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The Future of VR/AR Q&A Sessions. Part 2.

VR / AR is an area continuing to grow in the Film & Motion industry. I’m putting together a series of interviews with prominent studios who are leading the way in VR/AR development. The sorts of things I’ll be looking to probe are: how VR and AR work, how the industry is evolving and what the future holds!

Here is my second interview in the series, with Greg Furber – CD at Rewind.

Q&A with Greg Furber – CD at Rewind

Tell us about yourself, and how you got to where you are today…

I’m Creative director at Rewind where I joined 4 years ago. Before that, was I working in Commercials and Animatics as a Director, working on feature films in story departments, and I kind of just drifted into it (VR / AR). Rewind were very much doing VR in the early days, but we were finding our feet in the space. Fast forward to now and we are doing VR 360 videos and post production on ads and lots of creative tech. Over time, the company has grown; when I joined we were 14 employees and now we’re 45-50 people. Since then, the industry has gone from being ‘oh this is interesting’ to actually being a real thing, and we’ve been there as it’s changed! So this is kind of how it’s been.

With VR and AR how different is it to designing for traditional flat screens?

It’s completely different. Same tools but totally different. In 2D you can cut around, you can start on a wide, come in close, control the camera; the stuff that adds movement in frame.
With 360 and VR, if it’s a 360 video it’s a fixed camera position, but you’ve got the whole frame to work with, so cutting that way doesn’t work.

In real time VR gaming, the players and the camera can move how they want. They have to do stuff that lives inside the screen inside the world. It’s a completely different visual language, you don’t have a frame that defines it like you do with 2D.

What are the difficulties with that?

Doing it good! It varies a lot. So many different things can be the challenge. It can be that the client has no idea about the visual language associated with it, which is a big thing! Different rules apply – one hundred something years of 2D in the bag, and VR has about 5 years…at best! The main challenges are that some of the tools aren’t as developed, the mindset of who you’re delivering to always has a play, and also the people making it – still not knowing what can be done or what works really.

When you do that brief, what would you say are the main limitations within VR?

I mean, the way we work is that we are selective. We have clients who we have strong relationships with and have worked with for years, so we can tell them it’s not gonna work at the get go. The way we get round it, is not being in a place where it’s a problem. Sometimes it’s just showing them it doesn’t work, showing a different solution. However there’s some stuff we genuinely don’t know if it will work or not. If it does…great!

What’s the best piece of VR or Immersive work you’ve seen?

VR? Ever? Erm…there’s a few projects I’ve done that I’m personally proud of for different reasons.

360 filming we did a piece where the stunt guy does a blind back flip over a Formula E car doing 100KM/H, cus he’s an idiot! Basically, the car comes hurtling along, and at exactly 5.64 seconds he casually does a backflip over the car. Everyone cheers ‘cus he didn’t die! That was amazing as it was one of the best shoots I’ve ever been on. It was made using both 2D film and 360 film. There was a massive debate as to whether he had done it for real or not, and if he’d cheated? I knew he hadn’t ‘cus I was there, but the 360 video came out and the whole conversation changed around it. People knew it was real and it went viral, it changed and shaped the entire thing. Just added a whole extra layer to the work.

Also a piece I did for HBO the programme Silicon Valley, ‘Inside the Hacker Hostel’ (http://rewind.co/portfolio/silicon-valley-inside-the-hacker-hostel-htc-vive/). We created an experience in line with Silicon Valley which had 756 points of interaction throughout it, like touchpoints. Things such as if you drink something you ‘get drunk’. There’s an entire story mode behind it too. We worked with showrunners of the actual show and got a whole scripted experience that was made using the talent from the show. A project where HBO trusted us and the show brought into it, they gave us access to the set etc, we even went to LA and got shortlisted for an Emmy!

Is that a social experience?

That’s single player. We have done up to 50 people in the same VR experience before though. It’s challenging but simple in it’s own way. Taking infrastructure you would for any game and applying it. We did it with live broadcasters for a car launch in LA where we had 65 people in the same VR experience in their own pod, and each pod the same point of view on the world and you had presenters who were presenting this new Jaguar car, and they were being filmed on a live broadcast in different rooms, which were being streamed as a live experience.

And on the VR headset side…

It’s a single player thing. It depends, if something like the game ‘Fortnite’ is social that you play, then VR is social. If playing online with your friends isn’t social, then VR isn’t. VR is already social, it’s purely down to the experience that you’re playing. It’s the same as a video game. If you consider online multi-player games social, then yes. If not, then probably not no.  

How would you start in the field today with more courses and tools available than ever, and what advice would you give?

It’s such a massive thing, it’s like someone reinvented TV. It’s been used for so many different things, we’ve done loads, but realistically done less than a percent of what’s possible.

Advice to start with, look on SnapChat, they have their own lens studio. It’s simple but you can make stuff pretty quickly, have a go.

Basically, play around with it! It’s so accessible now. See what works, see what doesn’t. You could end up making something that goes viral!

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