David Svoboda: VR Producer+Star Wars Fan+Nature Lover+…
David Svoboda is a star creator on VeeR. He not only has his own VeeR channel, but also encourages his students to upload VR videos on VeeR as a main semestral hosting teacher at Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. We are very happy to interview him about his passion and personal experience in VR.
My main interest was animation.When I found out that it was possible to do it for a living, I wanted to be part of it as well. But since I was more in the environment where technical skills were perceived as more important, my education went into mechanical engineering, where I found the world of 3D and quickly morphed into 3D animations.
Photo of David wearing VR headsets (Photo by Jakub Golla)
I knew that I wanted to do animation, and to kind of digging into art through technical experience I’ve earned. I went to Czech Technical University in Prague to study art-hinted, newly-opened branch called Web and Multimedia and took all possible classes. I also enhanced my skills by taking professional character animation courses Anomalia lectured by professionals from Pixar and am continuing doing so. During my study, I have started exploring stereoscopy and spent some time in CAVE—a cube of stereo projections on each wall, ,making my first VR experience ever. Although I got sick and had an headache, I still loved it. I took my own scenes and models, and explored them in CAVE. Getting really hooked, I wanted to create more of these.
After finishing school, I was working on intros, series and movies mostly as a 3D generalist and animator. Then Oculus DK1 was available and I bought it immediately. I was so happy to have VR at home with no need for CAVE or any other expensive devices for experiments.
mucirnaBok (Photo by David)
David’s Star Wars— Hunting for the Fallen 360 VR has gone viral on our platform with 500k+ views. As big fans ourselves, we asked him about the story behind the scenes.
Well, the core team consisted of three people: Jiří Kilevník, me and Petr Vícha. Each one of us had a different expertise as Jiří and Petr was experienced in 2D post production and live action shooting, and myself experienced in VR, 3D and animation. There was also a great team of people helping us. This project would be very different without them.
Photo of David immersed in Virtual Reality (Photo by Jakub Golla)
The general idea of creating VR movie was there from the moment when I bought Oculus DK1. As Star Wars was the world we wanted to see in VR the most, Jiří contacted Lucasfilm/Disney describing what we want to achieve. We got in return comic book story from Marvel which we could transfer into VR. And then the work begun. From that point it took 3-4 months to create this story.
Venator (Photo by David)
We had to start with chewing up the images, which served as a storyboard. The storyboard helps us decide what to keep and how to transfer these raw materials into a 360 video. I started with building environments. During that time, Jiří approached Star Wars actors from Czech Garrison of 501st Legion and Jan Korynta from Prague Film Orchestra, asking if they want to work with us. When environments were sort of ready, we did a lot of tests, such as where to put camera and actors. These attempts were made because we wanted to get the idea before shooting and plan everything properly. There was also a task to design the environments in terms of transitions between views. For example, there was a scene where we needed character entrance being surprise for audience as well as for the protagonist. Instead of using cuts and other cinematic tools which were not suitable for VR, we staged actors and designed environment layout to fulfil our goals.
The shooting itself took two intense days at the Institute of Intermedia (Czech Technical University), where brave actors did their best under the heat of strong lights. They were admirable as they took shot after shot to finish the movie under great time pressure. Us three directors each focused on our field of expertise. Jiří did more works with actors and checked shots in terms of 2D post-production. I took care of actor spacing and staging in invisible virtual space and Petr was in charge of image quality, camera and lights.
Hallway Test (Photo by David)
Then the real hard work came to us. The footage was processed, roughly edited, went through greenscreen keying, FX as lightsaber lighting. The environments were animated and rendered, post-produced and color-corrected. Voiceovers, music and sound FX were added. It was amazing how things started to play out as pieces came together. I was not able to mention everybody, but behind this movie are a lot of dedicated people giving their best. I’m thankful for that experience.
Photo of David Lecturing (Photo by Jakub Golla)
Besides Star Wars— Hunting for the Fallen 360 VR, David also produced VR videos of other subject matters. In terms of A Trip to Seezpitze – Austria, the rocky mountain seems so tough to climb! How did he manage to keep himself safe as well as recording at the same time?
To be honest, I have found out that it was not safe to record while climbing. I almost fell down which I guess that part was in the video. Most of the time I was holding the camera on my head trying to provide some stabilization. The walk was intense, but it was just like going up steep stairs, so I could still record. On one occasion it was steeper than I thought, so I had to use my recording hand, resulting in a few first scratches on my brand new Gear 360.
Yes, I love nature but I’m not particularly focused on going too extreme as I get lost easily 🙂 I’m glad to be Czech as Czechia provides rich and calm nature combined with architecture with a long history. All that with really small chance to get really lost. What I like the most is actually running through landscape being in the moment and absorbing the environment.