An Analysis of the Tools, Processes, and Storytelling Techniques of Virtual Reality Filmmaking

Exploring Cinematic VR was a research project in virtual reality filmmaking at Florida State University with three principle goals.  The first goal was to contribute exciting new content to the quickly emerging medium of cinematic VR.  The second was to develop a comprehensive production pipeline for use at Florida State University’s College of Motion Picture Arts as they move forward in the development of an immersive media degree program.  The final goal was to document the entire process and everything that was learned in a final paper and abstract that will analyze the tools, processes, and storytelling techniques that were used during the development of original VR content.

To accomplish these goals, I began small by directing short 360 video experiences using custom GoPro rigs.  These experiments not only tested storytelling techniques in cinematic VR, but also allowed us to begin experimenting with new 360 tool-sets such as Mettle Skybox, Nuke's Cara VR, and Facebook's 360 Spatial Audio Workstation.  Following the GoPro experiences, I worked with Frank Patterson, Dean of the College of Motion Picture Arts, in the development of a 10-minute VR short film shot on the Nokia Ozo.  The film just premiered in Las Vegas at the 2016 University Film and Video Association conference.  I was able to apply both my on-set experience gained through film school and my knowledge of VR workflows gained through my research by serving as the production's 1st Assistant Director and Post-Production Supervisor.  Additionally, I worked as a lead visual effects artist on the film, training and supervising underclassmen on Nuke/Cara VR as well as tackling the roto/paint work on all of the moving shots.  Finally, I interviewed each crew member as well as outside experts and compiled a final paper that was submitted to the Florida State University Honors Scholars Association.

You can read my final thesis paper by clicking on this link.

This project has been an absolute blast and has compelled me to continue exploring cinematic VR and 360 video as an exciting new medium in which to tell stories.  If you would like a copy of the final paper, please send an email request to baur.austin@gmail.com.  In the mean time, I plan on posting my work in bits and pieces across blog posts, articles, and videos in the near future.

Be sure to check out my Blog to see more information on this project!