Prior to Broken Night, we had a longstanding working relationship with Hidden Content supporting their post production and workflow needs from their inception as a company. Hidden Content was one of the earliest VR production companies, starting out working with prototype VR cameras and being one of the first companies to test and use the Nokia OZO VR camera (which Broken Night was captured on). We had worked with them along the way to solve technical challenges ranging from camera usage and data management to post workflow and finishing. Our rapport with Hidden Content, experience, and infrastructure resources made us a great fit for the Broken Night team.
For a project with as many complications as this one, pre-production work was critical in setting up the project for success in post. We met with Eko, who was handling the concept and writing as well as editorial, and Hidden Content, who was handling production, to work out the details required in capturing and organizing the various parts and branches of the film. Additionally, we met with Realmotion to advise on the particular challenges of working in the equirectangular VR perspective in terms of assembly, compositing, and visual storytelling.
To account for the huge amount of media we were planning to shoot, we worked with the Eko team to plan for the final combined runtime of the piece and ran data calculations to figure out what our storage needs would be on set for the OZO raw codec and then in post for the enormous 4K stereoscopic DPX stacks we would be generating.
After the initial planning stage, we accompanied the production team on location scouts and shooting tests. We advised the team on a number of location-specific issues such as optimal camera placement and blocking to account for lens stitch lines. By considering the various technical elements at play for each setup, we were able to manage the additional cleanup VFX work that would be required.
During production, we were responsible for managing the monitoring which we setup a 42” LED TV to display our UI via a Mac Pro using OZO Remote as well as managing the camera media and offloading to drives. We were also able to continue to advise of the technical implications of the various on-the-fly choices being made to make sure that post would stay as smooth as we had planned. As every creative conversation had a technical foundation, we were able to offer insight to the creative team and collaboratively work towards the best choices.
Once production wrapped, we processed all of the raw media to generate offline editorial files. The files we generated were low-quality, low-resolution monoscopic stitched versions of each shot that processed quickly and allowed the editorial team to begin putting the piece together.
As various segments of the edit locked we were able to begin processing the online assets. We generated both stereoscopic stitched 4K DPX versions of each shot to be used as the foundation as well as unstitched 2K square versions of each of the 8 individual camera lenses to be used for any necessary VFX cleanup.
The rendering was an enormous task due to the quantity of media required. The total render time was over 200 hours spread across multiple workstations within our facility.
As we delivered the online assets to the VFX team, the VFX were completed and the segments were delivered to Eko for final assembly in their custom built VR playback engine.
The project ended up being a big success on the festival circuit, premiering in the Virtual Arcade at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and later going on to play at NEXT in the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The project was chosen as an Honoree in the Film & Video - VR category of the 2018 Webby Awards.