Our latest project is perhaps one of our most interesting ever. It's a 3D 360 Virtual Reality short film featuring 6 underprivileged kids from a local Cebu City barangay (which means neighborhood in the Philippines). We wrote, produced and are directing this film, which is half documentary, half fiction, all shot on the real streets and backdrops of some of the poorer areas of Cebu City, Philippines.
We are still shooting as I write this so forgive the atrocious spelling and grammar. My head is pounding from living half of my last three days in an alternate reality that was generally only about 25 feet from my actual reality -- but so far the making of this film has been nothing short of thrilling. The storyline is simple and tracks the real-life mission of our "Wiz Kids" - to transform a dilapidated, run-down space on the 4th floor of a local building into a magical, tropical, kid's library.
All in 48 hours.
HOW WE'RE DOING IT
Originally DMC was brought on to this project by the amazing folks at Shiftrunner, a tech company located in San Francisco, to do branding and logo work. Shiftrunner has embarked on an incredibly ambitious project: to create an online game for kids called PANDOO Nation, all while building an iconic brand that entertains across multiple platforms, empowering and uniting kids to take action for positive change.
Did I mention these cats are incredibly ambitious?
I think I may have.
Above you'll see the logo that was crafted by the designers at DMC, which alone was worthy of an entire long post. The process of logo design still fascinates me and it's my job.
But that just the beginning. The next step was to make a movie about this adventure. Aroon Tan, the CTO at Shiftrunner, and perhaps one of the smartest people I've ever met (at the very least the smartest person I've ever met at La Bella Pizza, our local pizza and beer joint), presented us with the challenge of making a 3-5 minute promotional film in 3D VR 360, using a group kids from the PANDOO Foundation under the watchful and creative eye of the group's Director, Genevieve Bisson.
With my Disney Channel chops and a preference for working with humans under 12, I was sold.
We went to work creating a script that would work for the tight locations and simple storyline we were after. While this is a short film, it's also other things - an overview of PANDOO, a celebration of the types of kids PANDOO helps, and a chance to play with this amazing new technology. So we crafted a simple script that could acted out by non-actors and could use as many locations in Cebu that we could cram in.
If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage. - Leonardo da Vinci
Above is the toy, the OZO.
SHOOTING IN 360.
This simple little droid can film in 4K 3D in total 360. To direct, you simply put on the goggles and start barking out orders. Although most of the time you're ordering around the wall in front of you as the actual set is 50 feet away and the kids are not listening to you.
That said, once you figure out the rhythm of this process it start to be a lot of fun. The camera feeds to a laptop, which stitches the scene together and then feeds it into the goggles in a full 360, 3D virtual presentation. It's a trip, as this photo will attest.
I was very lucky to be ushered into this new world by the geniuses at Ideal Systems out of Singapore (http://idealsys.com/), They are at the forefront of VR and brought a complete team of four to help keep things moving quickly and, I suspect, to keep a close eye on their precious toy, lest a dazed newbie VR director in goggles and big shoes stumbles and knocks it over. It could happen. It would be bad. I was grateful they were there. More on them in another post. Also leading the charge was DMC jack of all trades and producer Senyo Torres, who knows how to control crowds and get decent food in any situation.
Meanwhile, the kids of the PANDOO Foundation and the volunteers were furiously working away to get the beat-up space looking tropical. In the end, they made it and we captured it all in glorious VR. As soon as we get this film edited together, we'll include a link.
Time to get cuttin'! In the meantime, check out some behind the scenes from the production.