Stanford Be Here 360°

360˚ Video – It’s everywhere!

Experience the Stanford campus in 360 through the diverse stories of these five students. Be Here 360 is the first 360 video production for Stanford Video.  Much like learning a new language, creating a 360 video required us to completely rethink the production process from the ground up.  New cameras, new software, new editing tools and new workflows all had to be learned and studied since a 360 VR experience is much different then a standard video.  Many of the foundational tricks, tools, and techniques of standard video storytelling simply would not work with 360. 360 camera

8k, 6 lenses, 1 camera

After our first 360 camera broke during the first weeks of production, we quickly purchased the Insta360 Pro 8k 360 camera the instant itbecame available to the market from backorder.  This camera offered excellent in-camera stitching, 3D stereo recording, 8K resolution, and 360 streaming capabilities.  We struggled with some freezing issues about half-way through production due to some SD card speed issues (even though they were up to the manufacturers specifications), but once that was ironed out the camera served us well.Initial edit challenges
After initial testing, we discovered that it was difficult for viewers to track our subject from shot to shot.  We arranged the scenes so that if you following the student subject the entire time, your focal point would stay very consistent from shot to shot.  So if someone walked from right to left, the next cut would start with the person on the left in about the same spot and then move right… or maybe more left.  Since there is not a huge amount of action to absorb the viewer’s focus in one particular area, the viewer tended to find the subject (usually walking or moving through the frame) and then explore their surroundings whether it was the outdoors high above the bay or inside a huge lab.  Once we cut or dissolved to the next scene, it was hard for the viewer to know where to look since they left the focal point of our student moving across the screen.

edit timeline

360˚ Ambisonic audio

The solution we decided on was to have the voiceover follow the student around the video.  This is done using 360 ambisonic audio plugins and application where we could keyframe the voiceover to follow the student around your head.   If the person was in front of you and you turn your head to the left, the voiceover would move to your right just as if the person was talking from that direction. 

audio program This way, you always knew where the student was instinctively through auditory direction.  Simple, but very effective for transitions when you could be looking exactly opposite of where our main subjects were in the shot, which added to the disorientation from shot to shot and was definitely a distraction.

Stereo 3D

We mostly shot stereo left/right 360 for the production.  This gave the viewer an additional feeling of depth and ‘being there’ in each frame, seeing the distance and space of the dance rehearsal studio or the rolling landscape of the dish.  Stereo 3D is definitely a challenge since not only are everyone’s eyes a bit different but so are their viewer lenses or their phone resolution or their internet speed, all of which can make 3D stereo video a challenge.  

Even though we mastered in 6k over/under stereo to YouTube, my phone only has a 1080p screen resolution. We pushed the technology hard, but better 3D viewing technologies will become easier to get and the costs come down and the viewing capacities become better.  However, some of our shots are not 3D.  See if you can spot them.

The Story

The video follows five students at Stanford. Anna Olson is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering and a course assistant in the Product Realization Lab.  She talks about gaining confidence in herself out of the confidence she gained working with machining, woodworking, welding, and casting in the PRL. Justin Tacket is a PhD candidate in English Literature and is Graduate Coordinator of the Material Imagination Workshop.  Justin relays the importance of the Humanities and specifically about studying the past in order to better understand our present and our future. Anika Benons is an undergraduate student in Computer Science and dances with the Chocolate Heads Movement Band.  Anika relishes the the freedom and escape that dancing provides her, a time to separate from the schoolwork and just be present with herself and her surroundings. Anton Molina is a PhD candidate in Material Science and Engineering and works in the Prakash Bioengineering Lab.   He discusses the vast and diverse knowledge-base amongst his peers in the Prakash lab that help illuminate is own studies and gain a greater insight into possible solutions. Courtney Pal is double majoring in Earth Systems and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.  Courtney loves the outdoors and runs along the campus and nature trails to both clear her mind and also to focus on solving the challenges of her studies.

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