Last week in LA there was the third user lead VR-LA get together. The first was held at Digital Domain and the second was at the birthplace of Oculus Rift – USC ICT. Between the first and the third get togethers the event has exploded; some five hundred people queued to get inside New Deal Studios and see the latest VR demos and hear talks such as New Deal’s co-founder Matthew Gratzner on his experiences in directing and filming a WW2 short film for VR. Matthew teamed up with Jaunt VR to make the production.
Jaunt VR makes the camera rigs and the software that solves the camera inputs into a stereo pair of correctly stitched images that you watch in the Oculus Rift. Jaunt VR has just received a $27.8 million round of funding, allowing it to scale its technology and deliver its immersive omnidirectional 3D experiences to mass audiences via either the Oculus Rift or one of the newer VR helmets being now developed.The Series B round of funding was led by the extremely influential Highland Capital Partners with participation by Google Ventures.
New Deal Studios has long moved to be more than a traditional special effects company, embracing both digital VFX and new technologies like the Rift, without leaving their physical expertise behind. For example, Gratzner wanted to drop the VR camera rig (of which there are only a few in the world) via a WW2 parachute to kick off his film, so the New Deal Studios team built a special rig to safely do just that.
Jaunt VR has been busy making content from red carpet premieres to being live on stage with Paul McCartney. In this week’s Background Fundamentals class you can see the whole interviews with Matthew Gratzner of New Deal Studios and Scott Broock, VP of Content at Jaunt VR. In that longer interview Matthew discusses the various directorial issues behind making a film where the audience can be looking anywhere. Not only does that present issues for hiding lights or sound, but it requires a whole new playbook on how to move the camera or how to draw the viewer’s attention to plot points. The film, called The Mission, is in post-production, and will be released soon.
For this first outing the film’s effects are primarily being done in camera via real explosions, bullet hits and squibs. but in the future New Deal will be exploring the VFX VR pipeline more directly. The Mission was shot in Petaluma, in northern California, over several days with tanks, extensive physical effects and a complex WW2 re-enactment. Matthew Gratzner presented the initial work at VR-LA. The film was shot 360 degrees on a prototype Jaunt VR rig.