Ever wonder what a VR creator carries around in their Data Kit? Russell Sutter shows us what it takes to capture high-resolution VR video footage.
Building Your VR Data Kit
Russell (XR Creator at Wundervu, Pixvana’s XR Studio) uses two very different laptops: A 13 inch Macbook Pro for file transfer and organization, and a Razer Blade for on-site stitching and rendering.
Aside from the hardware, it takes A LOT more to produce amazing content that captivates your audience and keeps them coming back for more. Here’s the essential VR software that Russell relies on to create killer immersive experiences.
Adobe Premiere Pro is a pretty standard editing software that most creators know like the back of their hand. Interestingly enough, if it wasn’t’ for this specific software we wouldn’t be talking to Russell today. He credits this software to not only starting his career in film creation, but also is why he believes he landed the job with Pixvana. Adobe Premiere is an extremely versatile editing software that typically performs well without letting its users down.
To export various file formats from one to the other, Russell relies on Adobe Media Encoder. He is also a fan of Adobe After Effects which is used during the production process to track, correct, and composite shots while on set.
If needed, Russell uses Davinci Resolve, a color grading software used for adding in quick temporary color to a shot that makes it presentable for dailies.
Speed is essential for a lot of things, but especially for a creator’s hard drive. One of Russell’s primary tools is the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, a software that allows him to run speed tests on his hard drive – because who wants a slow hard drive? Since Russell is a VR creator he uploads – at a minimum – about 4x more footage than regular film, making it essential to have fast transfer speeds.
Russell has begun to employ of ShotPut Pro, an industry leading offloading application. This application has a super simple interface with extremely robust copying speeds. He primarily uses this software for larger projects such as Art of the Play featuring Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
There’s also some dedicated VR software in Russell’s kit, including Autopano Video Pro and Autopano Giga for stitching and prepping 360 video footage. Out in the field, he is able to use these tools to test and preview stitches to determine where the stitch lines are and ensure that the camera is setup correctly to confirm he is getting seamless (as possible) stitch lines.
Depending on the camera used, Russell may require specialty software such as Redcine-X which is used to transcode, apply color correction and check the quality control of any footage from a RED camera. He was actually able to use this software on Pixvana’s own Art of the Play and the Video Fashion Shoot.
Another proprietary software is the Z CAM controller. This tool allows VR creators not only be able to control the camera remotely, but also send a feed from camera to a computer where they can preview the images, live, in a headset.
Once a shoot is done, Russell will need to prepare “dailies” or “selects” of the day’s shoot for client or director review. To do this, he will upload 360 footage to Pixvana SPIN Studio, place the footage in a SPIN, and pair the client’s headset with the SPIN. The client will then have access to all of the footage in the cloud, so he or she can pick and choose his or her favorite scenes and takes in a headset.
Let’s start with Russell’s favorites – he loves his Pegasus 9 TB Raid Storage Arraywhich is basically an extremely large storage unit best known for its redundancy. This machine is able to make copies extremely fast, thus speeding up the process of storing and copying large media files.
Another one of Russell’s must-haves is his 2 Terabyte hard drives for quick and easy travel. Putting that into basic terms, this drive is able to hold about 2048 GB of data. With this much storage, Russell
is able to store a ton of footage without the worry of running out of space in the middle of his best shot.
One more crucial component of his data kit is a Kanex Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 Adapter. This device is able to turn a thunderbolt ½ Port into a USB3.0 Port which speeds up data management, giving his system even more power than it already has.
Russell also has your traditional array of card readers from SD/CF, SxS, and CFAST 2.0. Which all act differently between audio and visual, but essentially are there to speed up the download of high resolution content.
Continuing with the classics, he also carries with him various cables, Apple Thunderbolt adapters, and SD to MicroSD adapters which ensure that all of his equipment is able to be hooked up to whatever machines he needs them to be connected to.
Moving away from accessories let’s shift into the little things: the things that are essential to a data kit, but yet are often forgotten until you desperate need them – which of course will always happen.
Some of these little things include iPhone chargers, 3.0 thumb drives, power banks, a USB mouse, and gaffer tape paired with a black sharpie. Russell also is never caught without his Bose over-the-ear headphones.
Let’s not forget VR headsets! Russell is always armed with a variety of devices at all times. He likes to carry around the Oculus Rift which allows him to preview what is happening on screen in the headset. Since you can’t be limited to only one, he also carries a Samsung Gear VR or Oculus GO for camera control and a cleaner preview.
Russell Sutter is from Woodside, CA and holds a degree in Cinema and Business from the University of Oregon.
His interest in film and cameras started early on in his life; they developed throughout high school and college and eventually blossomed into a career in video production.
Growing up in the heart of Silicon Valley, Russell became fascinated by the technology behind film making, employing it to produce exciting, compelling, and emotional narratives. Over time, he hopes VR and 360 video grow into something that is not only accessible, but enjoyable and able to provide experiences and connections like no other media can.