Life In 360° Extra: The Making Of Dragonwatch 360° VR Experience

We revisit Friday's Life In 360° video, as Producer Lowell Oswald Jr discusses how it came to be.

No you’re not mistaken, you’re reading a Li360 on a Sunday. But this is one occasion where we’ve actually received some more information about a video after publishing that is actually worth a follow-up. So welcome to Life In 360° Extra – an extremely irregular addition to the VRFocus line-up.

On Friday we brought you a 360 degree video from Shadow Mountain Publishing, promoting the latest book in Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven series of fantasy novels. One which put you in the centre of the circle formed by returning Fablehaven characters the Singing Sisters.

Now, we’ve more on the creation of the video from it’s Prodcuer, Lowell Oswald Jr of Strillogy Productions. As well as some behind-the-scenes images from the production.

While scouting the locations for the Dragonwatch trailer, I came across a place I hadn’t been in years. The Homestead Crater in Midway, UT was somewhere I had visited many times growing up during the winter seasons. It had been more than ten years since my last visit to this unique local hotspot. Upon entering, the warm moist air and smell of the crater brought a rush of memories from my childhood.

As I stood on the dock surrounded by water I knew this place would be perfect..but only if I could capture the feeling I had as I stood looking at the mist rolling off the water and the light bouncing around the cave walls.

Dragonwatch Fisheye View

While discussing the location options with Julia, the marketing manager for Shadow Mountain, she also mentioned this exact same location so I knew we had to use it.

I began working with our storyboard artist to capture the scenes as I had envisioned them. When we got to the cave section I felt disappointment that we may not be able to capture everything I had envisioned. With all the blocking, equipment, and limitations of filming in such a small area I knew it would be a struggle to bring the full effect of the crater to the screen.

Dragonwatch Video 1

Just a couple months prior to all of this I had been working more with VR/360 content and exploring the potential to bring this incredibly new immersive experience to more of our clientele. The costs had been prohibitive until new cameras from Samsung, Nikon, Ricoh (to name a few) starting popping up. The quality of the videos and images these produce still leaves much to be desired, but I knew it might be just enough to capture a little extra that wouldn’t be seen in the main video book trailer we were creating.

Dragonwatch Video 2

Our original budget for the trailer only covered enough to make a single trailer shot with our C500 4K camera and cinema lenses. However, since I had recently purchased a Samsung 360 camera for smaller projects and personal use I decided this was something I could bring on set to help capture everything I wanted to see.

After the storyboards were complete and the script was locked I began planning our each piece. I was drawn to the scene with the Singing Sisters. In the story, each of their hands/arms is fused to the other creating a full circle of the three. While working through the blocking challenges of this I realized that a 360 view of them surrounded by the crater would be an incredible way to capture a piece of this story in a more immersive way.

Dragonwatch Video 3

Our thanks to Lowell Oswald Jr and Andrea Thatcher for their help in bringing us new information on the video. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull is out next month.

You can of course read and watch the next edition of Life In 360° tomorrow on VRFocus at the usual time, where we will be stepping from fantasy books into the world of medicine.

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