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A Year in Virtual Insanity: Gear Rises

header image source: www.oculus.com/go/

Jamiroquai’s 1996 hit song recently echoed through our Chicago office and the hair on the back of our collective, nostalgic neck stood up. We all felt the relevance.

Now more than ever, we are living in “Virtual Insanity.” Immersed in new technology. A portal to another world is most likely in your hand or your pocket right now—we mean your smartphone.

Perhaps the most “insane” example of the digital explosion is the recent rise of VR gear. With a just a headset and an Internet connection, users are learning valuable career skills, traveling to far off locales, and experiencing new products like never before. As Bottle Media’s co-founder, Dan Fisher, recently remarked so astutely, “This sh*t ain’t slowing down any time soon!”

As a video agency, we have been embracing 360 video production in our own work for a few years now. While we like to think we have gotten pretty good at creating a virtual experience, we are not too proud to take cues from the creative examples that have emerged in just the last year alone:

Training: Why tell someone how to do their job when you can literally SHOW them? Eliminating the need for additional training staff, businesses are finally waking up to the benefits of immersive video technology, a cost-effective solution to introduce a wide range of challenging scenarios for employees learn from. Heard of Oculus Go? Only two years old, the leading industry brand has already been tapped by giant, Wal-Mart, for 17 thousand of its wireless standalone units to help train one million workers in customer service and new technologies beginning this fall. Less hassles at Wal-Mart? Count us in!

Meanwhile… it was only a matter of time before the gung-ho military and police forces would have their way with VR gear. And why not? Taking simulations to the next level, VR is helping to keep our bravest sharp and abreast of the latest assault and defense tactics. According to a piece in Forbes, an emerging name in VR gear, Virtra – currently being used at the L.A. county Sheriff’s Department – is “much more realistic than range training,” and less expensive than hiring actors to play both criminals and innocent civilians.

Education: Teachers across the country are learning the incredible educational benefits of bringing gear into elementary schools. Thanks to Google Earth VR and Google Expeditions, for example, students can virtually explore parts of the world in 3D—without ever leaving the classroom. And, for the more advanced STEM scholar, there are now solutions out from companies like Unity Technologies and Labster VR that create immersive experiences in virtual laboratories and medical settings to help prepare our future doctors and scientists.

Oh—and ever wish you could take a bus to Mars? Well, now kids from K-12 can, thanks to the brains behind Lockheed Martin and Framestore VR studio. Complete with virtual windows to the red planet and motion sensitive technologies, students are experiencing what it would feel like to ride through 250 square miles of a landscape millions of miles away from Earth. What’s next? Venus? Saturn? New Jersey? The possibilities are endless!

Product Introduction and Promotion: VR gear now represents the most intimate pathway for consumers to get up close and personal with products and services of all kinds. One need only look at the success of the Ikea Virtual Store to understand just how far virtual shopping has come. From the comfort of any home or office, VR gear users can “stroll” through actual store aisles and showrooms without the worry of pedestrian foot traffic, long checkout lines, or hunting down employees for assistance. If only Toys ‘R’ Us had thought of that!

Finally, Macy’s has truly jumped on the VR bandwagon by supplying 70 of its stores with headsets to make it possible for customers to explore out of-stock items and actually visualize them in their own offices and dwellings!!  According to CNBC.com, “In the beauty department, Macy’s is in the process of adding virtual mirrors to some of its U.S. stores where shoppers can ‘try on’ lipsticks and eye shadows.”  Mind blown, yet?

Whether connecting with students, employees, or consumers, VR-gear has become the most personalized vehicle yet—bringing a 3D world of knowledge directly to the user, without the need to take a single step.

And the “insanity” continues…

Been a while since you listened to Jamiroqaui’s “Virtual Insanity?” Check the official music video here (you’re welcome!).

Looking for a well-branded video solution? Click here to share in our groove.

The Difference Between VR and 360

We are often asked, “What’s the difference between VR and 360?”

While the terms are often used interchangeably, they are different.

First, let’s talk about what 360 and Virtual Reality do have in common:

What’s 360 Video?

360-degree video has transformed the way we can capture and share environments. By using high-tech cameras with multiple lenses (like this one we used on this project) we can simultaneously record in every direction, creating an immersive video that viewers can interact with in real time by simply moving their head in the direction they want to see. 360 videos have gained enormous popularity. They’re more engaging than static videos or photos and they let viewers independently control what they see. And they are hot on social. Check out this blog from last year on why you need 360 on Facebook.

What is Virtual Reality (VR) Video?

Getting a little technical here, the term “Virtual Reality” is used to describe a three-dimensional, computer-generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. This person becomes part of the virtual world, or, is immersed within this environment and is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions. Phew, that’s a lot. Bottom line is, VR aims to create a totally immersive experience. The viewer is taken into an artificial environment and can interact in this virtual-world in very real ways.

So, what is the difference between VR and 360 video?

Vimeo.com spelled it out pretty clearly: Think of it like this — with 360 video, you’re in the passenger seat of a car. The driver represents the filmmaker, who creates a stunning experience and invites you along for the ride. You can look around from your seat and enjoy the curated scenery. With VR, you are behind the wheel, deciding where you want to go. While it may seem like more control is awesome, it is not the same kind of experience filmmakers and viewers are seeking, and that’s why VR is most often used in video game or simulation systems.

Interested in creating an immersive, interactive video? Contact Bottle Rocket Media and we’ll help you create a stunning one-of-a-kind video experience to transport your viewers wherever your heart desires.

Project Shout-Out: “Power Move” for The Atlantic’s Re:think

Using 360 Virtual Reality to Capture the Future of Clean Energy

We’re longtime fans of The Atlantic’s journalism and their innovative approach to storytelling. So when their marketing arm, Re:think, asked us to help with a highly technical video project showcasing Siemens’ work to modernize energy systems, we jumped at the opportunity. Teaming up with two amazing Re:think producers (Sarah Sherman and Danielle Elliot) we shot for 6 days over a couple weeks in 3 cities across the U.S., marrying our expertise in 360 video production with our skillful use of drone technology. Once we finished shooting and the Re:think team shared their interviews, we got to post-produce all of the pieces in this package, adding motion graphics and a custom spatial audio mix for an awesome finished product.

 

“Power Move” Q&A with Brett Singer

What was the vision and inspiration behind the “Power Move” video series you made in partnership with The Atlantic?

“Power Move” features three cities that are using innovative energy solutions to supply power to their citizens. We knew that the plants themselves weren’t photogenic in the traditional sense, but the scenery around each remote site was amazing. We wanted to use that contrast to our advantage and create something visually dynamic that showcased the size and scope of each plant, and how they’re connected to the natural environments around them.

Why was this project a 360 video series versus a traditional HD video series? Did you have to do anything differently to capture such vast expanses of land?

The Atlantic team approached us after pitching Siemens on making these videos 360 experiences. During the series we’d visit power grid control centers, massive solar farms, and top-of-the-line waste treatment facilities. The Atlantic team wisely thought that 360 video would give the viewer a true VIP pass into these highly guarded, innovative public works spaces. For the 500 acre solar farm, shooting it exclusively from the ground wouldn’t capture just how massive and powerful it is: we needed a bird’s eye view. Using drone technology, we were able to capture the full scope of it all. We also used drones over two other towns as dramatic establishing shots to literally give us the lay of the land of our story.

Does combining 360 video technology with drone recording present any unique challenges?

We love drone footage. Done well, it’s spectacular. We’ve been experimenting with combining drone technology and 360 video for a while. We love experimenting with new tools and get excited any time a project comes along that lets us push the limits of what new filmmaking techniques can do. For each location we connected with a different drone operator. Like us, they’d been playing in the 360 space and had designed their own 360 camera gimbals that were mounted to their drones to ensure a smooth picture during a bumpy flight.

What elements contributed to the effectiveness of the storytelling in these videos?

The teams that managed these power sources are so incredibly dedicated to their jobs and their communities. Their interviews combined with the stunning visuals took this project to the next level.

How did your approach to this video help to communicate the significance and scope of these energy innovations?

Each video opens with gorgeous shots of the towns and communities these energy services impact. It gives the viewer a better understanding of how many people rely on these innovations to live their day-to-day lives. After that, the interviews and the footage from the plants drove it home. It’s fascinating to hear from the people that built and operate these facilities, or designed solutions that helped create these critical community facilities.

Did any obstacles come up while making this video? If so, how did you work around them?

Luckily, we had a pretty smooth go with this project. The people at Re:think and Siemen were so great to work with, they made our jobs easy.

What was your favorite part of the project and why?

Using innovative video tech to talk about innovative energy tech. Making this video really felt like taking a glimpse into the future. These solutions are not hypothetical anymore: I was there and I saw just how effective they can be. These are real solutions that should be replicated across the world.

Did you learn anything about clean energy during this project that surprised you?

Anything? More like everything. I never thought I’d say that hanging out at a waste treatment facility was cool. I’ve been spitting out clean energy facts left and right since we wrapped.

Interactive 360 Video Project Shout-Out: Cocktails With Becci

Using 360 Virtual Reality To Make Videos Interactive

Cocktail how-to videos aren’t exactly a groundbreaking way to promote a mixologist or the bar where they work. It’s a stagnant, standard formula: a static frame around the bartender, shot from the waist up, watching a drink be assembled ingredient by ingredient. We decided to break the mold with our cocktail how-to series focused on Becci, the star drink-slinger at Autre Monde in Berwyn, Illinois, whose fun, outgoing personality can’t be tamed. As big-time fans of 360 video and the many creative ways filmmakers can use it, we leapt at the opportunity to turn the standard how-to on its head with interactive film and content.

“Cocktails with Becci” Q&A with Brett Singer

What was the vision and inspiration behind the “Cocktails with Becci” series?

We made this series during our early days of experimenting with 360 video production. We wanted to create a series of videos that was fun, interesting and educational, and really see how much we could do with this new medium. Weeks before we decided to make the videos I had sat in nearly in that exact same seat at the bar, watching Becci mix up a delicious Sazerac for me, and thought, this is kind of a cool moment. Maybe it’s worth exploring.

How did you come up with the idea to use interactive 360 video technology for this series, and how does it take this series beyond the standard “bartender how-to” archetype?

As a 360 video creator, you’re always thinking about projects and ideas that would benefit from this new medium. I like watching smart, creative people do their craft. I think there’s magic there. I don’t care if you’re an artist, a gaffer, a plumber, or a bartender—I like watching people do physical jobs well. They make it look easy. But most how-to videos don’t capture that whole experience of seeing someone flex their muscle inside their creative spaces. Watching Becci mix ingredients is interesting, but to also capture how at ease she feels in this environment, and what it feels like to watch her do her thing from a perch on a barstool, paints a much better picture of how I felt that first day sitting at her bar. And, you get to learn how to make a drink, too!

What elements contributed to the effectiveness of the storytelling?

I think Becci is the most effective storytelling element. She’s a wildly experienced bartender who teaches classes on mixology and is effortless in front of the camera. I’ve sat for hours just watching her work and it’s incredible. Her work is complex, and fast, and she does it with grace. She’s the best.

I also think adding the second close-up camera is a cool detail. In 360 you often want to lean in, or zoom into moments, and you can’t. This technique allowed us to use both the 360 space and a close-up camera to stitch together a truly immersive experience.

How do you think your approach to this video helped to capture the unique elements of Becci’s personal style and the Autre Monde brand?

Any video with only one person in it will obviously, for better or worse, highlight their personality and put a spotlight literally and figuratively on them. Becci has a huge personality and a massive smile. For the most part we just got out of her way because we knew she’d knock it out of the park.

Did any obstacles come up while making this video? If so, how did you work around them?

Honestly, no. It was smooth sailing and happened so fast (we did one take per video) that we should have planned better and done 6-10 videos. But we literally shot them all in about 30 minutes.

What was your favorite part of the project and why?

The feedback we’ve gotten from the videos has been great. Super positive, and everyone seems to enjoy them. So, that’s always good. Plus we got to do some great day drinking.

Do you have a favorite cocktail from Becci’s series?

I’m a whiskey drinker, and I like a classic, well made Old Fashioned, with great bourbon.

Give Your Viewers an Immersive VIP Tour With 360 Video

How a peek behind the scenes can give your audience engagement a major boost

No one can resist a “behind the scenes” tour, and 360 videos provide the perfect opportunity to give viewers a rare experience without having to leave their couch. For brands, 360 video tours are the perfect way to connect with viewers. If you’re hosting an event or spotlighting a cool venue, a 360 video tour can give your customers an interactive look inside their favorite company. Here’s how to make them work for you.

Finding the Right Time and Place

The best candidate for a 360 video tour is an exclusive event or a space your viewers wouldn’t normally get to explore. Look for locations with excitement from all sides, like a movie set, a colorful cultural event or a rare tour of a stunning home. The most important part of a video tour is offering your viewers a new experience. WeWork used a 360 video tour to showcase its unique coworking space in New York, offering its followers a glimpse of Times Square as well as a tour of their lively workspace that only members can usually enjoy. Access to that workspace is what they’re selling, and their tour gave potential customers a peek inside, while also highlighting the brand’s personality. E! News recently took readers inside reality star and model Kendall Jenner’s closet—a place they’ve never seen and would never be able to explore if not for the 360 tour.

When It’s The Wrong Time and Place

Not every story needs to be told with a 360 video tour, and the strongest candidates complement the message your brand is trying to share. If you’re not sure whether a 360 video tour is right for your event or location, consider what a guest would see and think if you gave them free rein to wander the space. The scene should have multiple points of interaction all around the room. If there isn’t an abundance of detail for viewers to explore, or if the story has a single focal point, a traditional video with a narrow focus might be better.

Plan The Story AND The Scene

Start your 360 video tour project by thinking about the video’s mission, audience and story. If you’re going skydiving, you don’t just want to show viewers a shot of you falling through the sky. Talk to the skydivers as they’re prepping inside the plane before the jump. In addition to mapping a narrative, you should also plan out the whole 360 degree scene. Make the most of your space, and invite your subject to move around and interact with their surroundings. Remove anything you wouldn’t want viewers to see—a messy desk, a poster with questionable language—and arrange props any you want use or highlight during the video.

If you’re thinking of telling your brand’s story with a 360 video tour, contact Bottle Rocket Media for help creating a stunning one-of-a-kind video experience. You name the place, and we’ll transport your audience there.

Bottle Rocket Media’s Success at The 38th Annual Telly Awards

A look at our awards for 360, political commentary, biography, and marketing videos

Time for a quick brag session. Bottle Rocket Media is now the proud owner of not one, not two, but five awards from the 38th annual Telly Awards. That’s three more than last year, and we are so honored and PROUD of our team for all the amazing, creative work they’ve produced over the last 365. Here’s a look at the projects that won big for us this year.

Season 38 Telly Awards Bronze for Branded Content & Entertainment in Craft-Virtual Reality / 360

https://bottlerocketmedia.wistia.com/medias/w9wq9n4v9m?embedType=async&seo=false&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=360

What better excuse to use 360 than to show the world how WeWork is taking the concept of the shared workspace to a new level. If the beautiful space doesn’t hook you, the amazing people at the helm of WeWork will. The second best part about this project: Getting to spend time in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Season 38 Telly Awards Bronze for Video / Shows / Segments in Craft-Virtual Reality / 360

https://bottlerocketmedia.wistia.com/medias/sok8ig0p3x?embedType=async&seo=false&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=360

With 360 video, being courtside has never felt more, well, courtside. We got to go to the opposite coast for this one, and Venice Beach did not disappoint. Don’t take our word for it: Check out these 360-degree dunks.

Season 38 Telly Awards Bronze for Video / Shows / Segments in General-Political/Commentary

https://bottlerocketmedia.wistia.com/medias/eg6g05aqm9?embedType=async&seo=false&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=360

Given our country’s political landscape over the last year, we wanted to make sure this project was educational and drove home the importance of voting in the 2016 presidential election. Shout-out to Bryan for taking his motion graphics game to the next level. This video wouldn’t be

Season 38 Telly Awards Bronze for Commercials / Marketing in General-Not-for-profit

https://bottlerocketmedia.wistia.com/medias/fushotz6lt?embedType=async&seo=false&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=360

Every child deserves a toy, so we decided to let the kids explain why in this production for the Toy Industry Foundation. Nothing tops the honesty of a young child, which is what makes this video so genuine. This project will always be a favorite for the entire team at Bottle Rocket Media.

Season 38 Telly Awards Bronze for Non-Broadcast Productions in General-Biography

https://bottlerocketmedia.wistia.com/medias/1krfcno4cn?embedType=async&seo=false&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=360

Nurses are very special people. Not only are they some of the most compassionate people around, they also radiate kindness. That is exactly what we wanted to portray in this piece for Horizon Pharma, and there was no better way to do that than with a series of one-on-one interviews to give the audience a first-hand account of just how inspiring these men and women are. We love this project, and we are so happy to know the Tellys did too.

Let us show you what it’s like to work with a Telly Award winning production team. Contact Bottle Rocket Media today.

360 Video and Your Brand

One guy’s take on why everyone should be utilizing 360-degree video

Good news for people who like good news about video technology! New research says that 30% of consumer-facing companies in the Forbes Global 2000 will experiment with virtual reality as part of their 2017 marketing efforts. In other words, brands are finally starting to take the 360-degree/VR plunge. Don’t sit back and watch these big-name companies do all the dabbling and get all the attention. Anyone can create these digital masterpieces, and everyone should be giving it a try. Here’s why.

4 reasons every brand should be using 360 video

Giving 360-degree video a try shows that a brand wants—and is willing—to do what it takes to keep up with current marketing trends. Tackle it now and you’ll be prepared for when 2020 rolls around, where it is estimated that over one billion people worldwide will regularly access VR content. Chances are you’re going to want to reach last least one or two of those people.

To learn more about Bottle Rocket Media, our video production services, or how we differ because of our Rocket Sauce, connect with us on FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn!

Bottle Rocket Media’s 2016 Project Roundup

Engage your employees with a standout video

While Human Resources departments and upper management teams spend a lot of time and money looking for ways to keep people enthused about the place where they spend 40+ hours a week, mandatory lunch-and-learns and monthly team building outings aren’t always fruitful. So how do you provide an environment that inspires people to stay passionate about their work, the people with whom they work, and the company’s overall mission? Enter, the training video.

Spotlight on Training Videos

What are they? Training videos can be used for employee onboarding, making company-wide updates or announcements, or as a vehicle for providing training on a new product or initiative. Depending on the purpose, videos can be presented in a series or as a standalone piece, and HR departments can house them on the company intranet or employee portal so people who work remotely or travel for the company still have access. Consider them a fresh take on a that giant PowerPoint every new hire pretends to read, or those videos about employee safety and harassment in the workplace, a la 1980.

Why do they work so well? Every company needs onboarding and training, and video oftentimes connects with people better than written communication. Videos articulate the same, consistent message to everyone, with some added flair and creativity. Since the videos are kept on an internal server or portal, everyone has constant access whenever they want or need it. And when employees have all the necessary resources at their fingertips, engagement skyrockets. A bonus for HR and management: making your own training videos is extremely affordable compared to some of the other corporate online training programs out there.

Our work with Walgreens. Bottle Rocket Media was fortunate to work with Walgreens to develop a library of videos to support their employee training during their company’s conversion to Lean Methodologies. They needed content and a strategy to help introduce their employees to this new process, and video was the perfect solution. We came up with The Lean Journey, a video that followed a group of employees as they learned about Kaizen and how to implement the concept at Walgreens. This helped to kick-start change across hundreds of internal events by engaging employees before their training experience officially started, and celebrating the success that followed.

A Gallup poll from 2015 found that only 32% of US employees were “engaged” at their jobs, while a whopping 50.8% were considered “not engaged,” and 17.2% “actively disengaged”. As these less than glowing statistics show, building and retaining employee engagement across an entire company can be a tall order. If training videos are something you would like to explore for your business, we’d love to meet with you to learn about your company and help you start building a standout video library. Take a look at some of the work we’ve done for other clients, and then contact Bottle Rocket Media today to get started.