A German media outlet has released an 360 video documentary entitled Vulkane. The video mixes traditional 360 filming techniques with high resolution computer graphics to create a striking visual experience. Vulkane is also available in stereoscopic 3D to viewers accessing the content via a virtual reality headset.
Terra X, as a series, tackles a diverse set of issues and questions by using high end filmmaking techniques. Past episodes included an expose on the legality of marijuana and a study on the flight patterns of the modern honeybee.
With Vulkane being the first VR-compatible entry in the series, ZDF wanted to make sure the video was up to a certain level of visual and narrative quality. The focus, according to the network, was to place audiences in, “hitherto unreachable places or historical events” and, for Vulkane, that means putting you right in the center of an actively erupting volcano.
As nice as Nokia’s OZO and Facebook’s open-sourced 36o camera are, they certainly wouldn’t be much good inside of a boiling lava crater. So ZDF enlisted VFX company Fabier Courtier Digital Productions to digitally recreate the volcano’s fury instead.
The decision to artificially render the action for Vulkane enabled the short documentary to overcome one of 360 video’s most dogged shortcomings: resolution.
The tradeoff when creating an immersive production is a noticeable dip in resolution. Image quality for 360 videos has been largely underwhelming up to this point, especially in this age of 4k monitors and smartphones. The digital graphics used in Vulkane are able to cheat this drawback and create an immersive video that also looks fantastic even on the smaller screens of mobile devices.
Vulkane currently has over 90,000 views on YouTube. It has been nominated for a German web video prize and is optimized specifically for both Oculus and Google Cardboard VR devices.