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December 2015

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Page 46 of 51 45 POST DECEMBER 2015 OUTLOOK VR O espite initial doubts, there is now no question that virtual reality is the next big thing. But, as an entirely new way of looking at the world, it brings with it a new set of challenges we hadn't even thought of before — most nota- bly, how do you tell a story when your audience is able to do whatever and go wherever they want? "What's most interesting is how quick- ly it's evolving, that we're starting to latch on to how you tell these stories," explains Justin Denton, VR director and visual effects supervisor at Legend3D. Denton began his visual effects career in pre-visualization, before moving into the not unrelated field of supervision, then virtual camera development. Three-dimensional cinematic worlds obviously translate into VR, but it was Denton's later work on theme park and planetarium experiences that set him up for his role at Legend3D. "The main person I learned under was Richard Taylor, who was the VFX supervisor from the original Tron," says Denton. "He was dealing with all these things that people think of as new VR problems, but he had been solving them for decades. So I understood some of the inherent problems of telling a story for VR really early on." Like Denton, Legend3D was already cut out for the burgeoning VR industry. It made a name for itself as a post VFX house, converting such films as Man Of Steel, Transformers 3 and 4, and Malef- icent from flat 2D to stereoscopic 3D. It felt it could use its well-established pipeline for VR projects. Legend3D completed stitching and conversion on The Recruit: R U In to launch its VR division. The company also provided some simple VFX compositing for the live-action short film, which was made for Samsung's Galaxy Gear VR headset. But its next project for tequila company Patrón took Legend3D further down the virtual reality rabbit hole. Dubbed Art of Patrón: Be The Bee, the VR experience was pitched, shot and edited by Legend3D in conjunction with digital agency Firstborn and director Mark Kudsi, and it put viewers in the shoes of the brand's iconic insect as it flew over a tequila field and through the company's headquarters. It was filmed using an array of GoPro cameras under- neath a drone, tracked with Nuke and rendered with V-Ray. While these projects showed that Legend3D could handle live-action and live-action/CG projects respectively, it felt that to become a proficient VR studio it needed to tackle a full-CG project. Fortunately, Legendary Pictures was seeking a VR project to market Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak for ComicCon that required some technical ingenuity and maneuvering. The Crimson Peak experience was just the tip of the VR iceberg, and it's a medium which is experiencing fast growth. Horror is the perfect genre for these simulated worlds because it's pretty easy to scare people with dark spaces and giant monsters, but Denton believes we're on the cusp of VR exploding into all forms of entertainment. "Maybe six months ago we were in the Lumière brothers stage of this, where a train goes by and everybody will buy a ticket to see that in a theatre," he says. "But we're rapidly evolving — maybe we're in the '70s now, I'm not sure! It's fascinating to see how quickly people are breaking the rules that were set very early on." Denton says that a big challenge for directors is: 'How do I make the audi- ence look where I want them to look?' "We're coming up with all these meth- ods," he notes, "whether it's a lighting change that shifts to a certain area, or you have a guide...where you're physical- ly led to look at a different part of the screen. Those things are going to evolve into the next stage, which will be if you watch a bird fly by, and you stay focused on it long enough, maybe you start to fly with it." THE CHARMS AND CHALLENGES OF VIRTUAL REALITY D BY MATT AKEY EVP OF PRODUCTION/CMO LEGEND3D LA/SAN DIEGO/TORONTO WWW.LEGEND3D.COM OUTLOOK O The commentary continues at MTI Film's Larry Chernoff, Bling Digital's Jesse Korosi, Fraunhofer IIS's Dr. Siegfried Foessel, GPL Technologies' Jason Blum, Stiller Studios' Patrik Forsberg, FuseFX's David Altenau, WCPMedia Services' Ken Yas, HP's Jim Zafarana, NetApp's Jason Danielson, Roger's Drew Neujahr, and many more! ONLINE Director Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak.

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