It’s not easy, being a VR filmmaker. Immersive Media is doing their best to take some of the pain away with the latest update to their imLive platform.
In case you’re not a commercial, live-action VR filmmaker (we can’t all be perfect), the imLive system is an on-the-fly stitching and broadcasting solution for 360 VR. It takes an array of cameras — doesn’t matter if it’s GoPros, Ladybug systems, or a Red Epic array — and produces a spherical map in the fly. It also can livestream the VR video to just about any device: in VR, it can stream to a DK1/2 or the Gear VR; it can also stream a 360 degree video to phones or tablets.
For the DITs in the house (that’s ‘digital intermediate techs’), the imLive gets rid of card juggling, taking all the video inputs and recording the stitched result to a single file. And the new imLive goes straight to ProRes if you want (and you probably want, let’s be honest).
The system is available for sale, but Immersive mostly rents them out for production shoots. In which case it comes along with Ryan Whitehead, Immersive Media’s Creative Director. Whitehead touts the value of having a live VR stream on set for giving (occasionally VR-inexperienced) directors a realistic view of the scene:
“With a live stream to a Gear VR or Oculus on set, the director can say ‘don’t land on that stitch line'”. Which is obviously a lot better than trying to stare at a 2D monitor and figure out what things will look like when they’re un-smeared. It also helps inexperienced VR directors understand the creative consequences of on-set decisions — like putting the camera array in the corner of the room, or having actors face away from the rig … which has happened, according to Whitehead.
With so little live-action VR to date, it’s not surprising that we’re still breaking free of the old techniques of traditional media production. Having a live view will certainly help.