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Why you should watch The Confessional 3D 360 comedy series in a VR headset

The Confessional 3D 360 video comedy series
The Confessional 3D 360 video comedy series

There’s a new 3D 360 video comedy series by Felix & Paul Studios and Just for Laughs.  Called the Confessional, it takes place in a confessional booth, and you have intimate confessions by comics including Trevor Noah, Lilly Singh, and Howie Mandel.  Here’s why you should watch the series in a headset.

The new series is by Just for Laughs and Felix & Paul Studios, .  Just for Laughs is the company that produces those irreverent candid camera / practical joke videos shown as in-flight videos and on TV.   Felix & Paul Studios is one of the most prominent VR production studios that made several of the 360 videos used to showcase the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream, such as the documentary on the White House, and the 360 videos featuring Cirque du Soleil.

Here is the trailer for the series:

Each video in the series is in 8K 3D 360 with spatial audio.  You can see watch the series on YouTube and on Google Daydream.  Here is the first episode, featuring Lilly Singh, a YouTube comic with 12 million subscribers:

My first reaction to the series was, “Why is this in 360?”   I think this is one of those videos that you really need to watch with a headset.  If you just see it on your phone or on the screen, all you will see is a wooden space, with nothing much to see.  There is literally no reason to look around.  But when you view it in 3D 360 (ideally, in a darkened room), you get a feeling of how confined the space is, which makes it feel like you are having a secret one-on-one conversation with the subject.  Moreover, if you view it in a darkened room, the video seems to fill your field of vision.  The 360 aspect is therefore not so much for your eyes but to evoke a particular atmosphere.  Unfortunately, most people will never even try to watch it on a viewer.

Regardless, there are at least a couple of technical challenges with the videos.  First is the low light.  One way Felix & Paul addressed this is by putting lights within the wooden panels of the faux confessional booth.  I think there were also several lights on the actor’s side of the room.

Another challenge is the small space.  Recall that the space is in 8K 3D 360.  That requires a large 360 camera, and such a camera usually must be at least 5 feet away from its surroundings to avoid parallax stitching errors.  The space here looks smaller than that but they managed to avoid any stitching errors.   It makes me wonder if the room might be an illusion — possibly built on a larger scale, with a green screen around it to avoid the stitching errors.  Meanwhile, the actors could be shot separately at a normal distance and scale, and when the videos are combined, it would create the illusion that the room has the same scale as the actors.  I have no idea if that’s how Felix & Paul did it, but that might be one way to do it.  What about you?  Any theories on how Felix & Paul pulled off this shot?

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