film festival

02 t/m 06
nov 2016


Interview met VR regisseur Stephen Beckett

Tijdens InScience 2016 kon je films bekijken ontworpen voor VR-brillen. Van deze films zijn er 3 gemaakt door Stephen Beckett (BBC Click). Beckett heeft veel ervaring op het gebied van het 360⁰ filmen en wij hadden de kans om hem daarover te interviewen.

You produced (at BBC Click) the first television program completely filmed in 360⁰. How did this idea come about?

Stephen: As much as possible we like to really use new technology on Click rather than just talking about it – last year we filmed and edited an episode only using phones and tablets, and this year we wanted to challenge ourselves again. Making a 25 minute programme in 360⁰ felt like a good way to do this.

There’s lots of great shorter 360 content out there now, but not many people are looking at whether 360 can work for telling stories in longer formats. So for us, the show was also a way of exploring this question.

The full program contains a lot of different subjects: glaciers, a hydrology lab, CERN and even the Click studio backstage. How and why did you pick your subjects for this specific episode

Stephen: There’s a temptation when you’re planning 360 films to immediately go for the most exciting shots you can think of – I’m talking strapping the viewer to a fighter jet or locking them in a shark cage. 360 definitely is brilliant for that sort of thing – but for the Click show we wanted to make sure that we still had strong science and tech stories at the core, like a normal episode of the programme.

At the same time the content also still had to be ‘good in 360,’ that’s to say making the most of what 360 can offer, things like immersion and presence. I definitely subscribe to the idea that 360 isn’t the right way to tell every story, if you can tell it brilliantly using traditional methods, then you probably should. I’d like to think that in our case though 360 really adds something for the viewer, rather than just being an interesting gimmick.

You were basically pioneering with this new technology for your format. Were there any difficulties you came across that you didn’t expect and how did you deal with them?

Stephen: We’re still at the very early stages of 360 filmmaking, so in a sense we’re waiting for the technology to catch up. It quite exciting, because it does feel like you’re discovering and experimenting, but it also means it’s a much slower and more complicated process compared to traditional filmmaking.

Beyond the creative challenges of how to tell stories in this new way, you’re also working with the 1st generation of the cameras and software tools. That meant we spent a lot longer than we normally would on post-production, trying to make shots perfect, and not have the presenter’s face disappear for example when he moves between cameras.

That said though, it’s great that we’re at the stage where this is possible at all, and with better, more affordable cameras and software coming out all the time, it does feel like interest in VR and 360 is snowballing.

The episode has been out now for several months. What has the audience response been like? Do they take to the new medium and its possibilities?

Stephen: We’ve had some really great feedback for the show – for a lot of people it has been their first taste of virtual reality, so there’s been lots of excitement from viewers.

One criticism I have had is that I look a quite bored during the CERN piece (I am the person carrying the camera at one point) – actually I was just intensely focussed on getting a smooth shot! But yes, it was a great challenge to take on and there is a lot of interest in us telling more stories in 360.

What about you and the people at BBC Click, are you interested in making more episodes this way? Do you have ideas about where you could take it?

Stephen: We’re not looking at creating a full episode again right now – until the tech catches up it’s a big undertaking for a weekly show like Click. We definitely are working on a number of individual 360 stories though, and something I’m also hoping to do soon is to create a more interactive feature involving elements of virtual reality. I can’t say exactly what we’re working on yet, but there will certainly be some new technology and science 360 content coming from Click in the near future.