culture by Alyssa Castillo

Watch: How do you produce virtual reality?

We go behind-the-scenes at a VR shoot to find out

Virtual and Augmented Reality seems to be the next phase of technology, a way of combining what we see with helpful details that can enhance our experiences. At this year’s IMMAP Digital Congress (DigiCon), it was a topic that was top of mind as more and more people wonder where we can take this innovation further.

We visited the shoot of a video that premiered at DigiCon, which featured Ballet Manila and the production house G5 Studio. We found out the nitty gritty that goes on behind AR productions, and spoke to G5 Studio’s CEO George Royeca to find out more about this exciting medium.

What are some of the things you’ve worked that have caught people’s attention?
Quite a few. I think one of the things that we really kind of started in the space was sports. We did a lot of sports coverage. The last, locally here, we did the coverage of the Asia cup finals which was under FIBA. The Gilas team was a part of it and all of the other Southeast Asian countries. We had a goal camera, we had a baseline camera, and people got to experience being in the arena from home.

Apart from sports, what else could you get into?
Basically any content. The first time VR came out, people were going up in mountains. Putting five go pros, multiple go pros into one ring and kind of really just trapping it together and stitching all the videos in a manual space. I think we’ve come quite a long way from there. Now we have equipment broadcast quality production that enables you to do that on the fly, which is what we have here right now. We started VR with travel videos, adventure videos and then we just kind of decided to expand it to other things that will give you other experiences. Right now our idea is to develop it as a standalone medium and go into entertainment. Most of the VR guys or companies right now are really focused on gaming. What we want to do is focus on live-action footage, the realm of entertainment and advertising. Whether it’s travel video, adventure video, short film.

What are the actual costs of doing everything VR style?
It depends. It can be really cheap. You can buy a 3D printed rig for like $200. Put a bunch of GoPro cameras there and you’re ready to go. But it can also be very expensive. What we deploy has a lot of like accessories like gimbals, drones, setups, which can be costly. There are a lot of 360 gadgets right now. Samsung has one 04:24. Insta360 is also one of the popular ones. You can buy one for maybe P10,000 pesos, P1,000 pesos. I think VR is for everyone. It’s a cool thing to have.

Who’s your target audience?
I guess the easiest would be millennials. They like technology. Technology is native to them and they like experiencing new things. But really it’s anyone who wants to have this type of immersive experience. I find other people as old as 50 or 60 trying it out. Some of it can be a lot for older people; it can get dizzy and a little bit unnerving for some. But it’s a very normal thing that we do now so it should start opening to a wide demographic.

How will augmented reality be useful to others?
Virtual reality is fully immersive so you don’t see anything. You don’t see your existing world so your world is completely overlapped by another world. Then we have augmented reality, which is partial. You look at your real world and you enhance it with 3D graphics. There are a lot of applications. Education is a huge application. There’s one of my good buddies from I Am Cardboard. They did an installation in Ayala Museum and it gives you the VR experience showing how Jose Rizal died. Pokemon Go was augmented reality. Snapchat is augmented reality. You smile and rainbows come out of your mouth. I think more and more people will adopt this kind of mixture between reality and other things overlaid on it. Whether you’re a medical student looking at a cadaver and seeing where the cut points to open you’re doing an autopsy of and so on and so fort. If you’re an electrical engineer and you want to look at a circuit board and try to see what are the different aspects around putting a lot of those screws and wires together. Those are the things that can help that can really illustrate the work through augmented reality or virtual reality.

What do you think the future holds for your team here?
The first time I saw VR, I fell in love with it. It was games but then I saw that there was this void in the market and I really look at this as a different medium. This is the new medium that people are going to start to develop and hone and I think Filipinos are talented in terms of storytelling. This is one medium in the entire world that no one’s an expert of. It’s nascent and if we apply our filmmaking or storytelling talents here, I think we could excel globally. That’s what we want to do. We want to be a content creation studio for 360 that excels on a global scale.

Is there a chance that AR would affect almost all senses, aside from just eyesight?
There are a lot of experiments right now, like touch pads and sensors. There will be thousands of technologies that will pop up with something new and exciting. Who knows what’s in store but right now we’re really moving from being passive with our technology to being a bit more active and interactive. It’s here to stay and it will continue to progress.

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @lysscstll.
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