Blend Blog

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Creator Voices: James Donald

Edie Walwyn / 3 days ago

From snowboarding down the white slopes of British Columbia, to chilling on the beautiful Australian coast; virtual reality filmmaker James Donald captures some of the world’s most unique scenes. We interviewed him about VR therapy, his favourite shooting locations, and much more. How did you become involved in 360° video production? It started as a hobby in 2014 after I got an Oculus Rift prototype. As a fan of documentary, music videos and film, I fell in love with the potential of 360˚ video as a new creative medium, and began learning how to shoot and produce content to share with friends and other producers. I started working commercially in production and licensing content in early 2016.  Are you working on anything exciting at the moment? An underwater piece on Giant Manta Rays, some tourism, surf and snow pieces. I’m also working with a university who provide social skills training for teens with Autism. We’re using 3D 360˚ video to create simulations of prosocial and antisocial behaviours and responses.

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Top 360˚ Content Creation Tips: Episode #002

Stelios Theocharous / 18 days ago

Welcome to episode two of our Top 360˚ Content Creation Tips series. The aim of this series is to provide useful tips to teach you how to shoot 360 degree video to the best of your ability. 360˚ video and immersive content creators can apply these tips and tricks to any future productions. In this series we talk about lighting and exposure for beginners, and at a more intermediate/advanced level, automated stitching algorithms in post-production. Level: Beginner Topic: Lighting / Exposure Tip: It’s a common misconception that you cannot and therefore should not control the lighting of a scene during a 360˚ video shoot. This misconception cannot be further from the truth and unfortunately lives on because it justifies less expenditure to the production. In most cases you should consider using practical light sources such as ceiling fittings, desk lamps, and almost any other home or office fixture. If the existing practical light sources aren't able to fulfil your creative intentions, an often unconsidered tip is to replace the bulbs for optimum luminance and to add dimmers to maximise the creative control you have of the light. If your scene requires the use of medium to large lighting set-ups, similar to traditional production requirements, you should consider fragmenting your scene to contain most, if not all, of the obtrusive lights within a single region of the 360˚ sphere. Don’t forget, it’s always wise to consider using practical props such as furnishings to hide the lights from the camera’s view. If you can’t sufficiently hide the lights, the following tips may be of interest: If your camera is moving, it’s advised to keep the lights as high as possible from the horizon line whilst still being fit for purpose to make clone-stamping and/or 3D projection as simple as possible. If your camera is static, it’s advised that you block your scene and direct the action to avoid crossing between the camera and the physical location of the light. Such a precaution will allow you to capture ‘clean plates’ (videos or photos from the exact same camera position which do not include the items you’d like to remove) to be taken after you’ve moved the lights. You can also hide your director, production crew, and client in the same portion of the scene that will be replaced by the clean plate. It’s also very important to bracket exposures while capturing static scenes, clean plates, and when using 360 degree video cameras with insufficient dynamic range for your scene.

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New York 360˚Creator Workshop, Meetup & NYVR

James King-Thompson / 21 days ago

The last trip we made to the US was for NY Ad Week in September where we hosted a panel on Storytelling in 360˚ video, we were happy to return, this time with our partners at Facebook 360 to meet with some creators, host a meetup and workshop and participate in the NYVR Conference and Expo. It was set to be a busy week! NYVR NYVR was a three day conference and expo to run in conjunction with the Photo Plus exhibition at the Jacob Javits Centre and was being positioned as the 'Premier VR/AR Event on The East Coast'. Conference sessions included Chentan Gupta from Facebook 360 on their strategies for bringing new media formats to market, Ken Perlin from NYU and The Future Realities Lab on the future of VR and AR and their convergence and a great panel discussion on Women in VR moderated by Debra Anderson from Datavized Technologies.

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The Magic of Blend Media's '360 stories'

James King-Thompson / 25 days ago

The Blend Media team have been working hard on creating a brand new web editing and publishing tool '360 stories'. This innovative, easy-to-use tool enables anyone to build rich interactive 360˚experiences that can be shared across the web and other social networks. You don't even need to download an app; all you need to do is create an account and log in! Brands, agencies and publishers can easily create 360 stories in three simple steps: Step 1: Upload 360˚ content. Choose from our own catalogue of 7,000+ videos, or choose a background of any colour, four different textures or upload your own 360˚ content. Step 2: Add your elements to the 360˚ scene to create a highly immersive and interactive experience. You can add: 2D Images 2D video Text Portals to other 360˚ scenes ‘Click to Action’ banners at the top & bottom Hyperlinks (clickable weblinks) into elements Step 3: Publish & Share. You are able to experience and view 360˚ stories in any browser and in a headset, such as Google Cardboard, HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.

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Top 3 360˚ video sporting campaigns of the month

James King-Thompson / a month ago

This month we have selected three of our favourite sporting 360˚ video campaigns and look at the different techniques used to increase engagement levels and reach. Campaign 1: Henrik Stenson Recreates Stunning 2016 Open Victory Brand: HSBC In this 360˚ video campaign, launched on 12th July 2017, we are immersed in the memories of professional Swedish Golfer, Henrik Stenson, as he recreates his remarkable 2016 Golf Open victory. Although this 360˚ video hasn't racked up as many views compared to the following two campaigns, this spot uses a number of clever techniques combined with a strong narrative. The 360˚ campaign begins to the sound of rotating helicopter blades, as we soar through the air with the use of a drone. We approach the golf course from the beautiful coastline and, of course, have the freedom to look around. The 360 degree video camera then cuts to the helicopter cockpit where you find yourself sitting next to Henrik, and simultaneously the noise from the rotary blades increases to heighten this sense of presence.

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Supporting great creatives from around the world

Simon Brooksbank / a month ago

Simon Brooksbank talks about joining Blend and how his team will support content makers around the world I’m thrilled to join the Blend Media team as Head of Video. It’s an unbelievably exciting time to be a part of this rapidly evolving industry. According to reports from Digi-Capital, the market for VR/AR will be worth $108 Billion by 2021. Ultimately, this growth will be driven by the amazing experiences built by passionate creatives around the world. So… who am I, and what is my team aiming to do to support the community of 360˚ and VR video producers?

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Oculus Connect 4: Infinite Potential

Ashley Blurton / a month ago

Last week, I attended Oculus Connect 4 in San Jose, California, with our CEO Damian Collier. It was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity to join a large number of VR enthusiasts from across the globe (over 2,900 according to Oculus' data). Although this groundbreaking event was only two days long, it was loaded with great talks, announcements, VR demos, and opportunities to meet some like-minded people. I could probably waffle on for days about all the cool things I learnt about, but I think it'd be better to distill it all down into something a little more digestible. I'd like to present to you the 360 things I learnt at Oculus Connect!

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