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October 2015

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Page 39 of 51 38 POST OCTOBER 2015 REALITY virtual VIRGIL KASTRUP TAKES ON FIVE POINTS OF VIEW IN VR SHORT, THE DOGHOUSE irgil Kastrup (, colorist and online editor, has immersed himself in the virtual reality world with his color grading of The Doghouse, a Danish short that was featured at the New York Film Festival in September/October. The Doghouse is the brainchild of Makropol, a company that develops alternative projects for new media storytelling, using the latest technologies to achieve maximum creativity and impact ( Here, Kastrup discusses the project: I was called in to do the color grading once the film had been shot using two GoPro Hero3 cameras with wide-angle lenses. Like all projects, it had its own unique challenges and I was new to working on 3D virtual reality material. I've been using Assimilate's Scratch for color grading for several years, so I knew it had the flexibility to handle 3D content and it was first to support the Oculus Rift headset. The setting for the film is a dinner table with five guests, and for the shoot each guest is wearing an Oculus Rift headset. The viewer then experiences the same story from five different perspectives at the same time. For the color grading, I received ProRes files with two media streams side-by-side. But the project became more complex with five sets of these files, one set for each of the five points-of-view in the story, and each 20 minutes long. The quality of the final material required finessing the light-to-dark hues. I also had to consider a color palette that would transcend all five charac- ters for continuity and yet maintain the unique perspective of each charac- ter. The director and producer, Johan Knattrup Jensen and Mads Damsbo respectively, attended the interactive client sessions to review the several versions I had created. Together we were able to finalize a look that put all the characters within the same color universe, yet not matching. During the grading, I wore the Oculus Rift headset so I had the sense of complete immersion into the story. I really felt as if I were viewing a scene through someone else's eyes. I know the software so the grading was fluid and natural to me. It's easy to get to the creative aspects of Scratch — its flexibility allows me to try new things and to tackle and easily resolve a wide range of complex grading issues. While the concept of virtual reality is new, I think all colorists should feel comfortable working in this new format. With good tools like Scratch — and they're continually improving — working in VR can be a simplified process and tremendously exciting. To learn more, visit: - - - V and 360-degree viewers, rather than waiting for industry standardization. Things are moving quickly. For example, Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) aims to integrate hardware and software makers into a standard, and Khronos Group is working on open standard APIs that enable author- ing and playback of dynamic media. And rather important is the thousands of VR-related research papers and studies from the 1980s through modern day that contain exhaustive information right at our fingertips. It would be a great shame for those new to VR to not use this as a resource; a danger in any emerging field is the suggestion that an individual may be exploring a new concept or inventing a method without their doing a thorough review of what is already out there. As a community becomes larger it ultimately splits into smaller special- ties, this is the current stage that VR is in. On one hand we may see a dedi- cated area for entertainment and film, and there is crossover into wearables and tech. There are also groups that focus primarily on applications for health care and medicine, again with crossover into other areas. Regardless of the focus area, VR has a powerful ability to provoke empathy, expand perspectives, and connect people to one another in a way that is profound. With narrative VR storytelling, a viewer is no longer sitting passively in an immersive environment, but rather part of the environment. It is not dissimi- lar to theatre, where an ecosystem of stage direction, gaze predication, and audio is used to guide an experience. With the revelation that we can now connect the virtual to the physical, the VR community is coming to the real- ization that the rules of traditional storytelling and editing no longer apply; we have a brand new opportunity to discover a new storytelling language. "The attraction of filmmakers to VR is not just the promise of monetary gain. Many filmmakers and storytellers are attracted by the alluring creative challenges of this new medium that has the power to evoke emotion and empathy like no other format," Ed Lantz mentioned during one of our discus- sions following SIGGRAPH 2015. "VR breaks the so-called '4th wall,' immersing audiences in storyworlds rather than viewing these worlds at arm's length through a cinema frame or videogame screen. Just as in the early days of film, I believe that professional storytellers now entering the VR medium will exploit the unique power of this format in ways that we can hardly imagine today." Attention may seem primarily focused on gaming and short-form film- making for VR at this point in time, leading professionals in the entertain- ment industry to wonder when the moment to turn their focus to VR may be. But once the second half of 2016 arrives with HMDs such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Project Morpheus, newcomer FOVE, and many other immersive devices, people will finally get their chance to get comfortable with VR. This will be the moment when understanding of the social and physical capabilities of VR is going to happen. We have much to look forward to, and it's going to be a thrilling year of welcoming more people into the VR community, or "village" as we like to call it. Denise Quesnel is researcher at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. She is the SIGGRAPH 2016 Immersive Imaging Liaison. Call for Submissions and Conference is now available at www.s2016. SPONSORED CONTENT: ASSIMILATE THE DOGHOUSE/COURTESY OF MAKROPOL

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