PROJECT: SPEAK UP - INVESTORS
CLIENT: NON PROFIT ORGANISATION
Stereoscopic 360 video filming
Spatial audio recording
Location scouting and filming
Green screen production
Preparing individuals for corporate negotiations within the safety of the virtual world.
An immersive tour of some of the most iconic historic locations within Oxford.
A virtual walk through before the structural build begins.
With the global pandemic of COVID-19 affecting every part of the production world and social distancing now the norm, the simplest of set ups has become a real challenge. Filming people together in a room without PPE requires distance between subjects and prior isolation in order to guarantee safety of cast and crew whilst filming a crowd in an indoor space is simply a non-starter.
With these constraints in place, this was the challenge faced when tasked with capturing live action content for an immersive VR training app. The content covered a variety of different scenarios placing the user in a public speaking situation, such as a job interview or presentation. Varying in scale from a one on one to an auditorium packed full of spectators, each scenario would be play out in a manner in which the user would either interact with someone within the scene, for example answering questions during an interview, or delivering a presentation. Each of these scenarios were designed to allow the user to practice their public speaking skills in a safe and risk-free environment built to challenge but support the user’s efforts.
In the first of three technically challenging scenarios, two actors needed to enter a room together, sit next to each other on a small sofa and interact with each other as they acted through the scene as angel investors listening to a pitch put forward by the user. In a world pre COVID, this would be a straightforward set up simply recording the action as it plays out.
For the two actors to be brought together on screen in the final output, it necessitated them being filmed individually and on separate sides of the room setup. In camera, the room was divided into two halves of action with the mid-point established by a line marked down the centre of the sofa where the action would take place.
As the camera rolled, the first actor entered the room from the right, made their way to the sofa and sat down on the end of the sofa within their half. Off camera at a safe socially distanced position, the second actor delivered the dialogue that would begin the scene and provide the relevant cues for the actor on the sofa to react to such as delivering their lines but also behavioral cues when they weren’t speaking such as looking across the sofa as if they were sat right next to their colleague. By using the off-screen actor, the conversational nature of the dialogue between the two principles was carefully constructed to feel natural and free flowing on camera. On finishing the dialogue and heralding the end of the scene, the actor on the sofa stood and made an exit back toward the way they had entered.
As well as the principle 360 camera, the entire sequence was also recorded via a tablet mounted on a tripod situated on the opposite end of the sofa in the non-essential half of the room, capturing the scene from the point of view of the second actor.
This additional off camera recording was essential as with the first actor captured, the turn of the second actor began with all the action taking place in the left side of the room set up. The tablet was once again placed on the opposite side of the sofa where the first actor had sat and then to synchronize the timing of the performance with that of the first actor, from entrance, interaction and exit, the additional footage of the entire scene was played back for the second actor to reference and play off.
Adding to the complexity of the scenario, the scene would require each of the actors when not delivering their dialogue to adopt an idle position in which they would remain in a neutral position and look to the camera as if engaged. This 30 second segment of footage would be used during the portions of the experience in which the user would respond to the actor’s questions. However, because the user’s answer could be any length depending on how detailed their answer, the footage would need to be looped in order to maintain the illusion that the investor was fully engaged and interested in what was being said. This in itself presents challenges in that the actor would need to act as if interested and engaged, and convey that through their behavior, but without making any drastic changes in the position of their body or the continuity at the start and end of the loop would not match.
With all aspects of the scene captured, the footage was then be taken into post production for the two halves of the footage to be brought together to create the seamless effect of both investors being in the same room at the same time, sat right next to each other.