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Take a VR / 3D Tour of Vogue Super Model Closets

Alex MacLean Excels at VR/3D Post Production Using SCRATCH VR

ROGUE, a creative boutique in NYC (www.postgonerogue.com), specializes in high-end production and post-production for film, advertising, and digital. Since its founding two years ago, Executive Creative Director, Alex MacLean and his team have produced a large body of work demonstrating their expertise in Color Grading, Finishing and Visual Effects with clients like HBO, Vogue, Google, Vice, Fader, and many more.

For the past three years MacLean has also been at the forefront of VR/360 content for narratives and advertising, and understands the challenges and rewards of post artists working in VR. 

MacLean did the post production of four five-minute episodes of 360-degree tours of "Supermodel Closets". The series is a project of Conde Nast Entertainment and Vogue for Vogue's 125th anniversary in September 2017. See what the supermodels wear in day-to-day life by stepping into a virtual-reality (VR) 3D tour of some of the most famous closets. You'll be able to look all around and feel immersed in the closet of each model as she shows her favorite fashions and shares the stories behind their most-prized pieces.  

MacLean worked with Julina Tatlock, Director and CEO of 30 Ninjas (http://www.30ninjas.com), an award-winning digital entertainment company that develops, writes, and produces dynamic and engaging VR, multi-platform and interactive content. ROGUE and 30 Ninjas worked together to determine the best workflow for the series. "I always think it's best practice to collaborate with the directors, DPs, and/or production companies in advance of a VR shoot to sort out any technical issues and pre-plan the most efficient production process from shoot, to edit, stitching, through to all the steps of post-production. Foresight is everything; it saves a lot of time, money, and frustration for everyone, especially when working in VR, as well as 3D," said MacLean.  

"In this case we were all working with a new camera format, the YI HALO camera, which is designed for professional VR data acquisition," said MacLean. "I often turn to the Assimilate team to discuss the format issues because they always support the latest camera formats in their SCRATCH VR tools. This worked well again because I needed to define an efficient VR and 3D workflow that would accommodate the conforming, color grading, creating of visual effects, and the finishing of a massive amount of data at 6.7K x 6.7K resolution."

"Also, SCRATCH VR really eases the workload for us because it's a streamlined, real-time workflow, which saves enormous amounts of time."

"The post-production process began by downloading 30 Ninjas' editorial, stitched footage from the cloud to ingest into our MacPro workstations to do the conform at 6K x 6K," explained MacLean. "Organized data management is a critical step in our workflow, and SCRATCH VR is a champ at that. We were simultaneously doing the post for more than one episode, as well as other projects within the studio, so data efficiency is key."

"We then moved the conformed raw 6.7K x 6.7K raw footage to our HP Z840 workstations to do the color grading, visual effects, compositing, and finishing. You really need powerful workstations when working at this resolution and with this much data," said MacLean. "Spherical VR/360 imagery requires focused concentration, and then we're basically doing everything twice when working in 3D. For these episodes, and for all VR/360 projects, we create a lat/long that breaks out the left eye and right eye into two spherical images. We then replicate the work from one eye to the next, and color correct any variances. The result is seamless color grading."

"We essentially use headsets as a creative tool with SCRATCH VR, because we can work in real time in an immersive environment and see the exact results of work in each step of the post process," said MacLean. "This is especially useful when doing any additional compositing, such as clean-up for artifacts that may have been missed, or adding or subtracting data. Working in real time eases the stress and time of doing a new composite of 360 data for the left eye and right eye 3D."

"Playback of content in the studio is very important to us, and then the choice of multiple headsets add another piece to the VR/360 puzzle," said MacLean. "The VR/3D content can look different in each headset so we need to determine a mid-point aesthetic look that displays well in each headset. We have our own play-back black box that we use to preview the color grading and visual effects, before committing to rendering. And then we do a final QC review of the content, and for these episodes we did so in Google Daydream (untethered), HTV Live (tethered), and the Oculus Rift (tethered)." 

"Rendering is one of our biggest challenges," says MacLean. "It's really imperative to be diligent throughout all the internal and client reviews prior to rendering. It requires being very organized in your workflow from production through finishing, and a solid QC check. Content at 6K x 6K, VR/360, and 3D means extremely large files and numerous hours of rendering, so we want to restrict re-rendering as much as possible. Fortunately, SCRATCH VR is very solid when it comes to rendering," stated MacLean.

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