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Welcome to my blog!

On the right side you can find different categories that are part of my research. You are able to choose from the following ones:

There are also several post that regard consultations and conversations with people that are involved in this project. Those posts contain feedback on several parts of the graduation process. If you are interested in that, you read them with the following link:

Socrates Kakoulides: Feedback final product

*   What are the strong points?

You create an intimate environment which you invite your character to experience.  There is a candidness to the conversation that feels real.  Your roommate is someone who you feel like is speaking honestly and sharing real thoughts.

*   Where is room for improvement?

This video needs other perspectives.  Could you do a series of interviews like the one you did with your roommate?  Could you go to smoke shops around Amsterdam and have similar candid discussions about smoking in the Netherlands?  Amsterdam is a legendary place for smoking, and it would be so cool to hear about how smoking laws are being perceived from there.

*   What do you think is missing in the video?

Other perspectives.  It would be great to get different perspectives from smokers and non-smokers.  It would also be awesome to get outside perspectives and locations.

*   What is your opinion on the length of the video?

Its long than it should be for a one shot VR piece. It also doesn’t need the conceit of waiting for a phone call form the doctor.  That bit of plot does not add much.  If you can add other locations, it would be great to visualize is what it looks like to go from a room where people are smoking to a place where new anti-tobacco laws are being implemented.

*   Do you have an understanding of what kind of policies are made in the Netherlands regarding smoking?

Generally yes, but is there way of reinforcing the message between laws and perceptions of those laws by adding other perspectives.

Reflection

After having a slow start in my graduation process, I am very happy how it all ended. I never thought that I would be able to work alone on a project of this scale. In the beginning of this project I was very uncertain of myself and if I could pull it off. 360-degree videos was something I heard about and had seen a couple of them, but was quite unfamiliar with how they actually worked. This project has been a huge challenge and I have learned a lot from it.

At the start of this project it was a lot of searching on where the project was going, regarding the product and the context it would be viewed in. There was a lot of back and forth with the WHO, who did a great job with helping me figure it out. They helped me get in contact with several people, including the YPCDN and Socrates Kakoulides, who guided me through the process. I talked with a lot of different people on the phone, skype and email. That helped me a lot with getting more comfortable with communciating on a professional level, since that was not really my strong suit.

With not much knowledge on 360-degree video I started my research. With every week I started to enjoy the medium more and more. I saw it’s strenght, it’s potential and became facinated by the content creators.  I began to understand and appriciate what VR and 360-degree video and the creators of the medium were trying to do and want to keep following the development. At this point I feel like I have gained quite a lot of knowledge about it and can apply that to future projects.

Apart from the postive things, there were also some points that had room for improvement.

The research was more focussed on the medium in general and its technical ascpects, less on the content and the target group. In relation to the research question the focus should have been more on the latter one. Although the communication was strong in the beginning, I felt that during the last period it was kind of slow. That was mostly my fault, since I was to focussed on what I was doing and forgot to communicate that with the people who were there for my guidance and could give me feedback.

The product I made should’ve been given more attention and time. With my little experience on the practical side, I underestimated the difficulty of creating a 360-degree video. That resulted in the product being made less than two weeks before the deadline. I consider this inresponsible and unprofessional. If this was done right, the quality of the product could’ve been higher. It could have been  tested sooner and more, the feedback could’ve been received earlier and the product improved. With more effort I could’ve gotten more out of the it. But hindsight is always 20/20, so I need to remember this and learn from it.

Now at the end of my graduation I am at least certain I chose the right study direction. I enjoyed learning and working with new technology and explore new ways of storytelling. Altough it sounds really cliche, my goal is to keep moving forward on this path and develop myself into a better storyteller, take on new challenges, be more confident in what I do and look for new adventures.

 

Concept Session 6: Final Product

After creating a first and second version for the product of this graduation project, a final version was created.

This is a polished version of the second one. A bit of color grading has been done and the sound has been improved. The tripod removal has been polished, when looking directly down it looks the same throughout the whole video.

To get the full experience, it is recommended to watch this with a VR headset if possible.

Socrates Kakoulides gave feedback on this final product. It has potential, the conversation feels real but there is still room for improvement. Other perspectives would be a good addition. Unfortenatly, not all the feedback was received in time from the desired professionals to apply to the final version. When received this will be taken into the conclusion, discussion and the recommendations.

Concept Session 5: Product version 2

The unfortunate thing about 360-degree video is that it is hard to edit a new version of the video, often it needs to be filmed again. This has been done for the second version, based on the previous version and the feedback that was received. The video still needs some fine tuning. Things like the opening title, color grading, sound and other small parts need to be fixed. But the core of the video is done and can be tested.

Content wise the video is pretty much the same, since there was little problem with that part. However, the video has been made significantly shorter and a lot more of the actions are happening faster and flow more into each other.

Like mentioned above, the concept of the video is pretty much the same as the previous version. The idea is to allow the policymakers to look into a situation where several policies are active regarding prevention of the NCDs.

Feedback

This version has been shown to several people of different ages. From students with different disciplines to middle aged people were asked to say what they thought of the 360-degree video. The feedback comes from people who are not familiar with the NCD program or the WHO conference and have little to no experience with 360-degree video. The reason that their feedback was asked is because the target group cannot be approached directly, however, this can be used as an indication if the video can hold a viewers attention.

Those who have seen the first version said that it is significantly better in terms of duration and clarity. When asked what they thought was strong about the video, one of the students said: “The way the acting is done feels very natural and therefore trustworthy, this makes it enjoyable to watch as audience. I especially like that you and your roommate are doing a basic routine and always are doing something, for example playing darts. Furthermore the use of the 360 space is well used as you move around which keeps the viewer actively searching for information, but as you mentioned it is hard to embrace and be fully emerged without a VR headset.”

With that being said, some reflected that they find it to still a bit too long and that it could not hold their attention. The light from the little window was to bright and made the persons in the video to dark. The policies on smoking in the Netherlands were not being understood and did not understand the phone call with the doctor. Also they found that the cigarette packages were shown to fast. One of them stated that he did not see the use for it being the 360-degree video.

When asked what could be improved someone stated the following: “I think that in the dialogue and the transferring of the message could be some improvement, as sometimes I got lost in the casualness of the conversation and therefore missing the serious tone of the cause. This could possibly be solved by adding short pauses or putting a little more emphasis on important factors.” 

“What I think is missing is a clear conclusion in the end, maybe some kind of resolution with Jasper or a strong message given to the audience. Next to that I think that a different environment could add a little bit more to the concept, due to this convention being international and a Dutch student house might not be recognizable for all visitors. Subtitles could also be a good addition to make it a bit more understandable.”, told an graduating Art & Technology student.

The most prominent thing that was taken out of the feedback that was received, is that it is missing some clarity, especially near the end. Sadly, reshooting is not an option due the limitation of time. However, with these things in mind a final version will be made that is more polished. All the things that can’t be improved will be taken into account for the recommendations.

 

Concept Session 4: Product version 1

Based on the second script and the feedback I received from a skype conversation with Socrates a first version of the final product has been made.

To keep the experience of the video real and authentic, the interaction with the roommate is unscripted. The structure and the topic was communicated beforehand, but not written out. This came up in the conversation with Socrates. Removing the tripod out of the video was also managed. This was simply done with Adobe Photoshop, where a layer was created to put over the part where the tripod is.

To get the full experience, it is recommended to watch this with a VR headset if possible.

After some back and forth e-mailing with Claudia Tellegen, we came to the same conclusion: This video is a pretty good start for a first version, but looking at the first version, there are some things that should be changed.

First of all, the video is very long and almost a bit tedious, the next one should be shorter. The introduction, conversation with the roommate, phone call, basically everything, should be shorter.  A lot of the topics and actions are happening in a way so that first one things happens, it finishes and then the next one happens. It would feel less static if there is more of a flow in the things that happen in the video. Another thing that should be pointed out is that the introduction of the video and the rest of the video don’t match. These were taken from different times of the shoot. You can see a different coffee mug for example.

All of the things above will be taken into account when creating the second version of the video.

 

Testing: Conclusion

After done several tests with the Samsung Gear 360 and the Zoom H2n some things have been learned when it comes to creating 360-degree videos.

The first thing is the actual shooting part of these videos is that it is less hands on. Once recording, there is no touching the camera anymore and no live feedback. After the shot is made you can look it back through the Samsung Gear 360 app or on a computer. This takes significantly more time when comparing to creating traditional videos, so good preparations are a must. It is actually more time consuming in general. The stitching, editing, exporting and uploading (to YouTube) takes a lot of time, in my experience. This can get especially in the way when you want to review your work with a VR headset.

When not satisfied with the results, it is hard to edit the video to your likings. Since cutting in shot may result in your subject being suddenly moved in the scene which lessens the experience of the viewer. With traditional video you can do this, but with the medium you have to reshoot. Which, again, is time consuming.

The gear that was used for making these test was very nice to work with. It is mentioned on this blog that they are easy to use and deliver good quality. Although some issues surfaced with Samsung Gear 360. After about 15 to 20 minutes it overheats and can’t record before it is cooled down, which can take a while. Another thing that is frustrating is that the software for this camera is only made for Samsung Galaxy phones and Windows. It would also stop recording sometimes for no particular reason and then work normally for the next take.

Several people have seen the test videos that were made and they all reacted positively. For most it was their first experience in VR and were amazed by simply the medium itself. Sometimes they forgot that they can look around and when they did things like “Oh! There is also stuff happening here!” was shouted. This resulted in wanting to see the video again to see what else was going on. A lot of the people did not seem to mind when the video was takes place in one location. This perhaps could be because when transitioning to another location in the same video makes it feel less ‘realistic’ and they are reminded of it being a video. When in one location they felt like they were at the location for a little bit. Some of them actually tried to touch the surroundings, although they knew it was not real.

The videos that took place in a single location with a stationary camera position were received best. The viewer was more at easy and able to take their time and look around. When there was more movement and transitions in the video, it sometimes would feel a little confusing and disorienting.

So the overall experience with 360-degree video is that it takes a lot of preparation and time to create what you want. But it is worth it in the end, because for a lot of people it is a new experience which they do enjoy.

Skype call with Socrates Kakoulides

On May 30, I had a skype call with Socrates Kakoulides about the last script I wrote. He gave me feedback on the concept and some tips regarding shooting the video.

First of all he mentioned that 360-degree video should give an experience. The concept I have now felt to much as a dialogue and a kind of a narration of the subject. Since the video will be shown at a conference where the audience already has to sit and listen to people talk, it would be nice to not have the same thing in a 360-degree video.

Maybe the most prominent feedback was that it could be a bit more controversial. “When they take off the headset they should feel a little offended”, Socrates said. This had mainly to do with the script being to “scripted”. It felt like it was telling what the policymakers wanted to hear. Bluntly put, throw away the script and focus on what the viewer need to experience. Keep it as unscripted, real and authentic as possible. An example of this could be to have a real conversation and discussion about the current smoking situation and policies with my roommates, who do smoke. This could be enhanced by having the people in the video actually smoking. And what could add further to the experience is to have smoke, or the smell of smoke, at the display during the conference to make it a multiple sensory experience.

By keeping it spontaneous and authentic, you show the viewers a more realistic perspective of the people who are affected by the policies that regarding the interest of the WHO. Talking about what policies would work and about those who have less effect from the viewpoint of people who those polies are meant for, might give those policymaker a better insight.

Some practical things were discussed as well. Since I am not a native English speaker, like others who will be in the video, the option to do it in Dutch with English subtitles would be possible. If this option would be chosen, the subtitles will be placed in the video in several places of the video. For example on two or four side, so when looking around you could read along with what is being said. However, this could take the viewer out the video, because he or she has to focus on the text rather than what is visually going on in the video. Socrates told me to remember to keep the background well lit so a sense of depth is stronger. Keeping the camera high (on eye level) was recommended. The camera could be positioned on a table for example so that the viewer is a spectator or it could be positioned as a visitor or participant in the story.

With this feedback in mind the video will be shot and a first version will be created.