360˚ filming
Danny de Bruijn
Founder & CXO

6 steps to make your film day a success!

With this step-by-step guide, your VR recordings will be a breeze☀️🌴😎. There are 6 steps that are about setting up your gear, preparing for filming on set, working with actors and filming itself.

The moment has come. You have to film a scenario. Although you may already have some experience, filming 360˚ video is completely new to you. No worries, I have you covered. Read this blog with basic steps for the starting filmmaker.

Crew member
Before we start, I advise you to never film alone. An extra pair of hands will get you a long way. Someone to help you with all the tasks necessary. One crew member is the camera operator and therefore responsible for all technology, film locations and planning. The other crew member is the director and responsible for getting the right shots and managing all actors.

We assume that you are well prepared. Learn more about pre-production in our blog: Be fully prepared for your 360˚ film day with these free documents.

Step 1 - Setting up the gear

When you arrive at your location, your first priority is to set up and install your gear. When your camera is ready to record you can continue. If it turns out that the camera is not working properly, take other measures. Read more about our recommended hardware set here: All the hardware you need to start filming with 360˚ video!

Camera Setup
Insta 360 One R - Camera Setup

Once your gear has been set up, check the camera settings. Read more in this blog how to install an Insta360 One R: Quick start guide for the Insta360 One R

Test recording
When you have set up your gear and your camera is properly installed, do a test record. Film 30 seconds and watch the video. This is easiest done on your mobile phone. You can immediately listen to how the connected external microphone sounds. If everything is alright, go to step 2.

Step 2 - Prepare the set for filming

After all the technicalities, focus on the scenario. Go through the scenario and check the locations and attributes you need.  If you have done a location scout before filming, you directly know where to find everything.

Determine camera locations
To quickly assess a camera location, you can position yourself where you want to place the camera. Stand still and look around. Do you see everything you need to see according to the script? Are there things you don't want to be in the video? If yes, physically remove those things or look for a different camera location.

  • Light - Is there enough light to film? You can check this by making a test recording. If there is too much video noise in the recordings, it is too dark. Make more light, otherwise look for another camera location.
  • Sound - Check the sound of your camera location. Can the actor be heard? Or is there a lot of echo or ambient noise? In that case, it is best to look for another camera location.
  • Space - Is there enough space around the camera? You need at least 0.5 meters to not get stitching errors. Pay attention to the space around the camera, but also the distance between actor and camera. If there is not enough space, look for a different camera location to film. Or make a test recording and check along the stitching line (where the cameras meet) for stitching errors. If you've never seen a stitch error, don't worry; you will recognize them!
film properly
Hide during filming

Hide during filming
You can also check where you want to hide during the recordings. As you may have guessed, there is no behind the camera anymore with a 360˚ video camera. That's why you really have to hide. If you can see the camera, the camera can see you. Look for a different hiding place.

You can also monitor what the camera sees though your mobile phone. Keep in mind that this is done via Bluetooth. So if there is too much distance or if there are too many objects between you and the camera, the connection might be lost.

When you have walked through the entire scenario and determined your camera locations, proceed to step 3.

Step 3 - Prepare the actors

We always film with at least one actor. Having an actor gives a lot more freedom when writing a scenario. A lot more information about the scenario can be given by the actor. If you are not using an actor, skip this step.

360˚ camera
The director explains to the actor how the 360˚ camera works.

They need to understand VR
If it's the actor's first 360˚ video shoot, have the actor play a VR scenario first. This allows the actor to better imagine what is expected of him. Explaining VR with words can be difficult. Explain that the camera is an opponent. The moment the trainee puts on a VR headset they become the camera. The actor has to pretend the camera is actually a person. Also explain to the actor that you (and all other crew members) have to hide while filming, because you cannot stand behind the camera.

Height of the camera
To film properly, adjust the height of the camera to the height of your actor. The top of the camera should be eye level with your actor. During filming, do not change the height of the camera. Otherwise, the player might feel getting bigger and smaller while playing.

When the actor is ready, go to step 4.

Step 4 - Start filming

We go through several points when starting filming. It is our structure before recording any scene. It may seem like a lot of steps, but we have found that it ultimately saves a lot of time.

A. Dry Run
Start with a dry run. This allows the director to stand next to the camera and give tips to the actor. Put the camera in place and practice to film the scene. Check if the actor does not stand in a stitch line, but right in front of one of the lenses.
Also make sure the actor does not stand too close or too far away from the camera. A distance between 1 and 1.5 meters works well for a 1 on 1 conversation. Listen carefully to how the actor plays the scene, how the script is pronounced and check body language.

Dry run before you film
Dry running a scene

B. Clean the lenses
Check that the lenses are clean. Check this every time the camera is touched. There are special lens wipes to clean the lenses. Always use these special lens wipes, otherwise you might risk damaging one of the lenses.

Greasy spot on the lens
A greasy spot on the lens will ruin the video

C. Scene and take number
Now it is time to press the record button. Connect your mobile phone to the camera. Press record on your phone and call the scene and take number. This makes file management a lot easier during post-production.

D. Call for action
Hide, countdown from 3 to 1 and call out “Action!” so the actor knows when the scene starts. It is important that there is a few seconds between the call for action and the real action of the scene. You need to cut yourself out of the video and that won't work if the actor has already started talking through the call for action.

E. Record the loop too
When the actor is done with his lines, continue recording for another 20 seconds. So stay hidden and let the actor stay in place. The actor should not freeze, but instead, keep playing. Acting a but longer is done for the loop. A loop is a piece of video that can keep on repeating (looping). This gives the player time to think about the answer in the actual VR training.

F. CUT! And one more time...
When the 20 seconds for the loop are recorded, you can call ”Cut!” and stop recording. Everyone can return to their starting position, because you should always film a scene at least twice. This way you always have a backup if something goes wrong with a video file.
If you recorded the scene twice (or more if necessary), check off the scene on the scenario export. Write down the take you prefer. This will help you a lot during post-production.

Now move on to the next scene and repeat these steps. When you have filmed all scenes, go to step 5.

Step 5 - Final checks

When you have finished filming, it is important to go through the scenario export to make sure you have checked off all scenes. It would be a shame if you forgot something and sent everyone home too early. It actually has saved us a few times.

Scenario Export from Warp Studio
Scenario export from Warp Studio

Step 6 - Call it a wrap!

When everything is filmed, you are done. Call “It's a wrap!” and celebrate the end of the film day.
Before you know, you are done with your recordings. Time always flies by, because I really enjoy doing it. These steps will help you have a fun and successful film day.

To summarize

First, get yourself an extra crew member. Check if all hardware is ready. Take the time to go through the scenario on set and determine camera locations. Prepare your actor to save time while filming and improve the quality of the scenario. Start filming. And don't forget the loop. Good luck!

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