Agnus Die | VR Short Film | Cream VR
We take a look back at the first 360/VR project that Cream VR produced: Agnus Die. They have come far since this initial effort over a year ago, producing many VR projects, including the upcoming “Wild Things VR” with Dominic Monaghan, and a Civil War VR film for Discovery.
Agnus Die was the result of a one month incubator run by Andrew McDonald and Tristan Cezair at Cream VR, in Toronto. Cream had already been producing award-winning TV for 15+ years for clients that included Discovery and National Geographic. The owner of Cream, David Brady, was super-stoked to move into VR production, and the incubator was an ideal testing ground. With a concept inspired by Hitchcock, they built their own camera rig (which included Entaniya lenses and a bicycle sprocket!) and figured out how to get the shots they needed. For post-production, they looked in user forums and found out about Mettle 360/VR plugins, and used SkyBox Studio.
Incubator Period + Entaniya
Andrew’s background as a DP/Camera man (Discovery, Nat Geo) combined well with Tristan’s experience running a VR Consultancy for VR production (photogrammetry and interactive digital media production for the entertainment industry).
Alfred Hitchcock was a pioneer in linear filmmaking, so Andrew looked to his films to draw inspiration. So the concept for Agnus Die took shape, with the goal to match the camera scenes from Psycho in VR. They wanted to push beyond the technical limitations of VR and get close to the subject. To address this, they built their own 360 camera. They took apart some GoPros and used the sensors combined with some brand new Entaniya lenses that Tristan had just ordered from Japan. “The lenses were not even for sale yet when I got them. It was a very exciting time for me, as I had not yet met with Cream, so getting access to those lenses really was a pivotal moment for my VR career,” explains Tristan.
So they put together a 360 camera with only 3 cameras instead of the typical GoPro 6-camera rig, because Entaniya produces high-quality fish-eye lenses that could cover 360° with only 3 lenses. That meant less stitching, and being able to get tighter shots, a must for the production. There were no mounts yet available for this type of camera set-up, so they had to make their own.
A Bicycle Sprocket and elastics
The 360° camera was ready, so now the challenge was to build a rig that could place a 360° camera inside the confined space of a shower. So they hacked a DIY solution: a 4-foot threaded rod, a bicycle sprocket (one that was near the cogs) and some elastics.
“We were able to shoot the shower scenes by placing our 360° camera inside the shower, at the end of the 4-foot rod. The fish eye lens means you can approach your subject more closely, and there are less stitching lines,” explains Andrew.
Searching for a 360/VR post-production solution in early 2015, Tristan had gone through some user forums and found the mettle 360/VR plugins for Adobe After Effects. The titling, object removal, integrating CG with the footage, was all done in After Effects with SkyBox Studio. “It would have been a logistical and technical nightmare, no pun intended, without it,” says Tristan. “It was just what we needed for the 360 workflow.”
Agnus Die | Close-ups were possible using the DIY 3-camera solution.
Coming Soon from Cream VR
Cream VR has come far since this initial effort a year ago, moving on to many VR productions, including “Wild Things” VR with Dominic Monaghan, (Travel Channel), and “A Letter Home” VR Tales from the Civil War, both soon available on the Cream VR App.
Cream 360 is a virtual reality content producer – brought to you by award-winning Cream Productions. Cream VR has innovative and proprietary VR technology and software, and always puts story telling first.