At GDC 2014, Condition One was showing a rough cut of their forthcoming virtual reality documentary, Zero Point. After experiencing the film first-hand, I came away extremely impressed and convinced that virtual reality cinema will be part of our future. Condition One is now offering discounted pre-orders for the film which will release this Spring.
I’ve been talking about the possibilities of VR cinema for quite some time. But it wasn’t until today at GDC 2014 that I got to put my head into a such a promising VR cinema experience. I’ve seen some VR cinema demos in the past—short clips to demonstrate the tech—but never before have I seen a full narrative told within the medium, and never before with the quality and production value that Condition One is bringing to the table.
I saw a rough cut of the company’s forthcoming VR film, Zero Point through the Oculus Rift. The film, which is a documentary about virtual reality, combines CG segments with live-action recordings. Condition One is experimenting with various camera rigs and ways of filming for VR; the viewer sees a number of different shot layouts, from 180 degree wide angle shots to 360 degree footage. A fading transition between shots prevents the differences from being jarring.
The very latest footage is captured at 60 FPS using an array of Red Epic cameras. Each camera shoots at a resolution of 5120 x 2700, altogether the rig captures 60 times the resolution of standard HD. And it looks stunning. One of the scenes, featuring Jeremy Bailenson at the Stanford VHI lab, had beautiful depth to it. In it, Bailenson was sitting in a chair addressing the viewer directly. To the left was a thick cord dangling from the ceiling and plugging into a large HMD. I could easily feel the dimension of the room extending out before me; Bailenson felt like he was sitting just a few feet away from me with the cable to his left so clearly occupying its own space in 3D.
Another shot, featuring Mark Bolas from the MxR Lab, showed Mark behind an incredibly messy table filled with hot glue guns, soldering irons, materials, and other tools. In a way, the mess was beautiful. I could look around table while Mark was talking and I could almost feel what it was like to be in the lab. I could feel the character of the mess—that human hands were responsible for it. You can’t get that feeling out of the standard cinematography of today.
Through the DK1, the film cries out for higher resolution. Danfung Dennis, Condition One’s CEO, tells me they have all the resolution they need to bump things up when the DK2 hits, and even further beyond that.
Zero Point Available for Discounted Pre-order, Releases this Spring
This week Condition One opened the doors for discounted pre-orders for Zero Point. If you pre-order now you can get the film for $10, while the release price will be $15. The film is expected to run around 20 minutes and will release this Spring. Below you can catch a trailer for Zero Point: