Guess who finally got around to releasing another video???
It’s been a busy couple months here, but I finally got around to assembling another video. Sometimes a person needs a little motivation and this time, I set my goal to have an edit ready and uploaded before the end of the Expo.
I’m happy to say…. Mission Accomplished. Enjoy experiencing E3 2017!
Keep it real in the Virtual. But most of all, NJOYVR.
Let’s pivot a bit, shall we?
I wanted to take some time to talk about community.
I know it seems a bit odd a topic to discuss on a blog that focuses on 360 filmmaking, but stick with me… I assure you it’s relevant.
The past several weeks have been a whirlwind for me. Finding the time to Produce content, brainstorm, maintain the webpage, post regularly on social media, and attend industry-related events has proven itself a bit daunting to say the least. At the end of the day, however, there’s one theme that keeps making itself present and keeps me positive and looking ahead. You guessed it! Community.
Let me explain…
One of the main reasons I chose to make NJOYVR an active exploration and blog was because I wanted to demystify Virtual Reality and 360 Media for readers. Speaking from experience, I know that just hearing those words “Virtual Reality” (especially if you know little about the medium) can be a bit off-putting. It sounds time consuming, complicated, expensive, and most of all intimidating. I was fortunate enough to dabble a bit in my career before biting the bullet and buying my first 360 camera. Not everyone is so lucky. When I went to my first trade show to learn a bit more about VR, I was shocked to hear that people who were actively producing VR and 360 content professionally were perfectly willing to admit that THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE DOING! …and the more I delved into this, the more professionals I found who were quite candid about figuring all this out as they went along. They were learning, too. They were just like me. Maybe they had a better connection in the industry or maybe they just got off their butts and just made something, but this was a turning point for me. I suddenly saw beauty in the unknown. I didn’t have to have all the answers laid out for me to get the job done. Perhaps it was time for me to just “make stuff” and embrace my failures as a learning experience. Thus, NJOYVR was born… and I have my VR/360 community of peers to thank.
So I jumped in head first. I organized my ideas and I started creating. Content, Web Page, Social Media, Logo… I started chipping away at them, one by one, until I had a blueprint of something I could be proud of. This brings me to my next community. The Support System. I’m fortunate to have family that identified my passion and supported my cultivation of it. Time, goal setting, resource management, and a plethora creativity all came from family and close friends. No man is, in fact, an island. What’s more… I made the acquaintance of another Producer who was doing very much the same thing I had in mind for NJOYVR. The only difference was that he was farther along in his development and he was doing a better job than I ever felt I could. …and instead of brushing off my questions, he was helpful and supportive. He knew that if we support one another, we all have a better chance at success. So, I’m thankful to be able to look around and see a bunch of encouraging, motivational individuals. That’s my support community.
Finally, I wanted to discuss my local community. When trying to find inspiration for social media posts and when looking for my next 360 video project I needn’t look any further than my backyard (or city, in the slightly broader connotation). So, my social media posts are starting to get some attention now and I’m seeing love thrown my way from local businesses on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I really dig my city and supporting the community and local businesses (as I would want to be supported) seemed like a fantastic way to practice my craft, give back, and maybe get some attention directed to NJOYVR as a result. I’ve been having a lot of fun lately posting “tiny planet” photos to my feeds and seeing the reception they get. It’s new to most folks and, when people see these types of images, they’re often left flipping through their Instagram filters trying to figure out which one makes it look like that. Now, I’m actually looking forward to seeing who throws me some love on social media next. First is was the local pizza kitchen… Next, the local brewery. Needless to say… their support is well received and much appreciated. I look forward to contributing some likes back at them. If I’m lucky, It will bring some attention (and hopefully, business) their way. My local community is my muse.
Each of these three communities have been both warm and welcoming to me and my journey. I’d challenge anyone out there reading this to embrace your own communities and sound off with your experiences below.
Until next time… Keep it real in the Virtual. But most of all, NJOYVR.
So… 2 videos went up on the Youtube page that actually necessitated a proper edit. I’d like to take some time to review some of the more notable things I learned from the experiences. But first… I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all the people close to me that have encouraged and supported me with this passion project. In particular, my wife; who has helped me overcome the massive hurdle that is “Social Media.” And with that… back to the blog!
It’s an incredible feeling, being able to take a bunch of video clips and find a story, a rhythm, a tone in them. With a narrative, you typically have these things laid out for you before you start shooting. With documentary-style footage, however, you’re often left assembling disjointed pieces of captured media… trying to find inspiration and discovery amongst all the pieces. It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle… A Where’s Waldo puzzle. Once you sort through all the pieces and FINALLY find Waldo… then you can start digging out your edges and finish assembling. But enough about Waldo! Let’s talk about lessons learned, shall we?
- Project Length – My 360 camera captures roughly 30 minutes of video in it’s internal memory. That’s about 8 minutes longer than your typical episodic television show (commercials excluded). Add the VR goggles to that equation and it became evident early that the content I was producing didn’t really warrant a long run-time. I’d searched around Youtube for 360 videos that were deliberately edited and found them to run (on average) in around the 3-5min range. For me… this was a good starting point to keep in the back of my head as I whittled through all the footage to tag and trim clips that I felt were worth showing. This, I found, posed a challenge for the WonderCon video, as there’s SOOO much cool and interesting experiences and costumes… I just didn’t want to leave anything out! In retrospect, however, I should have been a bit more deliberate about the clips I chose to include. When I shot the March for Science, I went in having learned this from WonderCon edit and came out with what I thought was a much more concise and effective 360 experience for viewers. But, more about that later.
- Tone – These 2 videos have VERY different tones which made for 2 very different edits. I found that the earlier you understand the tone of what your video will be, the sooner you can make more deliberate choices about your music, transitions, shot lengths, etc. WonderCon was a fun, frenetic environment and my edit complimented that. In contrast, the March for Science (despite the pithy signs), carried a more serious and inspirational tone. With that, came complimentary music, slower dissolves, and longer shots.
- Equipment – I shoot my 360 videos with the hand-held Ricoh Theta S and often use the Tamrac Zipshot tripod as a selfie stick to extend the camera away from my face either out in front of me or above heads. I’ll save my reviews of these products for another post or video, but I will say that I’m incredibly impressed with how compact they are and how varied their uses can be. Simply holding the camera in my hand or on the stick poses an annoying problem, however…. the dreaded CAMERA SHAKE! Now, we all know how annoying this can be in your typical Youtube video. Now, try viewing through Google Goggles and you’ve compounded the issue. What’s more… someone’s visuals not syncing up with their body movements can actually make people sick. All this to say that I may want to look into getting a proper 360 gimbal in the future. If anyone out there wants to recommend a rig suitable for 360 video capture, sound off in the comments section.
- Slates & Images – One final, major lesson I learned was that… once I got my media out there and people were viewing, I quickly became aware that, while watching the same video, people were having VASTLY different viewing experiences. Let me explain… First, came my own user error. After posting the WonderCon footage publicly, I’d already gotten about 30 views when someone asked why the image “looked all stretch out.” CRAP! I’d forgotten to inject the 360 metadata into my final render. Frantically, I did so and repeated the upload process. Lesson learned. After I’d fixed this, I would, occasionally get asked the same question. Turns out that Web Browsers Safari and Internet Explorer do not currently support 360 video… even when watching in Youtube. All they see is your source stitched media which looks “all stretched out.” While assembling the March for Science, I made a point to add “For Browser Viewing, Please Use Chrome” to my opening slate. I’m hoping this helps to clarify things for viewers going forward.
In summary… looking at the success of the 2 videos, I’ve become more critical of my work on the WonderCon edit. I think the edit was too long and I think I needed to be more deliberate with the shots I chose to show. This was a challenge because there were TONS of things I though people could want to see. This might warrant some further investigation. I’m kicking around the idea of releasing more of my captured content from the event for those who might just want to experience what it was like to be there. Maybe someone just wants to know what it’s like to walk the floor. Maybe someone wanted to take in the whole T-Rex Lightsaber duel or the Martial Arts circle. Maybe some folks just want all 30min of my captured footage to play out so they can look around at all the cool Cosplay. Anyway, it’s worth some thought, and once I decide on a direction that that might be the most effective, you may see a new video up.
Thanks again for taking the time to read today’s blog. I hope it’s brought you some value.
Until next time… Keep it real in the Virtual. But most of all, NJOYVR.
Some tiny planet footage of the March for Science LA. Stay tuned for the highlight reel!
Just for fun, I took some time this weekend to assemble some 1 take videos and upload them to Youtube.
Before yesterday, I hadn’t had much experience using Youtube as a creator.
- Viewing in Google Cardboard – If you’re hoping to have viewers enjoy your videos in their Google Cardboard, they’ll need a moment to tap the icon on their phones, install their phone into the headset properly, and get it up or attach the device to their face. I created an opening placard that instructs people to do that and held it on screen for about 8 seconds. After testing this several times, I’m thinking I may update that time to about 10 seconds in future videos. We’ll see how that goes.
- Tagging – I’ve yet to see the fruits of this labor on this, but tags (like hashtags) seem to be key to getting your videos viewed. Youtube gives you 500 characters to tagging, so there’s plenty of latitude there.
- Video Thumbnail – Now that your video has come up in a search, what’s going to make people choose to click on it over another, similar video? Like tagging, your Thumbnail also seems to be very important to getting those eyeballs to your media. Youtube has it’s own Thumbnail creator which is easy to use and does a pretty good job. You can access it through their Creator Studio once you’ve uploaded your video. Otherwise, if you have an image editing program like Photoshop, and create one from scratch. I plan to give this a go in future videos to see if I can establish a consistent template for you thumbnails.
- Thumbs Up & Subscribe – OK, now that you’ve got people looking at your media, you want to get your media to a larger audience. You’ll notice on several Youtube channels that creators will often petition for your Thumbs Up & Subscribes. As far as I can tell, these numbers establishes you popularity and can potentially get you higher up in search results. I created a simple “Thanks for watching!” slate at the end of my video with the “Thumbs Up” and “Subscribe” icons. Not having any viewers yet, myself, I cannot attest to the success or failure of this effort. I guess time will tell.
I know there are a lot of Youtube rockstars out there, so if any one of you happen to be reading this, I’d love for you to weigh in on my amateur observations. Similarly, if you’re learning yourself, and have any words of wisdom or questions, please chime in and share your thoughts.
Until next time… Keep it real in the Virtual. But most of all, NJOYVR.
Our tagline says it all…
NJOYVR is an ACTIVE exploration into the best uses and practices for Virtual Reality.
… and in the spirit of that, we’re ACTIVELY working to provide an excellent viewer experience for all visitors.
So, this is a thing now.
We’re excited to further explore these new horizons that are 360 media and VR production.
Our tagline is…
NJOYVR is a active exploration into the best uses and practices for Virtual Reality. Our goal is to make VR more joyful and more accessible for everyone!
So… what does that mean to us?
Art, by it’s very essence has no rules. There’s no denying, however, that the success of most mediums follow a common “standards and practices” that allow their work to be more accessible and to add value to viewer’s lives. It’s the Wild West out there for Virtual Reality and everyone is scrambling to figure out the best formula.
In that spirit, we promise to create and collaborate without fear of failure and learn how to produce the best possible Virtual Reality media experience we can.
Let’s break VR together!