100 moods from Finland
We are proud to introduce the next interview in our new series, “OZO Spotlight On.” Today we’re shining the OZO spotlight on Miikka Niemi, project director, and Joonas Mattila, director of photography, from 100 Moods From Finland. In this interview with Niemi and Mattila, we discuss the formation and workflow of their amazing project.
100 Moods From Finland is a beautiful and ambitious virtual project touring the landscapes of Finland, delivered as a spatial experience through 360° VR videos. Visitors can experience different moods and activities throughout the seasons – from picking cloudberries in the Ruka-Kuusamo region to encountering a reindeer calf taking its first steps.
What inspired you to create the 100 Moods project?
MN: The basic idea for 100 Moods From Finland comes from a combination of immersive experiences and use of VR to capture real-life moments. We have been working a lot in the travel and tourism industry trying to create a sense of being in a certain place. With our immersive dome, we’re really close to creating a portal to Finland.
JM: I had two main reasons: to show amazing things from Finland and to experiment with VR. Virtual reality is pretty new platform and this project has given us valuable experience in working with top-notch equipment like Nokia OZO+. I think virtual reality is a revealing way to show real places. When you’re using Instagram and find cool places from around the world, you don’t often think what’s behind the frame.
I visited Yosemite couple years ago and was surprised how crowded all the attractions were. In Finland, we don’t have that problem, and I think you can see it from the footage. We can have plenty of personal space whenever we want. On the other hand, [Finland has] crazy events and hobbies which are cool to show to the world.
What were the advantages to telling this story in VR versus 2D?
MN: Traditional storytelling doesn’t give a sense of space. That’s our main motivation to use VR.
JM: Our main delivery platform is a dome where people can walk in and “travel” across Finland. When you stand in the middle of the cylinder screen you feel like being in the places of the 360° videos. That’s something that you couldn’t achieve without VR.
VR gives a lot of new possibilities when talking about framing. We don’t want to make cuts to these videos or move the camera, so we need to be able to tell many stories in one composition. For example, we were shooting in Craft Square in Joensuu and I wanted to show traditional crafts inside and also the cafeterias outside. I ended up placing the OZO in the middle of an open window and I was able to show the both sides in one composition.
By the end of this year, you will have completed nearly 100 OZO shoots. What has been your biggest learning so far?
MN: The biggest challenge is managing such a vast project, both concept and production-wise. Of course, the diverse shooting locations and changing weather conditions bring their own challenges.
JM: The goal of shooting 100 VR scenes in one year has created a lot of stress in pre-production. We wanted to cover the whole of Finland and show every season. With simple math, we noticed that we would need to shoot every third day. This amount of shooting has filled our schedules and it has been constant planning for where to go next. Finland is pretty big country too and it takes over 16 hours to drive from north to south. Thanks for Europcar for helping us out with the transportation!
I have personally learned a lot using the OZO camera and have turned cons to pros. One feature people don’t like is the back seam and lack of overlap on it. I have found out that it’s a good place to make unwanted objects like external microphone disappear. When we started shooting with OZO, we learned we needed to improvise in certain situations. For example, our laptop struggled to work properly in freezing cold temperatures and dynamic range wasn’t enough for everything. We took double exposures to keep every detail we wanted in certain shots. Luckily during the project, OZO’s firmware and post-production software were upgraded. This upgrade made OZO more reliable and pleasant to shoot with because it improved OZO’s dynamic range a lot.
As for the biggest difficulties we have faced on post-production: over 100 videos shot in VR take up a lot of space on hard drives and encoding times are pretty long. We want to give the audience the most natural feeling, so we fix all the errors in the seams and remove the tripod. In the beginning, it was difficult for us to notice those “errors” in the VR video and we had to make a lot of versions of each video. I think we have now found a great workflow where we don’t make same mistakes over and over again or lose time.
What has been your biggest surprise about working in VR?
JM: When we have shot events it has been difficult to get OZO in the right spot, one that will work well in VR. Traditional media locations are often full of other cameramen and they offer great views only for one side. I'm glad that the organizers have treated us well and we have been able to give us the access to places that are unreachable to traditional media. For example, on the stage with an artist or in the middle of the path of the biggest orienteering race in the world.
Every day we are inspired by the VR and 360 video content you create. Are you an OZO creator or do you know of one who would like to be featured here? Tag us with #OZO, tweet us @NokiaVR, or contact us!