Letter from the author

Letter from the Author


August, 2017

Hello! You’re joining me at a climactic point in my nearly 3-decade-long journey into the world of virtual reality production. My interests were first piqued about this technology in 1990, but it’s only been in the last few years that the tools have reached a level of accessibility to make it realistic for independent filmmakers and storytellers like myself to embrace it. Still, there are myriad challenges and obstacles to success.

About two years ago I set out to create a narrative, cinematic story told in VR. Facebook had purchased Oculus for 2 billion dollars, Google had released the Cardboard headsets, and there was a lot of buzz that this timeit was going to work. The time had finally come: VR was going to reach critical mass.

And so, I set about trying to learn the mechanics of the technology; to learn how video production was different in the round than it was for flat cinema; and to discover what new obstacles to post production were heralded by this new medium.

The more I investigated, the more I found that guidance on these topics was incomplete or incoherent, contradictory or over-complicated, and anything comprehensive was created by individual camera manufacturers and only covered specific workflows.

I longed for a resource that was focused more on the why than the how, something that was platform agnostic (and so appropriately unbiased), and while it’s impossible to ignore the technical details, I wanted something that gave those factors a backseat to the issues of artistic and creative approach.

In writing The 360° Video Handbook I tested cameras, hardware, and software, in controlled environments and in production. I also interviewed dozens of key players in the virtual reality world to document best practices on topics such as:

·      What works in 360° / VR production and what doesn’t?
·      Where it is similar to traditional 2D cinema production?
·      How can VR borrow from theatrical production craft?
·      What is the technology like to work with?
·      How much do virtual reality productions cost?

The technology that supports 360° video production continues to develop quickly, and the artists creating such content are still inventing the rules and idioms of this new language. Therefore, this book too will have to evolve and change and I plan to update it frequently to keep it relevant and helpful. But the bulk of the content in the book is not product-specific and so will hopefully remain useful, even as new software or new cameras enable you to streamline or simplify different aspects of the process.