Last Summer I spent some time mentoring —and taking advantage of— Adam Hersko-Ronatas, my intern from Brown University at Wevr. As a gifted filmmaker interested in VR, he worked in almost all the productions we were running at the time, positively influencing every single one of them. And he was even able to find the time to produce his own VR film called Parched, that has been selected for a couple of festivals already, like the Ivy Film Festival at Brown University and the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle.
Adam’s accomplishments are well deserved, and I’m grateful that he invited me to spend last weekend at Brown University talking about VR as a medium for storytelling. I met a lot of great people, and I had a few interesting conversations with music composer Germaine Franco, Senior Editor Graham Roberts from the New York Times and Adam Blumenthal, VR artist in residence at Brown University. I spent most of my time at The Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, and amazing building with lots of interesting art and media stuff in it. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about the MIT Media Lab while I was there
A new EP from Rest in Haste featuring my cover art comes out this month, and it will exist in the physical world as a limited edition Compact Disc! I can’t wait to get some copies in the mailbox. Listen to the single Don’t Play Dead and buy this record.
Wevr just made available on Transport a couple of pieces I directed last year featuring David Choe‘s band Mangchi performing live at Viva! Pomona. This is pretty cool. We used the Google/Gopro Jump Odyssey camera system and post production software that —I can’t stress this enough— completely takes away the pains we used to experience while post processing footage for stereoscopic equirectangular video. Basically you film your stuff with your 16 camera rig, upload the footage to the Google cloud jump service, and get back perfectly beautiful stereoscopic equirectangular footage ready to be enhanced with a traditional postproduction workflow. No more countless hours stitching together every camera.
In addition to this, David and Mangchi let us put our cameras anywhere we wanted —something uncommon when capturing a live performance, since the best location for a VR 360 camera is always right where somebody wants to be. Thanks to this we managed to capture the heart at the madness that only Mangchi can deliver and inspire on their audience. From their backstage naked body-painting rituals to privileged spots on the stage and the middle of the mosh pit, we get you as close as you can get to experiencing the raw power of this eclectic band at its fullest, loudest, and most colorful.
Wevr just released a major update to the Transport VR platform that includes a subscription system and an overhaul of a portion of the user interface. @djabatt and I collaborated with the design team at Wevr to create a first user experience inspired by our favorite color palette and the fabulous downtown bridges at the LA river, as well as this cool Transport Teaser edited by Zach Hansen. Go check it out if you have a VR headset.
I just got a new toy to make living VR ghosts using digital samples of real people in motion. Depthkit works with a Kinect sensor and a Canon DSLR camera. My current workflow uses the Depthkit Capture and Visualize software, Adobe AfterEffects, and Unity for room-scale game engine playback on a HTC Vive system. It’s a pain in the ass but really fun.
We partnered with Youtube to produce a VR piece with The Gregory Brothers about the 2017 USA election race. The Gregory Brothers are awesome and they invented Auto-tune the News. It was quite a challenge to port their distinctive style to 360 video and I don’t thing we would have been able to do it if we didn’t have a Google Jump Odyssey system with us. It gave us the freedom to concentrate on staging and performance and it allowed us to come up with some pretty crazy stereoscopic 360 visual effects.
The basic idea was to turn a presidential debate into a rap battle, and the rest I’ll leave to your imagination. I’ll just say that there is some serious Terminator style electrical madness combined with the most insane Break Dance I’ve ever seen performed by somebody over fifty years old. I literally had to stop the shoot at some point because it was getting dangerous. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on what that means. You can feel the tension when you watch it. Can’t wait to work on more stuff like this.
[Update] Here is the final piece that got released on election day:
Time-Life just launched their LifeVR app featuring a 360 video piece I directed called Fast Ride. A few months ago I spent a day with my colleagues from Wevr in a race track in Laguna Seca where the Mazda racing team took out all their vintage cars for a spin like they do every year. J. H. Harper wrote an in-depth piece about the event for The Verge that explains everything about this amazing cars.
The following picture shows pilot Jeremy Barnes tagging along for a fast ride with himself just after he finished his real-life lap. It was a lot more intense for him to be the passenger in VR than to be the pilot in real life
I’ve been working on some new cover art for the Psychedelic Rock band Rest in Haste. I am not done yet, but some interesting things are coming out. I will be posting full resolution updates in my Rest in Haste Flickr album.