Saturday, June 23, 2018
  • Friday, Aug. 19, 2016
Kevin Shuster, is executive producer at ad agency Team One where he’s focused on digital and virtual reality projects.
POV (Perspective)
Booked a VR Acting Gig? What You Need to Know

So you’ve heard the buzz about “VR” and “360 Videos.” Or perhaps you’ve seen a couple of these experiences on YouTube or maybe even – but what does this mean for you, the actor? What should you expect when you book a gig for a 360 shoot?

The following is a list that will help you when the times comes:

Always On 
Unlike a typical video/film shoot, in scene means on camera. Actors are always visible. Since these shoots use multiple cameras/multiple lenses to capture 360, it doesn’t matter where you are standing (unless you are hiding behind something), the cameras will see you, and thus, the Viewer will see you. Think “Theater-in-the-Round.” The audience surrounds the stage making everything on that stage viewable. Unlike traditional filmmaking where scenes can be edited with different angles or close-ups, as a VR director, I have little control over where my Viewer is looking at any one point during the film. Always stay engaged, always be in character and remember that every facial expression and gesture is being watched whether you’re talking or not.
Long Takes 
For VR shoots that do not include any forms of interactivity (i.e. selectable “hot spots), there will usually be one setup. The camera rig will be positioned as a first person POV, an object’s POV or a third person POV. For example, if I’m shooting with a six-camera rig, all the actors will run the scene from beginning to end without any interruptions. For the actor, flubbing a line or missing your blocking leaves the take unusable, requiring everyone to go back to first position. There is no way to edit in post-production. Be prepared for multiple takes! 
Viewer is the Camera
The viewer can actually be an additional virtual character within the scene. Everything is seen from the POV of that character -- so you’ll need to make sure you are looking into the correct camera(s) to get the eye line correct.
Where’s the Crew? 
Again, because the cameras see all, no crew members, including the director, can be in the scene. The crew must be hidden or in another room. A work-around I’ve used is to connect iPads, via Wi-Fi, to the cameras in the room, allowing me to see what was going on without being in the room itself.
Where are the Lights? 
For the most part, existing or practical lighting is all that will be present on the set. Any artificial lights, tripods, dollies, etc. cannot be on the set because they will show up on camera. This goes for booms too. Your actors will need to be laved (lavaliered).

About the author

Shuster is also a screenwriter, director and producer of feature films, TV and short films. Additionally, he has his own production company, 4 Moon Entertainment.