Ever since the release of the 360° comedic short Teleportaled, VR Dribble has had their eye on masterminds of PAVR Media. Paving the way for VR filmmakers, Mike of PAVR sat down with us (virtually) to talk stories, the success of Teleportaled and how others can achieve same successes in the VR space.
Hey Mike, tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you and where do you come from?
M: Hey VRDribble! We, (Mike Ashton and Alex Plapinger) are two pals who live in Venice, California. Mike’s a director and VFX artist and Alex is a producer from the Film and TV world.
What's PAVR Media all about? It says on your website you focus on 'Popcorn VR'; can you tell us a little more as to what that means?
M: Popcorn is delicious, bite sized and enjoyed by everyone. We want our VR to be like that - fun and meant to be shared with friends. Eventually we’d love to make Kettlecorn VR. Eventually.
Teleportaled has received a lot of attention in the last few months. As far as we are concerned, it's one of the best comedic VR pieces of content out there. Where did the iteration of the idea come from?
M: We wanted to do a VR piece that told a simple little story and had a sense of humor about itself. We also wanted to do something immersive, where environment was central to the narrative, but there’s also clear point of focus for the viewer and a purpose for the camera. Most of all we wanted to work with some of our very talented acting friends. At the end of the day it was sort of a test/proof of concept to see what might work and what we could get away with.
What sparked your interest in virtual reality? Where did you first learn about it?
M: The Lawnmower Man sparked our interest. We've been waiting 23 years for this moment! We also saw some VR work at Sundance last year which got us fired up! Coming from the traditional side of filmmaking, this seemed like a natual progression.
Which 360° camera did you use to record Teleportaled? What were the challenges/obstacles you had to overcome with the camera?
M: Six GoPros and a cheap 3D printed rig, about as lo-fi as it gets. Many many challenges came up - Overheating, low light, battery, stitching etc. Having now made more stuff and seen how delicate the process can be we’re sort of stunned our first attempt at a production worked out without any major glitches.
What editing software did you use to stitch the images together? How did this editing process differ from traditional film editing?
M: We used a combo of Abobe Premiere, After Effects, Autopano Video and some magic. There basically was no editing. In every scene it was clear which take was the best so the real work was the stitching and VFX. Editing was swift.
Was there a learning curve in creating Teleportaled? If so, what lessons were taken from the production period?
M: You can’t have too many back up batteries! Test your sound equipment! REHEARSE!
Where do you think the sweet spot is for the future of storytelling in the virtual reality film arena?
M: Eventually someone’s gonna do something that fully capitalizes on the opportunity for immersive, experiential, social, interactive, empathy generating, narrative entertainment and that will set the bar for true VR storytelling. Until then we’re gonna just try to make as many fun projects as possible.
We're eager for more PAVR content! Are you currently working on any projects?
M: We’ve foolishly committed to making a bunch of VR. We have four experiences in post which will be coming out over the next few months and are prepping a bunch more. We’re working with an amazing lineup of actors/writers/directors of Film/TV shows you know and love and are going to be generating more ambitious VR entertainment asap. Brace yourself.
Who do you find inspirational in the VR space?
M: Really anyone who’s just making original narrative VR. We learn so much from seeing how other people have gone about it. There’s basically no precedent so the creativity out there is really inspiring. Plus we’re keen to borrow all the best ideas and production practices available ;)
In the grand scheme of things, what role do you think virtual reality will play in our lives?
M: There are so many applications - Gaming, Social, Entertainment, Design, Education… And we’ll probably see it find its footing in all those areas. Ultimately, we’d like to think it will help us connect and empathize and experience the world and its inhabitants in profound ways. But if it turns out to be just be another evolution of the good old idiot box I guess that wouldn’t be so bad either. It is truly exciting to see something of this nature unfold before us, we will need to be patient and malleable, but in the end I thing it will take our imagination to new heights.
You can find Mike and Alex on Twitter, or check out the website for PAVR Media for 360 ° content, including their most recent release Sunset & Suns. Both Teleportaled and Sunset & Suns were both nominated for the VR Film Fest. If you enjoyed either experience, please vote for them!