First time shooting a 360° music video

video in Youtube

In autumn 2016 I had an honour to direct 360°-music video for Finnish artist Mikko Joensuu. This was a pilot project between Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. We were commissioned to create a 360°-video for More that 30 students from 3 different campuses were involved in the production.

For most of the crew this was the first attempt to create something for the new and fascinating medium. Gladly we received wonderful guidance from visiting lecturers Synes Elischka, the director of VR film Ego Cure, and Serdar Ferit & Paulina Tervo from Lyfta. They already had a lot of experience of creating 360- and VR-projects.

As a director I felt I had to explore the medium by myself first to see how it’s done and what is possible. Luckily later on, with my producer Iisa-Noora Leppänen we managed to find right individuals to the key roles of this production. They did a great job studying, exploring and sharing their knowledge as the production went on.

Youtube playlist of various tests I did with the Gopro rig.

From the students’ point of view this was a zero budget production. It was a limiting factor while we were planning the production. I feel we did a great job after all. Props and costumes are not just “cheap and random” as someone in the crew was joking. I’m very glad so many wonderful people gave their time and knowledge for this project. Thanks to Finnish Broadcasting company Yle and Metropolia UAS for providing all the tools, studio space and awesome staff for us.

Few words about the video

The whole video was shot in 3 days. We built the studio on Wednesday, shot it on Thursday and then on Friday we shot location scenes 2 & 3. Beach location was shot later in one afternoon.

Mikko Joensuu and the band in studio. photo: Lauri Leskinen/YLE

We shot five studio takes total, with ten musicians in the studio. Audio was recorded in all takes and the studio take is actually selected based on the audio rather than the visuals.

In road and courtyard scenes we had a small location crew and two actors. The mysterious lady is Finnish actress Marja Salo, who wanted to participate our project after giving us a lecture about directing from actor’s point of view. The guy in the courtyard is Severi Haapala who works in Metropolia. I think he suited that role perfectly!

First and the last shot of the afternoon. Courtyard scene only took one take.

What more should I say about the video? It’s an experience which works best with a VR headset and headphones. There is a loose storyline, which in my opinion relates to Mikko Joensuu’s whole Amen -trilogy.

Rather than telling a clear, narrative story we wanted to provoke universal feelings with different scenes. We also wanted to create a peaceful VR space, where the viewer can listen to the beautiful tunes and immerse into another world. That said, if you liked the song, you should definitely try it with a cardboard or headset. It’s totally different experience than in the desktop viewer.

1 roll, 2 roll, …, 6 roll. All Cameras roll!

Finally, for all the geeks, it’s tech time! The video was shot with 360Heros Gopro rig, which had six Gopro Hero4 blacks. Cameras were set to record 1440/50p, Protune on, color flat and ISO limit 400. Stitching was done with Kolor Autopano bundle. Stitched scenes were huge 5.5K/50p 10bit-Cineform files. Later we had to drop the specs to UHD/25p due some unexpected troubles in the post production pipeline.

360°-streaming unit in action. We are fine tuning the set with Mika Koivunen while the band is checking sound. photo: Minna Kilpeläinen

360-live streaming with Videostitch Vahana VR helped us a lot while we were building and lighting the studio set. Actual takes were shot using the Gopros’ internal recording to keep the camera footprint minimal.

Youtube playlist with 3 location scenes before and after. In the beginning you hear my voice shouting commands. In road scene we had to use walkie talkie for directing the actress since there wasn’t a suitable hiding place anywhere near.

A Whole new story layer was added in the post production, as you can see from the making-of clips. Super talented and motivated group of students worked some serious hours to make this happen. Most of the post production was done in After Effects with Mettle Skybox plugin. Maxon Cinema 4D was used for creating the 3D effects.

Originally we didn’t want to move the camera because of the VR sickness, but it also gave us much more room to play in the post. Otherwise it would have been impossible to rotoscope and create depth masks inside the production time frame. Special thanks to Lauri Huikuri and Johannes Metsälampi who took charge of the post production. Thank you Liisi Soroush who helped me to define the visual aesthetics and supervised the visual integrity throughout the production. Thank you senior lecturer Minna Kilpeläinen who made this possible in the first place, and thank you everyone who stubbornly made this happen! Complete crew list and credits are attached to the Youtube video, too many names to mention here.

If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m more than happy to share my knowledge!

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