Bipolar Id, a full service virtual reality production company founded in 2015 by leading VR director Gevorg Karensky, teamed up with Arnold Worldwide to create “A Brand New View,” a collection of 360° interactive video experiences for Carnival Cruise Line. Tied to the launch of the Carnival Vista, the videos leverage Bipolar’s proprietary VR tools to enable prospective passengers and travelers around the world to embark on a 360° interactive adventure and tour of Carnival’s newest and largest ship from the comfort of their own living rooms. Host Zach King, a digital filmmaker with over one million YouTube subscribers and fifteen million Instagram followers, leads viewers through each experience, engaging the audience with Easter egg hunts and magical sleight of hand tricks.
“Virtual tourism offers a unique opportunity for VR, enabling travelers to preview a vacation before they book it,” said David Karapetyan, executive chairman at Bipolar. “For the Carnival Vista, we wanted to offer viewers more than a traditional 360° video tour of the ship. We worked closely with Arnold to create a fully immersive and interactive experience that incorporates narrative storytelling and fun visual effects — in the form of magic tricks by Zach — and a gamified hunt for viewers to find Easter eggs located throughout the ship.”
With Bipolar at the helm of production and post for the project, the videos were shot aboard the Vista as it toured the Mediterranean Sea and made seven stops across Greece, Italy and Malta. “Our team encountered a variety of new challenges from filming VR content on the sea,” said Bipolar post-producer Dylan Harris. “From the constantly changing weather and lighting conditions, to shooting in diverse interior and exterior spaces, our team had to innovate our VR tools and production pipeline to meet the demands of this project.”
Bipolar built a custom VR camera rig with four Sony a7S IIs, offering a small footprint to easily move throughout the ship, while still capturing in 4K. Each camera was equipped with a 180° field of view lens, customized S-logs for increased dynamic range performance, and all cameras were fully synchronized to get frame-by-frame accuracy for the VR post-production process. The team also developed a proprietary live stitching system that enabled the director and crew to review all footage on set in realtime through an Oculus Rift.
With variant lighting conditions from the sunny exterior deck to the dimmer ship interiors, all necessary plates were shot in sequence to ensure lighting continuity. To capture the illusion of Zach’s trademark magic tricks, performances were shot using multiple takes, with many of the elements filmed on greenscreen and later composited into the live action photographic plates for a seamless 360° scene. “Although you see multiple characters on screen together and interacting, in reality, they were never actually filmed together. Sometimes they never even saw each other on the set,” said Harris. “Each character was shot on separate plates. During post-production, all of the plates were composited to create one seamless 360° scene. In final edit, the scenes were cut together to create a series of flawless and fully immersive VR experiences.”