Corridor Digital Puts Viewers at the Center of the Action
When Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer started making films together in middle school, they had no idea that their hobby would eventually lead to successful careers in the rising world of online media. Corridor Digital, founded in 2010 by Gorski, Pueringer, and producer Jake Watson, has grown from a middle-school dream to a popular YouTube channel with more than 3.7 million subscribers. While Gorski and Pueringer still tell stories inspired by popular movies and video games like they did as teenagers, their films now feature fast-packed action sequences, amazing special effects, and 360-degree video that give Corridor Digital films a unique and professional look that is rarely seen on YouTube.
Playing with perspectives
As lifelong gaming fans, Gorski and Pueringer find inspiration from video games that goes beyond just stories and characters. The uniquely interactive nature of video games inspires the team to look for new ways to immerse their audience in films while still telling a linear narrative. The result is films that play with perspectives and use innovative technologies to bring audiences further into the story. One popular video combines GoPro footage and drones to help audiences step into Superman’s red boots and fly along while their favorite superhero swoops across the city, stopping crime and saving lives.
Corridor Digital continues to create films on the forefront of technology with its first 360-degree video in Where’s Waldo 360. “There are limits to how immersive we can make a two-minute video on YouTube, but 360-degree view opens us up to a whole new level of immersion where we’re literally putting viewers in the middle of a scene,” says Gorski.
Looking for Waldo
While accessibility for 360-degree video is exploding for filmmakers and audiences alike, narrative 360-degree films are still rare. “While 360-degree video is an incredibly immersive environment, it’s not as interactive as people think,” says Pueringer. “Audiences can change their viewpoint, but it doesn’t affect the plot. So the question is how we can create a story when we can’t control where people are looking?”
Corridor Digital started with an idea that uses looking around as a central concept: Where’s Waldo. Many audiences are already fans of the books, so they will instinctively start panning their screens to find those famous red and white stripes. To encourage even more viewers to search through the scenes, Corridor Digital added a plotline about FBI agents looking for Waldo in the crowd. Whether audiences look for Waldo by themselves or simply follow the FBI agents, they are sure to become immersed in the search for Waldo.
Challenging the status quo
Working with 360-degree video presented Corridor Digital with brand new filming and production challenges. When the camera can look everywhere, production crews must find creative ways to hide themselves and their equipment. There’s also the question of how to position the camera and what type of camera to use. Although there are now several 360-degree cameras on the market, Corridor Digital found that none could reach 4K resolution. Instead, the team constructed an original 360-degree camera rig using five GoPro cameras and a custom 3D printed stand.
After filming was complete, the next question was how to stitch the footage from five cameras into a single 360-degree image. Corridor Digital worked with Autopano Pro from Kolor, a GoPro company that handles GoPro footage extremely well. Next, they moved to editing and manipulating the footage with Premiere Pro CC and adding some fun effects – including explosions, UFO flyovers, and more – using After Effects. Throughout the post-production process, the team used Occulus to live preview the shots.
The final Where’s Waldo 360 video currently clocks in at more than 1.3 million views on YouTube with the “making of” video exceeding 110,000 views. As the technologies enabling 360 video continue to improve, Corridor Digital will continue to find ways to tell stories that are both immersive and fun.
Watch Corridor Digital’s theater presentation at NAB Show 2016:
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