Ask virtually any purveyor of online video what demographic it’s targeting, and the answer is likely to be “millennials,” ages 18 to 34. Outside of a small older-trending sub-demo of hipster doofi, this is not a group that tends to be fans of the late crooner Frank Sinatra.
But that didn’t stop virtual reality prodco IM360 from making Ol’ Blue Eyes the focus “TFF: Sinatra at 100,” its new immersive concert app video app for Android and iOS that puts views in the middle of the Tribeca Film Festival tribute concert honoring Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday held at New York’s Spring Studios in April.
“The goal was both to showcase the technology and capabilities but also to present something that was outside of the ‘traditional’ subject matter for VR and immersive film-making and to get people thinking about how VR films can be utilized,” said Myles McGovern, president of the IM360, which filmed the concert and built the immersive app. “The other goal was to expose the technology to the community at the Tribeca festival while showcasing the innovation of the sponsor Lincoln.”
The free app features Sinatra classics such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “You Make Me Feel So Young” and “New York, New York” sung by artists including Ne-Yo, Lea DeLaria, Alice Smith and Brandon Flowers of The Killers.
IM360 worked closely with the talent and the stage crew to make sure the cameras and equipment didn’t intrude on the performers or the live audience. Not that it was so hard, because, as McGovern pointed out to VideoInk, “in a shoot like this the performers are generally very comfortable with having multiple cameras and operators involved, and the footprint of our equipment is very small (cameras range from 3 to 5.5 lbs.), meaning they can be placed in unobtrusive locations while still acquiring the type of footage required for VR experiences.”
Launched in the spring of 2015, IM360 is a joint venture between Oscar-winning VFX studio Digital Domain (“Titanic,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and 360-degree video pioneers Immersive Media. The company’s technology has previously been put to use for the “Blank Space” 360-degree music video by Taylor Swift, the TBS talk show “Conan” and the 2015 International Champions Cup (ICC) China soccer tournament.
McGovern first got a hint of VR’s entertainment potential when Immersive Media built its first 360-degree camera for defense applications back in 2005.
“I realized that for media and entertainment this was inevitable,” recalled McGovern, who is also president and CEO of Immersive Media. “Now we’re seeing the trickle down hardware that’s in reach of the consumer.”
Live performance, sports and video games content are clearly well-suited to the virtual reality platform. But traditional narrative formats, which need to direct the viewer to key plot points and action, pose problems for the platform.
“That’s true at the moment,” McGovern agreed. “But there’s no doubt however that VR film is pushing in to the narrative space. Hollywood is embracing this technology and films like ‘Defrost,’ “Rosie the Barber,” produced by Immersive Media and IM360, respectively, “’White Room 02B3′ and others are starting to explore what works and what needs rethinking and we feel that the story telling world is actually going to benefit most from this technology. Much like early films were essentially plays or vaudeville acts captured on camera, live events and sports are simply the most practical place to start, but we’re already seeing innovators try to develop much more story driven content.”