This VR Project is the first of its kind for 9iFX – The creative genius that is the Juliet Zulu crew tapped our VFX team to create a fully immersive 360 degree VR short film experience chalk full of a wide range of specialized motion graphics and visual effects for the launch of Puma’s new evoTOUCH boot. Working closely with creative director Jayson Bosteder, our VFX supervisor, Michael Miller pulled a lot of late nights to see this epic passion project come to fruition.
The project is a full two and a half minutes of CG, 360 degree action. Taking a little under 5 weeks to complete, we rendered, In total, over 4500 4K CG finished frames. There are animated, swirling nebulas happening on all sides of the viewer – EG you have to actually turn your head to see them all. The piece also features flying asteroids, tractor beams, and projections of live action players in the sky – featuring Cesc Fàbregas who plays for Chelsea FC.
It’s really fun to play in the VR environment where we could have an amorphous ball materialize and be kicked from one end of the horizon to the other. But don’t look away for too long – you’ll miss what is going on behind you. With so many things going on in the VR space, you could experience the project multiple times, and still not catch everything.
To pull off these effects, we used a variety of plugins in C4D for the 3D elements of the project and composited it all using Adobe After Effects. One of the challenges we faced with this project was a constantly growing and changing delivery length – As new ideas for more epic VFX were brought into the project scope, we had to remain flexible to accommodate the changes and act quickly to meet our short deadline. To help manage each new addition and remain flexible with our animation as new ideas were introduced, animator Chris McCard used X-particles in C4D to dynamically add and subtract sequences with relative ease and speed.
We used the Mettle Skybox plugin and the HTC Vive to preview early renders of the project and test the rough animatics during each phase of the project. Using the HTC Vive, we noted quickly that getting the lighting to remain cinematic in a 360 degree environment was going to be a tricky endeavor because it is difficult to accomplish without some parts of the environment appearing flatly lit. We were able to solve this by rotating our lighting rig 90 degrees giving our subjects a rim and fill cinematic look.
9iFX also got to delve into app development to create the user interface video player for the Oculus Rift. To complete this, we brought in some outside help.
To finish off the project, Juliet Zulu worked with the sound team at Digital One to create stereoscopic sound effects to really give an immersive feel to the experience. In a 360 degree environment, it’s easy to miss the action if you happen to be looking the other way, so using a combination of sound effects and visual cues, we set up the project to pull the viewer’s eyes where we wanted during the experience.
The 360-degree immersive film can be experienced with Google Cardboard on mobile and on desktop with the mouse and WASD keys. We recommend you check it out with a VR headset, or Google Cardboard. You can pick up one of these cardboard head pieces here.