SyFy "Hide and Go Geek" VR Video at Comic-Con

SyFy creates two interactive VR videos that transport viewers right into the hustle of full-throttle cosplay characters attending Emerald City Comic-Con and C2E2 Chicago.

Hide and Go Seek in 360°!

SYFY Wire set out to create a “gamified” VR video experience so their fans could experience Comic-Con as an immersive and engaging VR 360 video experience. If you’ve never been to one of these before, thousands of attendees show up in full costume as pop-culture characters from comics and movies. The “cosplay” outfits and personalities that the most dedicated participants bring to their characters are really a sight to behold–and a great experience to offer virtually through VR.

The idea was to create a VR “Hide and Go Seek” experience (or for this audience, “Hide and Go Geek”), where viewers can search through the multitude of cosplay attendees for a unique character. The production created two of these VR videos; one at Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle, and the other at C2E2 in Chicago.

The idea: challenge viewers to explore the full 360 space

VR videos present a new creative challenge: how to orient a viewer’s experience to central areas of the story being told. Visual and audio cues can suggest areas of interest outside of a viewer’s viewpoint, which motivates them to explore other gaze angles. The idea for these VR videos was to gently instruct viewers that they needed to actively look around in order to find the hidden cosplay character in the scene.

The creative team discussed how to stage the hidden character so that she was just hidden enough within the scene to make a viewer enjoy the challenge, while not making the character so hard to find that viewers would disengage.

Testing composition

Conducting multiple still and video test shots in VR 360 was the first step in establishing the proper distance between camera and the hidden character. As objects get too far from the VR camera they drop in resolution, making them harder to identify. The crew shot multiple shots during production so that they could dial the difficulty of the game up or down, using more- or less-challenging placement of the hidden character. Testing each shot in VR was critical for evaluating the experience: simply looking at the editorial footage in Adobe Premiere was very misleading and ineffective for making editorial decisions. The Hide and Go Geek crew had to shoot three times as much footage compared to the simple VR shots at the same event, to get the extra coverage needed for finding the right character placement. The extra filming boosted the overall work and cost of producing a gamified experience.

Shooting with the Jump VR camera

The two pieces were shot with a Google Jump VR Camera, which provided strong stereo 3D and high-resolution footage. The camera is large and heavy and requires a large tripod. In the crowded environment of the show floor, with many attendees approaching the camera for a closer look, the production team had to pay special attention to the safety and stability of the camera. The camera cannot film beneath itself, so the sound and camera operators were able to hide beneath the camera, often answering questions from attendees.

Getting Started Instructions

To give viewers a practice run at the game, the creative team added a “practice session” tutorial to lead the experience. Though some viewers might understand the “Hide and Go Seek” reference, it was important to remember that most viewers would not be familiar with in-headset VR video. Design elements such as the focus ring and timer, and production choices such as choosing recognizable cosplayers and ensuring a direct line of sight from the viewer to their target were also crucial to making the experience as successful as possible.

Play  “Hide and Go Geek” C2E2

You can see how the VR video turned out by watching the embedded 360 video from YouTube hereOf course, it’s much more fun and engaging in VR. To try it in VR, go to YouTube VR on your VR headset, and search for “SyFy Comic-Con.”

Play  “Hide and Go Geek” Emerald City Comic-Con

You can see how the VR video turned out by watching the embedded 360 video from youtube here.  However, it’s of course much more fun and engaging in VR. To try in VR, go to Youtube VR on your VR headset, and search for “SyFy Comic-Con”.