Virtual Reality Video Production
At PGA TOUR Entertainment, we have been creating virtual reality videos as another way to explore and deliver entertaining content to our fans. Creating in this kind of medium with new technology involves a lot of conceptualizing and trialing unique ways to tell a story. Everything from how we shoot the subject, to how we edit in post-production must be created with a 360-degree world in mind.
Back in August of 2016, we got our hands on our own 360-video equipment that would allow us to shoot and edit our own content for this new medium. With two cameras, two tripods, and a computer capable of processing 360 videos, we had the necessary gear to go out and start shooting 360 content for our digital platforms. From the start, we knew that stitching would be the biggest challenge we would face in creating quality VR content.
The camera that we use is made up of 6 GoPro cameras all pointing in different directions to create a sphere. Once we load the 6 video files onto a computer, we must stitch them together, much like a panoramic picture.
We use an editing program called Kolor, which gives us the necessary tools to stitch and manipulate the 360 worlds the viewer will eventually experience.
After several test shoots and countless hours in front of a computer, we made plans to travel to Atlanta for the FedExCup Playoffs final event, the TOUR Championship. Our goal was to shoot as much inside-access content as possible, so we could give the viewer at home a chance to see what it was like inside the ropes at a tournament as big as this one. We spent the final round following a handful of players who were all in contention to win, placing the camera as close to the action as possible. What occurred on the back nine during the final round was nothing short of spectacular. We placed our cameras in the perfect location for one of the greatest shots in TOUR Championship history; Rory McIlroy’s iconic fairway hole-out on number 16 to tie for the lead. We were there as he won on the 4-hole playoff, and we left with raw footage that we know could be a fantastic VR experience for our fans.
Rory McIlroy had won the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup in stunning fashion. The script had nearly written itself and all we needed to do was pull the best shots that we captured to create a story that would give the viewer an incredible immersive experience. To date, this was the biggest project that we had taken on in 360 internally. We worked with third parties before and this time, we did everything end-to-end. We learned very quickly while we stitched these videos together, that it is a much harder task when you have hundreds of people moving in all different directions around the camera. This was quite a challenge and the only solution we had was time. The more time we spent trialing and finding new ways to stitch in Kolor, the more familiar we became with the program. Eventually, the videos were stitched up, looked great, and were ready for the next step in the editing process.
We moved the 360 videos into the Adobe Creative Suite and Cinema 4D programs which presented us with the next challenge, creating graphics for the virtual world. Thomas Collier is the man behind our 360 graphics and had to spend a lot of time figuring out the details involved with creating graphics for a new medium like VR. Building graphics into this piece of VR content enabled us to create a new kind of immersive experience for the viewer. We inserted floating monitor graphics to highlight the simulcast so the viewer could look up and see what was happening down the fairway. We also created the first ever pro-tracer in VR, allowing viewers to see the ball-flight through the air. We added leaderboards so that the viewer could gain a better understanding of context for each shot. Lastly, we created some 4-dimensional title graphics that were situated on various parts of the ground, giving the viewer quick updates. These graphics were conceptualized and created out of the desire to create a more immersive and engaging experience for our fans.
What we’ve come away with is an incredible 360-degree video from one of the greatest FedExCup Playoff events in history, along with loads of experience and appreciation for creating 360 content. We are working hard to practice, learn more, and hone our skills. We have already captured and edited 360 content from the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Open, and we are planning to work all three Florida-based tournaments in the upcoming months.
For more PGA TOUR 360 and VR content, check out our work on the PGA TOUR Facebook page as well as the full immersive experience through the Samsung Gear VR, by downloading the PGA TOUR app in the Oculus store.