The gaming and animation world has long embraced Virtual Reality and with apps and programs like Oculus Rift, Twitch, Pokemon Go, and countless others, its possibilities seem limitless. Now, filmmakers across the globe are slowly warming up to the format as well. Steven Spielberg is making a VR Film,Ready Player One, which is coming in 2018, and closer to home, Bahubali fans are soon to be treated with a VR cut of the sequel and AR Rahman is all set make his directorial debut with a VR film called LeMusk. Meanwhile, lyricist and composer Eddie Avil and sound engineer Ashley Rodrigues, are also trying their hands on the format and they have picked the horror as their genre.
While VR horror has seen an explosion of content in the short film format internationally, this 12-minute short, titled Crackle, is touted at India’s first VR horror short. According to Eddie and Ashley, although virtual reality has been explored in India before, no one has ever completed a story line using Virtual reality as a platform. We caught up with the duo to know more. Excerpts:
What should the audience expect from this film?
Eddie Avil: Nobody has attempted 3D 360 -degree VR Horror Short in our country before. So, it is a first of its kind.
Ashley Rodrigues: We focused on the immersive experience of VR for this project. We thought it would be a great genre to explore. In VR the viewer is literally in the centre of the movie. It’s a whole different way of storytelling and viewing a movie. We hope to give our viewers an unforgettable experience.
What are your backgrounds and what made you take up VR?
Ashley: We are sound engineers and had started an audio production house. We have been in the industry for more than 20 years. We dabbled in video production a couple of years ago made a couple of music videos. A client of ours wanted us to figure an immersive solution for their marketing needs. We thought of VR and researched the options and what we dug up really piqued our interest.
Eddie: I have been a musician all my life and discovered VR because of a client’s requirement. I believe VR is one of the most radical technologies that have hit our world. It has the power to blur the lines of our reality once it converges with Haptic Technology. The possibilities are endless.
Why did you choose this particular story for this medium?
Eddie: VR is an impactful medium so we had to think and write a story that would do justice to the medium.
Ashley: The story is very simple. It is about five friends having fun when they decide to hold a seance and then the experience begins. Traditionally we have viewed movies in a rectangular format. Imagine watching a horror film and turning back only to be confronted by something truly spine chilling. It is very much like a real-life situation.
How different is shooting a virtual reality film? And what were the main challenges you faced?
Eddie: It’s unlike 2D filming and it is a severely technically challenging medium. Each scene was thought about with the camera placement and was rehearsed a few times so we understand the look and feel of it before we did the final shoot.
Ashley: You have to unlearn all you learned about film making. In regular film making the camera man guides the viewer to show what the director wants them to see. While in a 360 video the viewer decides what they want to see. So it’s tricky to guide the viewer to where the action is and it’s quite possible that you may miss an experience or two when you first watch the film. Each time you watch the film you will get another perspective. Since the camera captures 360 degree, no one else can be in the frame. Thumb rule is that if you can see the camera the camera sees you. Also, you cannot add extra lights as it would take forever to remove them off in postproduction. So, while shooting, the entire crew used to hide behind whatever is available.
How can one watch the film?
Ashley: Since it is in 3D, we would recommend watching the film with a VR headset like google cardboard or the many options available now. You could also watch it on your phone and YouTube.
Eddie: We are talking to a few OTT platforms and we will keep the audience posted on where and how to watch it.