The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

The view from the front: Post with the Pros tackles virtual reality

Post with the Pros pulled together its most impressive roster yet for our virtual reality showcase. Demos from manufacturers HTC, NVIDIA, HP, Imagineer, Dolby and EditShare were followed by an expert panel led by our very own Jamie Allan, featuring Mike Davis (Creative Director at Alchemy VR), Oliver Kibblewhite (Head of Special Projects at Rewind), The Mill’s Creative Technologist Kevin Young and Halo’s Head of Audio Operations, Richard Addis. 

Highlights of the night included workflow tips from EditShare (above and beyond “use EditShare”, they recommend an Adobe editing workflow aided by Mettle’s SkyBox Studio 2 plugin), previews of of NVIDIA’s upcoming offerings (a VR WORKS 360 Video SDK that enables realtime stitching of 4K; Pascal architecture that’s up to 95% faster than the previous generation and capable of rendering out both ‘eyes’ of content for a head mounted display simultaneously), and the chance to try out immersive content from a range of our customers, as well as sampling content from the manufacturers themselves.

Story telling vs story living

While the VR market is growing massively, it’s still a relatively new medium, and our panel were keen to pin down how it should and shouldn’t be employed. Our experts were cautious of projects that treated VR like a new version of 3D TV rather than a unique medium, insisting that it needs to be applied to projects where “you think ‘there’s no way this could be any better in any other technology’.”

Rewind’s in-house philosophy makes a clear delineation between story telling – linear narrative, often delivered via 360 video – and story living – immersive experiences delivered via devices like Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE, where the user chooses their own path through the world and the creator’s job is to make sure that a) there’s somewhere for them to go and b) it can be rendered quickly enough when they get there.

Know your technology

Another challenge posed by VR, and often not realised by clients, was the cost of post-production. Not only is there a lot more footage to process, as rigs can run up to dozens of cameras, but as Mike pointed out, “A lot of people don’t think about the cost of painting things out of shot [when shooting 360]”. In Richard’s experience, “VR is rarely longer than 20 to 30 minutes, but the time you spend in post is far in excess of what you’d spend on a 60 minute TV show.”

The challenges aren’t limited to post-production, however. Different cameras will have fractionally different start times and colour differences that need to be compensated for; different brands have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to stitching several shots together to make a single VR space, and lengthy testing is needed to find out whether, for example, your actors can walk across one of these stitch lines without their face warping, or if you need to set up very specific marks and limits.

There’s also the fact that stitching the individual camera outputs together to make the final shot can take several days, so a director used to seeing instant playback will have to deal with long delays before they know whether they have the shot they want. (This can be sidestepped by strapping a handful of secondary cameras on top of your rig to give them a very rough onset stitch, according to Oliver.)

Devices and delivery

Richard predicts that over the next few generations, the hardware market for VR – which is currently very segmented – will coalesce, allowing for content to be delivered to multiple devices, or be optimised for one platform “so it’ll be like delivering for PlayStation or Xbox” rather than the current system, in which you need to know your target device and its limitations before you begin pre-production.

Oliver’s hopes for the future include “a target baseline level of controls – your HMD should include some sort of haptic feedback, it should have positional tracking, and you should make sure that you can meet a minimum level of experience, especially for interactive content.”

Is it worth it?

While Mike and the rest of the panel were aware that we hadn’t found “the ‘must-have’ content for home VR, like the Queen’s coronation was for television”, they were adamant that tackling the challenges of VR was worthwhile, and that rather than “3D, which got in the way of TV, which people were already comfortable with”, it offered a unique experience for the viewer that was distinct from any other media they have access to. “People are moved by VR in a way that they’re not by TV,” Kevin told us. “It’s something quite special.”

Here’s the full panel, for anyone interested:

Want to know more about how we can help you incorporate VR? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

VR headset firms come together to form virtual reality alliance

VR headset firms come together to form virtual reality alliance

Virtual reality’s march to victory continues, as Google, Facebook, HTC Vive, Samsung, Sony and Acer Starbreeze come together to form the Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA).

The worldwide cabal of headset manufacturers has been set up with the aim of promoting the growth of the global VR industry by developing and sharing best practice. It will also commission international research, create educational materials and host and participate in discussions about VR.

Taking his headset off for two minutes, general counsel for Oculus at Facebook Jordan McCollum said: “We’re still very much in the early stages of VR, so it’s critical that industry leaders work together to create and share ideas on how we can safely build this industry.

“I’m looking forward to working with other hardware makers to proactively address the challenges we need solve to make VR a success over the long term.”

HTC Vive senior vice president Rikard Steiber added: “It is important that we as an industry are working together to establish best practices and common resources for our industry that will drive toward the $120 billion projection by 2020.

“The GVRA represents industry leaders and hardware manufacturers across the globe who are creating the best VR experiences available.”


Want to know more about virtual reality-ready solutions? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Your virtual reality content kit list

Your virtual reality content kit list

If you want to get students creating virtual reality content of their own, you’re going to need to get your hands on the right hardware. As well as the very chic headsets you’ll have seen demos of, you’re also going to need a workstation and a VR-ready graphics card. Here’s what we recommend.

HTC Vive

HTC Vive is our favourite of the recent crop of headsets. It’s designed for ‘room scale’ VR, in which each participant interacts with objects, characters and environments in a limited space (so ideal if you’re converting a broom cupboard in your media department into a VR space).

Each player is equipped with a wireless sensor that boasts 24 sensors and SteamVR tracking technology, which combine to give realtime feedback on a player’s location within the room, enabling more realistic interactions and unobstructed movement. To counteract participants’ tendency to wander into walls while immersed in VR, the Vive has a built-in guidance system called Chaperone. If you double tap a menu button, or are about to hit a real-world obstacle, Chaperone drops an overlay of the real world onto your VR environment, so you can veer away from any walls, furnishings or people you don’t want to collide with.

Bear in mind, though, that having the headset alone is not enough – you need to opt for a kit that includes base stations, link boxes and face cushions to ensure that you’re ready to go. HTC are offering a Business Edition of the Vive that combines all of these, and adds in a commercial use licence should you want to put your Vive to work recouping its own cost.

HP workstations

Rich media work is always demanding on your hardware, and creating and powering virtual reality content is no exception.

If you’re already using Avid-approved HP workstations for video editing, animation, or VFX-related courses, the top end of these will be suitable for virtual reality work, too – we recommend an HP Z840, as these workstations are not only powerful in and of themselves, but allow plenty of room for expansion should you want to increase your capabilities in the future.

As well as the towers themselves, we offer accessories, warranties, storage and infrastructure solutions, so can help you update an existing media lab, install a new one, or add additional machines on their own network so that working with VR content doesn’t slow things down for anyone else.

One thing that you need to bear in mind, whether you’re buying new workstations or updating existing ones, is that you’re going to swap out your standard graphics card for a 3D-ready one.

A 3D-ready graphics card

NVIDIA/PNY have already got two cards ready for you: the 16GB P5000 and 24GB P6000, both of which should work with your HP workstations. These cards harness NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU technology, and offer enormous memory capacity so that you can work with ever-larger data sets and more complex visuals.

If you’d like a hand putting your 3D workstations together, you can get in touch with our team on the details below, or come along to our virtual reality event on 8th February to see how industry professionals are using VR in their new projects (you can register for that here).

Want to know more? Give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.