Francis VR Film | World Bank | Fugitives

Francis VR Film | World Bank | Fugitives

Fugitives was commissioned by The Strongheart Group in collaboration with the World Bank, to produce “Francis”, a VR film that would help move mental health out of the shadows and squarely onto the world agenda as a global health and development priority. The target audience: 500 of the worlds’ top health and finance ministers, who would be attending the Mental Health Summit in Washington DC. 

Francis immerses us into the world of a teacher in Ghana who went through a mental health crisis. Told in first-person by Francis himself, the viewer experiences the struggle, through solitary confinement and back, to recovery. 

Fugitives collaborated with the Mission StudioEdison MusicStrongheart Group, and their client The World Bank.  They were able to unify teams to a singular vision, while meeting every challenge with the same level of commitment to storytelling that defines all of their work. 

Mettle 360/VR plugins were used in post-production to help tell the story. SkyBox Studio, SkyBox 360/VR Tools and SkyBox 360/VR Player.

Making of Francis

Francis | Teaser

Q&A with Travis Hatfield, Senior Editor, Fugitives

What was your general production pipeline, from start to finish.

We shot the film using a 14 Camera Stereoscopic GoPro Rig in Ghana, sending stitched stills from each shot back to the US every evening to began working out the story.  Once the full resolution footage arrived in the US, we created the stereoscopic version of the footage and began working with Adobe Premiere to craft the story.  Being able to see the footage for the first time in the Oculus was a pretty amazing experience, and the fact that we could do that all inside of Premiere was even better.  I think we all were a bit skeptical at first on the notion of VR, but it really does transport you to a different place allowing for greater empathy.  This idea influenced how we approached the project and dictated many of the choices along the way.   We knew that we had the ability to let viewers live in Francis’ world.  We didn’t want to take that for granted.

After we had the story figured out, we were able to send the footage to Adobe After Affects for placement and timings of 2D projections. This was the start the long process of finishing. There was a lot of trial and error when creating the various techniques that we used, and Skybox Studio allowed us the sandbox to play in.   After all of the shot cleanup, sky replacement, and color correction we conformed the final shots in Premiere and export the final product to be viewed on the Samsung Gear VR.

Adobe’s pipeline of software coupled with the Mettle series of plugins helped us easily navigate both platforms and create a finished product that we are very proud of.  For a project that seemed so technically difficult at the beginning, the software created a safe and familiar place in which we could create.

What hardware and software did you use?


Editorial: 2 x 2013 Mac Pro w/ D700 Graphics Cards, 2 x Oculus Rift DK2 Headsets, 3 x Samsung Galaxy S6 + Samsung VR Headsets.

Software: Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop Adobe Illustrator, Autodesk Flame, Maya, Koler Autopano

How exactly did you use our 360 plugins?

We used the Mettle series of plugins for a lot of things.  We used Skybox VR Player to see what we were working on during editorial, Skybox 360VR Tools for Re-Orienting the Sphere, Projecting 2D images on Footage for timing and placement, Skybox Blur to help disorient the viewer inside of the hut, and Skybox Studio (After Effects) for compositing 2D Images on the walls of our environments to feel like actual projections,  and creating our VR Instructions and End Credits.

One of the unsung uses for Skybox Studio was actually the previs aspect of our film.  We were able to quickly create a 360 environment to try out all the ideas we were thinking about.  In the end of our film there is a field filled with hundreds of photos all placed within the 360 environment.  Once we were happy with our look, we were able to hire a 3D artist to create a much bigger and more infinite field of photos in Maya, and then bring it back to After Effects and ultimately to our sequence with the help of Skybox.

What challenges did you overcome (if any) in this production, technically?

The biggest challenge was working with Stereoscopic 4K Footage (essentially 8k footage) in an Adobe Environment.  Being new to the world of VR, we wanted to be able to treat this project much like we would any video project, so the ability to work in a realtime environment was crucial to the process.  We learned fairly quickly that it’s pretty hard to find a machine that could handle the 8k footage at full resolution while outputting to the oculus in real time.  There was a lot of working at 1/16 resolution to do the best we could with the cut, then rendering to see what we had accomplished.  We were so desperate at one point that we rented a supe’d up Windows Box with 3x Nvidia Graphics Cards only to find that it wasn’t any faster than our current mac setup.  We downloaded/purchased almost every VR plugin in existence at that time (February/March of 2016) and found that the combination of Mac Pro and Mettle was the only way to accomplish what we needed.

What kind of response did you get from viewers at the Mental Health Summit? 

The Mental Health Summit was filled with Health and Finance Ministers from around the world. The attendees probably had varying degrees of  understanding of these conditions.   Our film helped to focus and literally place in their laps a first hand account of the state of mental health in the world.  It had a huge impact.  

“It is so hard to move people these days, but you moved them.”

– Alison Brunier, Communications Officer, Office of the Director-General, World Health Organization

“It is GREAT work”

– Honorable Patrick Kennedy, Lead Congressional Sponsor of the US Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

“That was incredible. You guys delivered, BEYOND”

– Dr. Tim Evans, Senior Director, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, The World Bank Group

Fugitives Team:

Director/CEO Fugitives, Chris Gernon
Senior Editor, Fugitives, Travis Hatfield
Cinematographer/Editor, Scott Barker

About Fugitives: “We build branded video content for some of the world’s most sophisticated companies. They are creative partners who believe that good work is the result of good collaboration. We work side by side with internal marketing departments. We keep a core staff of storytellers and problem solvers, leveraging relationships as projects demand. We have all the experience, creativity and wisdom of a large agency with the nimbleness, care and personal attention of a small one.”

Fugitives WebsiteFacebook

Strongheart Group:
Producer:  Zoë Adams
Co-Director: Judy Korin

About Strongheart: The Strongheart Group is a non-profit advocacy and public relations organization that specializes in implementing innovative story-to-impact strategies to affect large scale social change at global and national levels.

“We believe that agendas for true social change must be driven by native voices. We believe that big social issues need to be personalized for the real impact to be understood. We believe that for real change to happen, local voices need to be brought into the boardrooms and congress halls of the world’s decision makers.”

Strongheart Website

Mettle Skybox Suite has joined Adobe.

Mettle Skybox Suite of plugins will be exclusively available as part of your Creative Cloud membership through deep, native integration with Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC. Adobe Creative Cloud will offer an end to end experience for crafting rich and compelling VR/360 experiences.  

 Learn more – Adobe and Mettle VR: 360 degrees better

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