180° Nature Walk - An E7 Production Breakdown
Updated: Jan 10, 2022
A few months ago, we received a call from a client who was interested in making an 180° Nature to City ASMR video to highlight the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle are. The client wanted viewers to be able to put a virtual reality (VR) headset on, sit back, and enjoy a walk through the woods and throughout Seattle. This means the video camera operator would have to walk while filming, holding the camera as steady as possible. This was my first time working with such a unique camera system, and I wanted to share how we accomplished the final video for anyone else who may be interested!
We were using the ZCAM K1PRO 180°camera which has two 3.25mm lenses that require their own SD card to record footage. In order to operate the camera and manage shooting settings, you have to pair the camera via Wi-Fiwith the ZCAM Controller app on your cell phone. The app control and it’s Wi-Fi connection between the camera and my phone left a lot to be desired. Sometimes the camera would disconnect from the phone, leaving only the two blinking dots to signal that the camera was indeed still recording.
Our next task was creating a rig that would provide the stability needed but lightweight enough to be carried for 10 minute walking sessions. We started by balancing the camera on the Ronin - the V-mount battery powering the camera made for the perfect counter weight. Once we had the camera properly balanced and powered, we did some tests in the studio and noticed that you could see my feet in the bottom of the frame as I was walking. We readjusted the camera position on the Ronin and slid it as far forward as possible so my feet wouldn’t appear in the video.
Since the setup requires you to hold the rig as far away from your body to avoid feet in the frame, the rig gets heavy with your arms extended in that position after about a minute. To help with this, we used a Ready Rig to redistribute some of the weight as I walked. The key was to keep the rig from bouncing as I walked, so I had to walk slowly to avoid making the viewer sick when viewing in a VR headset. After a few more practice runs before the shoot and ironing out any other kinks, we felt we were ready for shoot day.
The day started off at sunrise in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, at the start of the Franklin Falls trail just before Snoqualmie Pass. I set my ISO to 400 and set the shutter speed to ‘Auto’ - which adjusted well to the shady and sunny parts of the trail. The hardest part of the shoot was taking the turns in the trail slowly to avoid movement that may spoil the viewer’s experience. I also struggled with how much torque and weight it took to balance the Ready Rig. Sometimes, I would be holding too much weight. Other times, I wouldn't be holding enough of the weight and the rig would bounce with each step. We recorded about 10 different trail walks along the Franklin Falls stretch before heading back to the city for the second half of the day.
Our first city shot was a winding walk starting in Post Alley, past the Gum Wall and looping around to the famous Pike Place Market and ending at one of the world famous fish throwing shops inside the market. As you can tell from the pictures, this rig definitely catches people's eye. Most people would simply stare but some would follow and take pictures, spoiling what was sometimes a 10 minute shot. However, we got lucky on a few of them and got enough footage for the client to feel confident in our city portion of this shoot. We finished off the day on the other side of Elliot Bay on Alki Beach, overlooking the city skyline. Alki has a paved path, and there were less people to contend with which made my job much easier. Overall, this shoot was an incredible success and we can't wait to get out to do another one!