Recently, Bottle Rocket Media won a Telly Award for creating a 360° video tour of WeWork’s New York offices. We spoke with Brett Singer, one of the production company’s founders, about their experience working with 360° video. Here’s what we learned:
1. Understand that in 360°, the viewer is essentially the director.
When you think about the story you want to tell in 360°, you have to consider the fact that you will have less control over where the viewer looks. While you know the scope of what they are able to see, putting them in an interactive space can complicate the traditional storytelling techniques that you’re used to.
“Sometimes there are moments that clients want to have in a video, where we have to say that it is going to feel different in 360° and here’s why….I can’t guarantee someone is not looking the other way. We can use graphics and sound to direct them, but there’s always the possibility that the viewer, who is essentially the director, is looking in the wrong direction.”
— Brett Singer, Principal, Director, and Creative at Bottle Rocket Media
2. Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes.
One of the wonderful aspects of 360° video is that if you place yourself where the camera will be placed on set, you can look around and know exactly what the viewer will see. Just like you, the viewer will be able to see everything, and you should let this inform the story.
“With any video we make, we want to be thoughtful of the story we’re telling, and figure out the best way to tell that story — whether it’s traditional video or 360° video. In the case of WeWork, we did the interviews first, and that helped inform the story we wanted to tell, where we wanted to shoot, and what people we wanted to see interacting in that space. It’s easy to imagine what the viewers are going to feel because you’re standing there looking around and that’s exactly what it’s going to look like in 360°.”
3. You need to be flexible with how the story is told.
Brett told us that sometimes clients and producers will come to him with set ideas about what they want in 360°, while others come in asking for help. Either way, the most important part of the producers and creators working together is communicating and being open to testing out new ideas.
“When WeWork engaged with us, they like many people, had just seen 360° videos and knew it was something cool and something to experiment with. So we proposed ideas to them on how best to tell the story in 360° to meet their needs. Their need at the time was to share the new Times Square space, and see what the reaction would be to showing off WeWork in a 360° context. Together we figured it out. They were very open to exploring together and figuring out what worked best in the story we were going to tell.”
4. Be bold and open to experimentation.
Since it’s still a new medium that filmmakers are experimenting with, view 360° as an experience you’ll also learn and grow from.
“Any advice I’d give a producer who wants to get into it, would certainly be to start watching a lot of 360° videos and make notes about what you like and don’t like. It’s always helpful as a creative, to notice what part of a video inspired the client. It’s challenging to have a vision for what the end product will look like unless you do this stuff for a living….It’s fun to be in a space where you’re creating, experimenting, and making terrible videos because that’s all there is right now.
We’re learning from every single project we do. It’s so early in this space that anybody that professes to be a sage expert in 360° is crazy. That’s part of the fun in all this. While I love the videos we’ve made, it’s possible that someone’s going to make one better. You just have to be open to the possibilities.”
5. Producers have to adapt quickly to the constantly evolving technology.
Bottle Rocket Media shot the WeWork 360° video in October with a seven camera GoPro rig. However, the technology is changing so fast, that they’ve already discarded that rig and learned to use a whole new one that has four lenses.
“We initially got a GoPro rig with seven cameras, then we had a two-camera Kodak rig, and since then we’ve gotten two four-lens single cameras. We don’t use the GoPros anymore. The technology has changed just over the last year and continues to change — in terms of the quality of cameras, the quality of systems, resolution, flexibility. So it’s a very active space. Technology wise and equipment wise, we’re just adapting. We love our new camera system.”
But don’t worry, you won’t have to take on the 360° production by yourself. WeWork used Storyhunter to find and commission Bottle Rocket Media to produce the 360° video tour. We also offer more full-service 360° video production and virtual reality companies for hire like Bottle Rocket Media.