Adobe Creative Cloud

The New Frontier of Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is taking off with filmmakers, so much so that there was a VR section in the New Frontier category at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. This new format offers great potential for storytellers to create even more immersive experiences for audiences. Many virtual reality filmmakers are working Adobe Premiere Pro CC to help them execute on their ideas. Here, we look at five experiences from the festival that were created with help from Adobe Creative Cloud tools.

Waves of Grace

CREDIT: Imraan Ismail, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

CREDIT: Imraan Ismail, Courtesy of Sundance Institute is a burgeoning production studio that combines custom built tools and proprietary technology with Adobe post-production applications to create innovative virtual reality projects. Waves of Grace tells the true story of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor in Liberia, by stitching together a 360-degree experience filled with faith, hope, and healing.

Post producer Armando Kirwin says that the company leads with creative and supports with technology. Unlike editing on a feature film, there are very few cuts in VR editing. After figuring out which shots to edit, the process is fairly quick, with finishing and “fine stitching” to create the VR experience taking the bulk of the time in post.

“Premiere Pro CC is the backbone of our post-production process because it’s powerful and accommodating to the rapid changes in VR,” he says. “Of course we use Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC for design and After Effects CC for some stitching and painting out rigs, but post is all about Premiere Pro CC.”


CREDIT: Pete Brundle, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

CREDIT: Pete Brundle, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Collisions uses virtual reality to highlight the story of the indigenous Martu tribe in Australia, it’s elder Nyarri Morgan, and the conflict between their traditional world view and Western scientific technology. Before appearing at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Collisions premiered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in front of world leaders, heads of industry and NGO’s.

Director Lynette Wallworth and Editor Karryn de Cinque created the project using Premiere Pro CC and used Dashwood to see their edits in the Rift in real time. “My goal was that we would edit the work using traditional filmic transitions, rather than fading to black in and out of scenes, which is why I brought in Kaz, a feature editor,” says Wallworth. “With Premiere Pro CC that is what we achieved. It was arduous, time consuming and extremely challenging and ultimately I am thrilled with the result.”

The Unknown Photographer

CREDIT: Turbulent, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

CREDIT: Turbulent, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

The Unknown Photographer is a project that started with a photo album found in an abandoned home in the Quebec countryside of Canada. The album of black-and-white photos of World War I eventually made it to the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and co-producers Turbulent. Together they conceived an over twenty-minute virtual reality experience conveying the experience of the war photographer.

The team of artists, including Lead Artists Loïc Suty, Osman Zeki, and Claudine Matte, along with Key Collaborators Catherine Mavrikakis (script) and Francois Lafontaine (music), sketched the environment in Photoshop CC and used Adobe Illustrator CC to create the vectors, which were then extrapolated into 3D. The team also used Adobe Audition CC to cut, clean, and edit the audio, and Premiere Pro CC to create the supporting video and trailer.

“It was a very iterative process with a lot of trial and error,” says Alexandre Leduc, Director of Production. “For the first few months there was a chaos that was nice because a lot of ideas came out of that process. Then, there was a point where everything fit together and we built on the experience from there.”


CREDIT: Ryan Whitehead, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

CREDIT: Ryan Whitehead, Courtesy of Sundance Institute

The live-action, virtual reality short Defrost takes viewers on an adventure that explores the question of what it would be like to wake up and reunite with loved ones after being frozen for nearly 30 years. Lead Artist Randal Kleiser and Key Collaborator Tanna Frederick, also the project’s producers, worked with associate producer Manuel Perezcarro and a talented team of actors, artists, and VR professionals to tell this futuristic story from an intimate and immersive perspective.

The team has used Creative Cloud for years. They particularly like being able to use Premiere Pro CC on different platforms and its easy integration with other Adobe applications for titling and graphics work. “For Defrost, specifically the codec versatility of Premiere Pro CC is unparalleled,” says Perezcarro. “We’re working in uncharted territory with new VR cameras and the ability for Premiere Pro CC to handle any new file type without missing a beat speeds up our entire post workflow.”


Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Philipp Maas, Dominik Stockhausen, and Alexander Maas started out wanting to make a traditional film for the big screen, but after developing the story for Sonar they realized it would benefit from being told in 360 degrees. Set in space, Sonar explores the vast expanse of space as a drone searches for the source of a faint distress call.

The trio of students combined their experience in animation and music composition as they explored a new experience in storytelling. “We had to connect what we saw on our monitors and what we’d see in a 3D space,” says Dominik. “We couldn’t really rely on our impression of what it would look like when it would be wrapped around you. It stayed new and exciting throughout the whole process because each shot was a new experience.”

The team used Premiere Pro CC for editing, and Adobe Photoshop CC and After Effects CC for graphics and visual effects. “The best thing about After Effects CC and Premiere Pro CC is that we could link projects,” says Philipp. The transfer of files, sequences, and cuts between After Effects and Premiere Pro was important to our process and achieving what we wanted for the film.”

Breaking new ground

Virtual reality filmmakers are working on the cutting-edge of creativity. Their unique ideas, experimentation, and bold projects are setting the bar that other filmmakers will surely strive to reach and even surpass. With endless opportunities ahead, we’re excited to see what these innovators think of next in this exciting new storytelling platform.

Learn more about Adobe at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud video and audio tools

Download a free trial of Adobe Premiere Pro CC

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