to be transformed into jewelry for the band.
Throughout the filming, there was a sense of a Do-It-Yourself nature floating withing the environment. This stemmed in part from how the members of Galvanized Souls create their own instruments along with the expertise of New Deal Studio’s prop building techniques. It was wonderful to watch the action while in motion from behind the scenes.
The video was written and directed by New Deal Studios’ own Matthew Gratzner, who is an award-winning visual effects supervisor. He is an experienced director of several feature films and commercials. In addition, Gratzner created and expanded his work into the exciting realm of immersive filmmaking with one of the earliest examples of VR cinema. That project was called “The Mission” and was filmed in partnership with the influential virtual reality company Jaunt. Gratzner has worked with the National Hockey League as well.
New Deal Studios is best known for their visual effects in popular films such as the The Dark Knight Batman series, The Avengers, Shutter Island, Inception, and of course the Academy Award winning flick Interstellar. Shannon Gans, CEO and founder of New Deal Studios, was an integral part of the production and was seen always on set.
In collaboration with both Galvanized Souls and New Deal Studios, a relatively new player in the VR scene ran the show. The immersive storytelling entertainment production firm Springbok Entertainment, led by their CEO and founder, Brandon Zamel, made the connections and brought the whole production together.
In Zamel’s equipment bag was a Samsung Gear VR headset (powered by Oculus) that casually made its way into the hands of the team members as the filming continued over the frame of two days. Some of those people never tried VR before, or may have only glimpsed through a Google cardboard. It was awesome to see them view each stage of filming during that time. This allowed the work to progress at a steadily fast rate because the vision of the video could be seen during each section. This made VR a useful tool during the production process.
As the doors of New Deal Studios closed after two days of filming, the post production will continue, culminating in a release shortly after. So look out for this exhilarating music video coming to a VR headset near you soon! To find out when, follow the band on Twitter at @GalvanizedSouls.
Expect more music videos coming to Virtual Reality as time goes on. The medium is finally taking off, and it starts with productions like this at places like New Deal Studios. We will continue covering the landscape as it happens. More stories like this are emerging soon.