Capture Ultra-High Resolution VR Video

This Case Study explores the theoretical upper limits on today’s super-high-resolution VR video capture, using professional cinema cameras.

Using RED cinema-class cameras to capture VR video

As we set out to build Pixvana’s VR video pipeline, we realized that the VR source media we acquired just wasn’t high resolution enough to feel immersive and lifelike. Most of the media and tools we were using generated master files at 4K resolution and the files lacked dynamic range and sharp details. So we set out in May of 2016 to acquire a set of scenes with at least 10K resolution.

With the help of our friends at the Red camera company, we were able to use five 6K Red Dragon cameras. We needed resolution and detail, so we worked up a 2 day shoot covering four iconic Los Angeles locations. In cooperation with the agency, Bread n Butter, we were able to add three amazing dresses from the Haute Couture designer, Ralph Russo and three stunning models to add character and flash to our shoot.

The What, the Where and the How

In order to come away with the best product possible, the crew paid significant attention to the capabilities of the equipment they were shooting with, the individual locations where they were shooting, and how they arranged each shot. In combination, this resulted in a high quality, immersive VR video product which transports viewers straight into a fashion shoot.

Choosing a Camera

Bigger is better, especially when it comes to Ultra-High-Resolution VR video resolution. That’s why we shot with 5 RED Weapons at 6k. For this shoot, we worked with The Camera House to build a custom rig using Canon fish eye lenses. This allowed us to capture a 360 x 240 degree view with a one up and four around configuration. The only time bigger wasn’t necessarily better was when we had to move the cameras.

Capturing Vast Image Data

The complicated set up of the shoot meant that we only captured about 70 miuntes of footage in Red raw format. However each 6k camera generated a huge amount of data, adding up to over 7 terabytes for all of our locations, providing our team with ultra high-resolution shots of each location. The Red camera was a perfect tool for capturing detail, particularly when shooting outdoors–in the video you read every message scratched in the bamboo!

Framing the Viewers POV

To make you feel like you had the best seat in the house at the Ace Hotel Theater, we set up for a front row shot. In order to ensure the greatest amount of detail in the shot, we implemented high contrast light design to highlight the deco elements around the stage. By focusing on the stage, our shots of the dancers and models gave the final product that “private fashion show” feeling. We also took the shoot outdoors, setting up in the LA Arboretum to bring crisp, detailed nature elements into the final product.

Stitching

We completed this production back in May of 2016, right as Nuke was releasing the Cara VR Stitching plug-in.  We used a combination of Pixvana’s own SPIN Studio technologies for mastering the images, color correction, and getting stitching as close to perfect as possible–but given the relatively large parallax between each of the lenses (because of how far apart the cameras are from one-another), stitching this kind of footage is often in the art of choosing where to hide the stitch artifacts.

Grading and Editing

All editing and grading for this project was completed using proxy versions of the masters, at 4k of resolution, in Adobe Premier.  These smaller files were practical for iterative editorial experiments and reviewing in VR headsets.  We then mastered at full 10k resolution using Adobe After Effects and color grading with RedGiant Magic Bullet.  These large source files, and terabytes of data, really tax a PC workstation, making their fans run at full speed (you can imagine the computer lifting off the ground in flight!)

Viewing in VR

For ultra-high-resolution VR viewing on HTC Vives, Oculus Go & Rifts, and Samsung Gear VR HMDs we used Pixvana SPIN Studio to prepare various streaming and local-playback versions of the experience that mastered the content in advanced FOVAS, Diamond-plane, and traditional 4k equirectangular versions.  No matter the streaming format, the higher quality source footage really adds fine detail and color to make for a truly compelling experience in VR.

Watch Pixvana Ultra HD VR Video Fashion Shoot

You can check out the final product on our YouTube account. This video is also available for free on Pixvana’s SPIN Play application, where you can effortlessly cast it to your VR Headset and view in full 360°

Download the SPIN Play application for free from leading VR app stores including Oculus, Steam, and Google Play for Daydream. Also be sure to check out Wundervu’s website for more information on their work.