Gold Creek VR: The Gold Standard For Virtual Reality Production
James Markham Hall, Jr’s life was changed forever as he was exposed to Oculus Rift for the first time in 2014. Screening one of his 3D shorts at the 3D Film Festival, he checked out a Dos Equis branded experience. “When I took off the goggles, I realized I had to learn how to make VR immediately,” he says.
Gold Creek VR was launched when James and his producing partner Ted Faye decided to take their passion and experience from the documentary world and create a historical series in Virtual Reality. Additionally, they created the award-winning documentary series “Weird Tales” and many other works through their company Gold Creek Films. Their most recent collaboration is the feature-length documentary “IVERSON” on the life NBA All-Star Allen Iverson.
Behind Gold Creek VR’s prestige, there are the award-winning VR series “American Ghost Towns,” newly-released “Super Pups” and “Scotty’s Castle”, a documentary on the historic landmark at Death Valley National Park as part of their new series “Historic Treasures of the National Parks.”
Super Pups was originally developed as a Stereo 3D television series entitled “Pete The Wonder Dog”, featuring James’ late King Charles Cavalier Spaniel “Pete”. Four years ago, after extensive test shoots, James determined that the technology was not quite ready to turn out the way he envisioned, and moved on to other projects while continuing development in the meantime. Four years later, Super Pups came out starring Super Pudding and Super Peaches and a sneak peek of Pete The Wonder Dog: Hologram Edition.
To deliver the Super Pups Preview in Stereo 3D 360 with spatial audio to make it in time for National Dog Day was an upstream sailing, James admits. Knowing from his experience producing and shooting 3D film and television projects that capturing native 3D was the most compelling and immersive way to go, he shot all of the live action elements featuring Pudding, Peaches, and Pete natively in Stereo 3D.
Extensive planning and preparation preface every project Gold Creek undertakes. In addition to figuring which historical aspects to focus on, scouting locations in advance and figuring out the best time of day to film are essential to the success of a project. “It’s important to know whether or not we’ll need to bring in supplemental lighting equipment,” James explains. For long moving 360 shots they also built a custom motion control movement system.
Once done, they stitch up the shots to create a rough edit in Adobe Premiere utilizing the Skybox Studio plugins from Mettle and several other tools. If happy with the edit, they will go back and polish the individual shots in Adobe After Effects utilizing Mettle Skybox Studio and Mocha VR from Boris FX. This process includes leveling the horizon, image sharpening, color correction, compositing, stabilization, adding a nadir patch and/or removing camera support, shadows or our motion control movement device.
The first 6 episodes of American Ghost Towns were shot utilizing the Freedom 360 camera system with GoPro Hero 4 Black cameras. According to James, this is a very cost-effective way of creating BK monoscopic 360 videos. The system works great when objects are several feet away from the camera, but using a 6 camera array in tight quarters can sometimes create stitching issues, which James relies on his compositing skills and Adobe’s powerful tools to correct any stitching issues I may have through painting and advanced compositing techniques.
I see the future of VR being something that is inherently more interactive, allowing viewers to engage with elements within the virtual world in a manner that is more akin to the real world or possibly even a heightened reality. I see VR headsets becoming less obtrusive and experiences becoming more immersive through direct interfacing with our senses.
——James Markham Hall, Jr.
That said, Gold Creek is also keeping an eye for augmented reality, which many expect to be the next catalyst for growth for the realities family.
For more information, visit GoldCreekVR.com.