Virtual Reality Is Really COOL!

With Fall upon us I need to post about what I did last summer. One of the most unique shoots was a Virtual Reality project that focused on bees.

So imagine this; you in a virtual environment, not only surrounded by bees, but actually in their hive. Seeing them fly by you and hearing it as they go from one side to the other. By using some fancy VR cameras and shooting plates to “stitch together” into a 360 environment, we did just that. Add in some stereo effects on the audio side….. and anyone afraid of bees should just look away now.

This too place at Adee Honey Bee Farms in Bruce, SD for the NY Times VR app. We all wore bee suits and yes, I still got stung. Once on the lip. But, it was the coolest pain I have experienced. For primary shots we used a the Nokia OZO. Its an 8 lens spherical camera that captures stereo audio for each direction each lens is pointing. The audio is very important as it cues you toward the action and moves with you as the action unfolds. We also used some other multi cameras rigs. One was a a cage holding 6 GoPros and the last was a 180 degree camera that saw both directions. It was the size of a softball. We took that on a drone flight to mimic what a bee might see when flying over a field of sunflowers.

To get a VR video, the images are blended together in a process called stitching. This is where the edge of an image is defined from the available data. When all the video is lined up and stitched, the viewer can watch on on a VR headset, or on their smart phone or tablet. Seriously!! Just load the app, download some files and watch. As you pivot the phone around, you will see the image rotate in the frame, just as if you are there looking around. This opens up a whole new world of storytelling.

Watching this kind of media can be difficult for some people that are prone to motion sickness. Having said that, go check it out. Its simply amazing what we can do today. We can literally put you inside a beehive.