Here’s How This Australian Video Production Company Innovates with VR
Visual Domain is a leading video production company in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 2008, the company now hosts over 60 creatives and produces more than 200 videos every week. Recently VeeR managed to have a conversation with Scott Ward, the National Media & Project Manager at Visual Domain, on a series of questions that many followers of the company have been itching to raise. Let’s hear Scott’s insights about virtual reality.
VeeR: Since its establishment in 2008, what are some of the most memorable projects Visual Domain has undertaken?
Scott: Visual Domain is one of Australia’s leading video production companies. We know how to create content that works, and take pride in our ability to produce high-impact videos for any business in any industry. Over the years we have produced over 30,000 videos and assembled a creative team of more than sixty innovators.
Some of our most memorable projects have been in the 360/VR market, including a world first for the fashion industry where we mounted a camera from the roof directly above the centre of a catwalk. This was a full 360/VR experience, live-streaming fashion label We Are Handsome’s show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2016, and provided an unrivalled viewing experience for audiences around the world.
Another recent memorable project was our promotional series for Phillip Island Nature Parks. This was a huge undertaking, involving the production of over thirty videos for their tourism marketing department. The highlight of the series was a 360/VR social media video of the iconic Penguin Parade, featuring the penguins marching from the shore to their burrows to feed their young.
Philip Island Penguin Parade 360/VR
VeeR: What were your solutions to the unavoidable challenges your project posed?
Scott: A lot of the challenges we face are a result of the technology we use being so new. The 360/VR live stream we did for We Are Handsome involved technology that was so untested, we had to do a lot of development in-house before we could proceed. For example, iPhones at the time couldn’t play VR videos in cardboard mode, so we had to develop our own app specifically for the event.
We have also had a lot of problems with lighting, especially during night shoots. Our go-to setup for most situations is a custom GoPro rig, however, we’ve found the cameras aren’t ideal for night shoots or locations that experience harsh lighting changes. To overcome this, we developed our own custom rig using Sony a7S MKII cameras. These handle night scenes like it’s daylight and the footage looks amazing. The files are tedious to stitch together but, with a lot of hard work, the result speaks volumes.
VeeR: How do you combine computer-generated images and live-action shooting?
Scott: At Visual Domain, we have an amazingly talented pool of 3D and special effects animators. With the use of After Effects, Cinema 4D, Adobe Premiere, and 3D and 360/VR plugins, we are able to combine video footage with CGI as easily as if it were a standard 2D video. Working in this 3D/360 space is quite tricky though, as having to cover every direction requires a lot of forethought and you can lose yourself if you’re not careful.
VeeR: What new tools and techniques are you implementing to take VR videography to the next level?
Scott: When the movie Avatar was released in 3D, it blew everyone’s minds. We aim to do the same thing with VR, creating ultra-realistic images that make you feel as though you could reach out and touch them.
VeeR: What are some 360 cameras and 3D/VR software that you’d like to recommend?
Scott: A staple program at Visual Domain is Adobe After Effects; it’s simple to use, but amazingly in-depth and powerful. With the use of plugins such as Mocha AE and Skybox Studio, we can do practically anything we want in the 360/VR space.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet 360
VeeR: What visions do you have for the future of VR? Especially in terms of using VR for advertising and marketing, do you differentiate between b2b and b2c applications? What are their individual characteristics for a VR studio like yours?
Scott: VR is a very hard market to break into, especially when it comes to b2b. It’s very hard to convince potential clients why they should use VR, what they will get out of it and how it can help their business. While it’s true that VR has a limited benefit for some businesses, we have found a number of successful uses:
A recent job we completed used VR to showcase advertising billboards across Australia. It was shot from the perspective of a shopper walking along busy streets, surrounded by major advertisements. Previously our client was flying clients across Australia, spending a fortune on airfares and accommodation to present these advertisements in real life; now they simply take VR devices to sales meetings, hand them over to potential clients and send them on a journey around the country. The client has described it as ‘the closest thing to being there’, and it enables them to showcase how tech savvy they are, while providing an informative experience that most people have never experienced.
Another successful implementation is a VR video as a teaser for a much larger advertising campaign. This involves creating a 20-30 second VR experience to tease another, much longer, standard video. We have noticed that while viewers love the interactive experience of VR content, they tend to tire of it quickly and tune out, so we use it as a lead-in to a more detailed video that will be more engaging.
We Are Handsome 360/VR Catwalk Experience
VeeR: What are your designs in enhancing viewer engagement in VR commercials? Any plans of adding interactive features to your videos down the line?
Scott: We are certainly interested in adding more interactive components to our videos. In fact, we are one of the pioneers in the interactive video space here in Australia. In 2016, we created our own interactive video platform that can create unique, personalized videos based on an existing database in seconds. Using this same platform, we have been experimenting with adding personalized and interactive features to 360/VR videos. We’re just searching for the right project in which to implement it.
Sony, VeeR, Virtual Reality, Visual Domain