3spin, Lufthansa and Adam Cohen bring 360° music video to New York Times app

I have amazing news: At 3spin we have partnered with Lufthansa German Airlines and musician Adam Cohen to bring a 360° short film and music video with Adam’s song “Love is” to the New York Times Virtual Reality app, Youtube and Facebook.

The video “Love is a journey” can be watched through virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR or simply on your smartphone or desktop computer.

The film shows a young couple in a long distance relationship reunite after a long period of separation (well, who couldn’t indentify with that at some point in their lives? :-)). The love story starts in a flat where the protagonist packs his bag and peeks into a (mysterious) little box.

The journey leads the viewer from Hamburg in Germany via the airport to beautiful San Francisco. The video includes a ride on a San Francisco cable car and (thanks to Lufthansa) a scene on an Airbus A380 plane. Finally the protagonist reaches Torpedo Wharf near the Golden Gate Bridge where he has a little surprise in store (I won’t spoil it for you).

You can watch the video in the app or on Youtube.

A still from the 360 video. The viewer feels as if he rides a San Francisco cable car.

For the video’s music we teamed up with the amazing singer/songwriter Adam Cohen (if you wondered, yes, he’s the son of Leonard Cohen). When we asked his management what they thought about the short film at first we got no answer for a while. When the answer came it consisted of two words… “very cool” (thanks so much Jake/Adam!).

Adam’s song “Love is…” deals with the idea that love is always the same, no matter what gender one is interested in or which religious views one has. When we listened to to the song while producing in San Francisco we instantly knew it was perfect for our cause.

The idea for the story was inspired by Thomas Poursanidis’ personal relationship. He works for 3spin and is the the co-author/-director of the video. He’s been in the film business for years but he is also a graphic designer. I consider him a true expert in 360° filmmaking.

I wouldn’t even say it is necessarily good to come from the movie business alone as 360° storytelling works so differently. However combining knowledge from that business with know-how from other areas, especially user experience design and interaction design can be a perfect combination.

The video was produced in a special 360° recording technique with six cameras simultaneously. At most times the camera rig was mounted to the backpack which means you get to experience the film from the backpack’s perspective.

In this case we used GoPro cameras which were ideal due to their low weight and the limited space we were dealing with. As it is quite complex and time consuming to test a shot with a multi-camera setup we used a Ricoh Theta for our test shots. A big thanks to Ricoh for providing us with their latest prototype which wasn’t publicly available at that time. It was the perfect tool for us.

If you’re spinning around looking for the camera mount in the video you might be surprised. We removed the camera rig from the shots using 2D image replacement and morphing as well as 3D replacement techniques. 3D was necessary on the cable car due to the different light conditions on the backpack which we had to reproduce in 3D.

We filmed on location in Frankfurt, Hamburg and San Francisco. We picked a couple of interesting perspectives for you — starting with “being” the backpack, riding the escalator, lying in the plane’s overhead bin and riding a San Francisco cable car. That’s the cool thing about VR and 360° video. In every perspective you will feel as if you were really there.

As you probably know by now 3spin is developing Lufthansa’s virtual reality travel app, leading their 360 video productions and is overlooking all VR related activities. Until recently Lufthansa and 3spin focused on showing mood videos of travel destinations and in-cabin situations from mostly static view points.

By producing the love story video we wanted to prove how storytelling in 360 degrees can work over an extended period of time with different perspectives and moving images. We have tested the videos with viewers dozens of times before it turned out the way it is. 360° video is really disrupting storytelling.

Also, the decision to use music instead of real-world sounds in the video was a big challenge that had to be planned from the start. Usually in 360 video productions sound is a key element to guide viewers through a scene. In this case we needed to work with very understandable and obvious actions to ensure the story flow.

Have you thought about bringing a story to life in a 360 video? Please let me know if I can help you. We are pioneers in the area of 360 storytelling and I am happy to share our experience with you.