In early 2015 we were looking for a way to grow our business and distinguish ourselves from our competitors. As content producers, the next logical step (for us) was to take a look at 360 video and get in and establish ourselves before the market became too saturated.
We bought a camera rig and took some intensive post productions seminars but before marketing ourselves as 360 video producers, we had to gain some experience. We spent weekends out shooting scenes locally and putting them together. We started to get the hang of it and built up a bit of confidence and experience. How tough could it be?
Then the phone rang and we landed a real job…oh, oh…
You look like a nerd with the headset on, but trust me – it’s worth it.
My business partner was Exec Producer of Features and Documentary for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic games. He worked with a lot of smart people within the consortium and almost all of them went off to become super-achievers in their subsequent careers beyond the games. One of his colleagues, the Exec VP of digital for the Olympics, went on to join the team at G Adventures as vice-president of global marketing.
G-Adventures had partnered with National Geographic to create a series of travel experiences aimed at a particular demographic and were looking for something outside the box to fire up their network of travel agents located across the world to help them sell one of their new tours called The Ganges River Experience. So they brought us along to capture photos and 360 video to promote the tour through their website and various social media outlets and international travel trade shows.
If you’ve ever been to a trade show where a company is showing content on the headsets, chances are the lineups are huge, as people are genuinely curious to try them out. It’s a great way to create a real buzz. You’ve got a captive audience and a real opportunity to wow them with something unique.
As G-Adventures is a progressive, forward thinking company, they were keen to get an edge on their competition. So off we went to India to tell a brand story. What could possibly go wrong?
Seriously, is that a bomb?
When filming in 360°, you throw traditional storytelling techniques out the window. Shooting in 360° forced us to approach filmmaking in a new way, to ask ourselves what a story is at its core, and to question how to tell a story in this new medium. When looking for scenes to capture to tell the story visually, you need to look for interesting foreground, medium shots and background. And all in one shot.
The problem is that to capture 360 video we use a rig that actually looks like a bomb. When we fire up the cameras, we activate each of the GoPros with a “beep, beep” then 6 blinking red lights indicate the cameras are rolling. We place the camera in the spot we want to shoot and then we go and hide so we’re not in the shot.
Anyone who is watching us work, (and in India there are 1.26 billion people so there’s always somebody around) wonders first of all – who are these guys and what the hell are are they doing? They put this blinking, beeping thing that looks like a bomb in the middle of a crowded area then they go and hide…Help! Police!
I don’t know how many times I had to show people that it’s a camera. I’d tell let them that if I were to set off a bomb I’d hide a lot further away. That seemed to reassure most folks.
In the end we captured some amazing footage and didn’t get arrested.
The number of hits from the first 360 video they posted on Facebook way surpassed their most popular videos. Audience retention was longer and the comments on the video solidified that people are looking for something new to keep their attention and 360 video might just be it!
Let me know if you think 360 video is the future or simply a fad.
Here is a link to the first in a series of VR 360 documentaries we’re producing.
About Mike Wetmore:
Mike is a partner with Those Canadians Media Group, a company producing branded content and VR 360 stories for some of the biggest brands in the world. Our clients include UFC, Facebook, The International Olympic Committee, Export Development Canada, G-Adventures, Hockey Canada, Tennis Canada, Skate Canada, Rogers Sportsnet and many others. To learn more or get in touch, visit www.thosecanadians.com