The Concept

For my first blog post I want to address the “why?”. Why put time and energy into building a new piece of gear rather than using what already exists? There are a tremendous number of camera rigs on the market for shooting 360 stereo video. It is also a market that is evolving rapidly with new camera systems announced regularly. Why get involved in the melee?

The why as a filmmaker

We’ve already heard VR called the empathy machine. For the last decade I have worked as a freelance filmmaker based in New York City. As storytellers we strive to generate a sense of empathy in our work. I have directed and shot a range of projects from music videos to commercials, short films to feature films, and in every moment of creating the work I do I am questioning how it makes me feel. Does it feel honest?

Immersive experiences engage our senses much more intensely than tradition cinema. Just like film created the illusion of motion by exploiting our persistence of vision, immersive VR experiences engage with our awareness of place and arrest our sense of reality in a wholly new way. There is too much overlap between our end goal as filmmakers and the capabilities of VR for the prospects to be ignored.

I knew that I wanted to explore the creative possibility in VR, but why make a camera rig? The first opportunity I saw was the price. I knew that I wanted to shoot in stereo 360 and all of the systems available were expensive. Buy a camera mount and the dozen GoPros to fill the array and you are easily spending beyond $5k. The post processes also seemed incredibly complex. It was the wild west and none of the available options seemed affordable or elegant. They also all appeared to be focused around capturing reality as the eyes see it but had not accounted for adjustable interaxial. Every rig I saw held cameras in a rigid array. What about creative adjustments?

Initial observations:

  • Stereo 360 camera rigs are large and expensive.
  • Most existing rigs have no adjustable interaxial distances.
  • Post processing will ultimately be complex when recording from six or more cameras in an array.