#1133: How Funique VR Supervisor Ming-Yuan CHUAN worked on 3 Venice Immersive Competition Pieces

Funique VR Supervisor Ming-Yuan CHUAN worked on three projects that all finished at the same time under deadline for the Venice Immersive 2022. Red Tail is an animation piece that uses photogrammetry on built figures, and The Man Who Couldn’t Leave and All That Remains are both a stereoscopic 360 video that require an incredible amount of VFX stitching post-production work for each scene. Because each shot is a potential pitfall, then CHUAN works closely with directors during the pre-production and production phases to ensure that they’re not creating more post-production work to clean up the shots. There is an incredible amount of hidden labor behind each of these stereoscopic VR shots, which starts to call into question the finical viability of some of these types of ambitious and beautiful festival circuit pieces.

I had a chance to catch up with CHUAN to learn more about his journey into VR, and the variety of different 360 videos that he’s been involved with over the years including Your Spiritual Temple Sucks, Home, and Afterlife for Tomorrow. CHUAN also showed me some of his incredible 10K stereoscopic photo captures that he’s been taking of different cultural landmarks and events across Taiwan. He also talked about a previous VFX shot that he did in a piece called Perpetual War featuring photogrammetry statues that were animated that he showed to director Singing Chen, which inspired the final shot in The Man Who Couldn’t Leave. I also saw CHUAN taking full advantage of being at Venice by seeing as many immersive stories as he possibly could to see the latest storytelling innovations, and to take a bit of a break after working so hard to complete three different projects leading up to the festival.

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Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR Podcast. It's a podcast that's looking at the structures and forms of immersive storytelling and the future of spatial computing. You can support me on Patreon at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So in today's episode, I actually talked to Mingyuan Chen, who is a VR supervisor on a number of different projects. He actually had three different projects showing at Inventions Immersive, and they all were finishing at the same time. So he had quite a busy couple of months leading up to this, but he worked on Redtail, The Man Who Couldn't Leave, and All That Remains. The man couldn't leave, and all that remains were two stereoscopic 360 video pieces. He works at Phonique, and they have their own cameras, but they also just do a lot of the post-production process. He tells me after the interview that each shot within a 360 video is essentially visual effects, where a lot of things have to be fixed. Stitched together and a lot of errors corrected and so just talking about the process of working with all the different directors to be able to see how to minimize a lot of the work that they have to do and to fix up and clean up all these different pieces and Yeah, it's a bit of a in some ways not as many other Post-production companies like phonique that's really working on a lot of these different 360 videos and so it's kind of a unique Look and feel and the quality of these pieces is just on a whole other level And so the man who couldn't leave actually was one of the winners this year And so yeah just to hear a little bit more context as to all the different pieces that he was working on and his journey into the space and trying to see all the different immersive experiences as well as you know working on each of these very different pieces of redtail the man who couldn't leave and all that remains and So that's what we're coming on today's episode of wasted VR podcast. So this interview with Mingyuan Chen happened on Saturday, September 3rd, 2022. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:02:02.266] Ming Yuan Chuan: Hi, my name is Mingyuan Chen. I'm the VR supervisor for FilmyVR Studio.

[00:02:09.850] Kent Bye: So maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into VR.

[00:02:15.187] Ming Yuan Chuan: My background was in visual effects for commercials and music video. And in 2015, I created a VR experiment with my friend and fell in love with live-action 360 videos. So right now I'm working at Filnik VR Studio. We work with directors and create high-quality 360 stereoscopic production.

[00:02:43.223] Kent Bye: So when you create the high-quality VR productions, are you using your own camera equipment that you've designed?

[00:02:50.308] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, of course. Back in 2015, if you have any experience in VR, you know back then the camera is very bad. If you want to create high-quality video, you have to build your own 360 camera. So that's how we began. but gradually the market is better so right now we can buy better 360 camera such as Insta Titan or the one Kando is making now it's very high quality so right now it's a mix of both sometimes we use our own camera and other times we use off-the-shelf camera like Titan

[00:03:30.422] Kent Bye: So going back to getting inspired and interested in getting into VR, what was the moment or an experience that you saw that made you decide to get into this field?

[00:03:39.392] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, I remember it very, very clearly. It's a piece made by Felix and Paul. I remember so vividly back in 2015, I saw it. It's the circus one. It's 10 minutes long. Because back in that time, most of the 360 video looks very blurry and it's in mono and the stitching line is very bad. So when I saw the one made by Flix and Paul, I was really shocked. And that was so immersive, so inspiring. I actually cried after watching that piece. Yeah, that's what inspired me. So I want to do something like that, to make films that inspire other creators, yes.

[00:04:20.211] Kent Bye: Where did you have a chance to see it? Was it online, or would you see it at a festival?

[00:04:24.752] Ming Yuan Chuan: No, no, no. I saw it in Gear VR. Yeah. Back then, we used Gear VR for the VR consumer, yeah.

[00:04:31.874] Kent Bye: So then, how did you get into the VR industry? Were you already in the visual effects industry, or how did you transition into doing VR then?

[00:04:39.896] Ming Yuan Chuan: Wow, that was actually the time I left my previous company to do documentary. That was another my personal project. I want to do something with the image that is powerful and make people think. So I left the previous company making a documentary on my own. At that time, I met with my friend. Actually, he's standing over there. He's Joe. Joe Zheyu, yes. So we are trying to figure out what's the next step for us, because it's very challenging to do independent film. And at the time, I believe that was the starting of YouTube 360. So it started showing some 360 videos on the YouTube app, and we thought that was so amazing, so interesting. So we buy some GoPros and stuck them together to start to create our own videos.

[00:05:38.530] Kent Bye: Yeah, and so I know you've had a chance to work on a lot of different projects over the years, and so maybe you could talk a bit about how you transitioned from those early experiments and prototypes into making more professional pieces that have been shown at different film festivals.

[00:05:53.589] Ming Yuan Chuan: Okay, so after experiment with GoPros, and we actually shot some music video with it. But the quality is just very bad and the client is not really happy with the result. So we think we have to create our own camera system. So by that time, back in 2016, we start like buying the parts, the sensors, the lens, everything, and we build the camera and the software ourselves. So we create a camera we call the Field Cam. Yeah, because the company name is Fewnik. So we thought the camera called Field Cam. Okay, then we start making commercials. So I remember back in 2016 there was like a VR boom, you know, a lot of company showed up especially in China. Just a lot of money, a lot of platform, a lot of commercial that want to experiment with VR. So at that time, we got a lot of opportunities to go to China to shoot VR commercials, VR short films, and sometimes for a VR promotional video for maybe a movie, something like that. So we kept having demands to do higher and higher quality video. So we experimented with different sensors, different cameras, different systems. That's how we're getting better and better.

[00:07:18.182] Kent Bye: I know that there was a lot of discussion within the broader VR industry that the real VR was the immersive computer generated and immersed into 60 degree of freedom and that at the beginning there's a lot of people that were doing a lot of 360 videos and there's actually a lot of curation of 360 videos over the years and then it tailed off quite a bit even from a lot of the different selections. I saw a lot less of the 360 videos at the festivals. I think in part because of maybe the other technology companies going out of business, or they just weren't supporting it, or, you know, just kind of was a crash in the market of 360 video. So it was like a boom and a bust, but then Feniq seemed to be persistent throughout all that. You know, Felix and Paul obviously building their own camera technology as they go along. There are consumer or prosumer cameras out there with the Insta360 and the Titan and the more professional versions, but Yeah, coming here to Venice 2022, I feel like the quality of those 360 videos, even though the broader industry may be ignoring it and not paying attention, there's actually been a lot of continual growth over since, you know, 2015 all the way now for the last seven years. There's been a lot of advancements and refinement in the structures of telling stories. And I think Taiwan, a lot of the pieces that I see, here at the festival and a lot of the pieces that you were personally involved with over the years is I think a big part of that as well. So I'd love to hear about your perspective of the broader industry and then coming over after the GoPro and you know having some of those professional cameras and then from like 2017, 2018 for the last like four years or so.

[00:08:50.533] Ming Yuan Chuan: Wow, that's a big question. How do I start it? Yeah, I always like to joke that 360 video production is like almost extinction right now. Because we know that because we create a lot of them. It is very, very expensive to create 360 video, especially stereoscopic one. Yeah. For us, we have our own team to do the post-production. That's one of the advantage with FiLNIC is that you have the full pipeline from the very beginning to the last stage. This is very important because when you know how it is done in the post-production stage, so that you can plan it in advance. So we work with directors actually in a very, very early stage, in the script stage, to avoid a lot of problems that might encounter in the post-process stage. such as the stitching problem if you know that because 360 video is usually shot with a camera with a lot of lens so when the subject is moving you get into the trouble with the stitching because the main subject could be distorted or warp, or the stereoscopic looks weird, that takes a lot of time and money to fix. So we always work with the director to find a very good solution to avoid a lot of problems.

[00:10:16.217] Kent Bye: So in other words, it's a bad idea for one of the actors to walk all the way around the camera because of the different lenses. It'd be a very expensive shot to be able to really pull off and fix.

[00:10:26.198] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, the actor can walk, but you have to consider the cost. For example, the actor can stand on a certain distance or a certain place relative to the camera, then it is fine. So you can do most of the acting over there. But you can walk a little bit, but not too long because it takes a lot of time to fix just a few seconds of video.

[00:10:51.615] Kent Bye: Yeah, and so there's a custom pipeline that you have at Phonique with this post-production process, and so when was the first big VR project that you were involved with that ended up at one of the major festivals?

[00:11:02.128] Ming Yuan Chuan: Oh yeah, it's called Your Spiritual Temple Sucks. Yes, I think many people can remember that one because it's a funny little VR short film. We are very, very lucky to work with the directors and we are very, very lucky to have this kind of very successful beginning because the feedback is very, very good. So this is the reason that we keep making films for film festivals and keep growing and advance our technology.

[00:11:30.629] Kent Bye: I think that was at Sundance in 2017 or 2018?

[00:11:33.050] Ming Yuan Chuan: I believe the film was done in 2017 and was at Sundance in 2018.

[00:11:41.435] Kent Bye: Yeah, I remember that. Was there animated parts of it as well? I'm trying to remember.

[00:11:47.538] Ming Yuan Chuan: It's a mix with live action, animation, and a little bit visual effects.

[00:11:52.683] Kent Bye: Yeah, so sort of an augmented reality kind of overlays on top of this world that you're in, yeah. So yeah, I remember that piece. And then what was some of the next pieces that you got into festivals then?

[00:12:03.852] Ming Yuan Chuan: I think I just picked some of the most important ones. One of my favorite ones is called Home. I believe it's in Venice 2020. Yes, it was in Venice 2020. Because I remember vividly, that was the year everybody was quarantined at home. So when people saw this film, many people cried. Because this film is about family reunion.

[00:12:30.925] Kent Bye: That's the one where the whole family's coming in and then the grandmother's left behind?

[00:12:36.692] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, that's the one. It's a very sad story, but it's kind of true. It's real life. Because we will all experience more or less the same thing.

[00:12:48.386] Kent Bye: I think one of the things that I remember about that was just being placed within a home context and so you are seeing the surroundings of the home but also seeing all these different family relations coming in and how they're saying hello to each other and then I think Victoria Mayfield-Back was calling this the durational take so it's basically like a single take where you're just sitting there watching all this stuff so it ends up probably being a lot of orchestration of how everybody's moving around and then a lot of post-production just to kind of clean it all up. There's not a lot of editing in terms of the camera movements as far as I remember but yeah having these long durational takes I think is something that was a part of a trend that I I saw some of the previous pieces in 2019 at Venice that had some pieces that were, you know, you just look at one shot and it's basically no cuts and you just see a whole scene unfold. Victoria Mapplebach had a piece like that. And there were some other pieces that were also like a camera in a car that was going down a whole road. But yeah, sort of a different approach. And as you were working on that project, what were your responsibilities for either directing or editing or doing post-processing on it?

[00:13:53.635] Ming Yuan Chuan: Actually for the film Home, the director is one of my good friends. So I worked with him from the script stage. He was thinking like doing a comedy first, so it's more appealing to the international audience. I talked with him developing ideas and One of the ideas he mentioned is that he talked about his family and family reunions. At that time, I think, yeah, this sounds like a really good idea for VR. Because the one I really love is, it's just like you mentioned, it's one take, and you are one of the characters in the piece. I think those pieces are the most powerful one. Because VR is supposed to let you be someone else, to be another person's shoes. So this is a very, very good subject to do that. So that was how Home came out. So after that is all technical stuff. We work closely with the directors to see how people should move, should avoid problems, everything like that. And this is a very challenging piece because you have to do everything in one take. And it's very, very hard. It's very long. It's like 20 minutes. What's the piece that you're talking about? Yes, home still. Oh, yeah, the home. Okay. Yeah. Because it's like just in the sun is going down because we have to shot it with mostly natural lights. When it kept failing and failing, we had just one more try before the sun set. And this is the last take. It's the successful one.

[00:15:35.640] Kent Bye: Wow. Yeah, and what were some of the other pieces after Home?

[00:15:40.863] Ming Yuan Chuan: The other one is very interesting. It's called In the Mist. I don't know if you know that.

[00:15:45.443] Kent Bye: Yeah, I saw, I had a chance to see it last year and I have an interview with the creator that I haven't had a chance to release yet. But yeah, there was like a sauna scene that actually had a lot of construction of moving parts. But yeah, it's replicating a gay sauna within Taiwan.

[00:15:59.829] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, yes, yes. I think this is a very good example that Taiwan, we have a lot of free speech and we have freedom of artistic expression. And I think this is a very, very good example of that.

[00:16:14.687] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's a really powerful piece. Actually, there was a lot of complications for distributing it because it was difficult to get it to some of the different satellite places and Viveport wouldn't distribute it and Oculus wouldn't distribute it. So I had to get a personal build sent to me just so I could even see it. But yeah, it was kind of the other challenges of getting a piece out like that, especially in the midst of the pandemic when everything's going virtual and then you aren't able to actually see it. So, but yeah, it was a really poetic and beautiful piece that I remember. I also remember seeing the Afterlife for Tomorrow at one of the different festivals. I don't know if it was the New Images festival, but that was by the singing Chen that also has the piece here of The Man Who Couldn't Leave. And yeah, what was it like working with singing in order to work on these two projects?

[00:16:59.743] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, After Image for Tomorrow is a very, very interesting piece. That was the first time I collaborated with Xin Ying Chen, the director. This is the first VR piece for her, so it's more like an experiment for her. So we tried a lot of new ways to shoot things, even we thought impossible, and we kept looking for ways to shoot it. So it was a very good experiment for both of us. And I remember vividly, we don't know what the outcome will be in the very early stage. We don't know how it will come out when we are shooting. We don't know how it will look when we are editing. The first time we saw it is when all the things combined together, the shots, the music, everything. And I was really, really surprised and moved, wow, okay, so this is how the piece looks like. And after that, I showed the director, and she was like very surprised, wow, oh, this is what we shot? This is, wow, because we really don't know how it will come out. This is really, really learning experience for both of us.

[00:18:14.800] Kent Bye: There's a lot of really interesting vast spaces with different things to look at in all different directions and you turn your head and you go into different memories. A lot of installation art in terms of like rooms with papers on the wall and then a lot of really surreal scenes I'd say where you see this mirrored effect a number of times but one time you're in a room with one side of the room has like all these people in VR and they're dancing and then other side has people outside of VR and they're just kind of like static and there's all these lighting and lasers it was such a interesting orchestration of embodied movements between the different contrasts of different sides and the story of memories and you know the final drone shot at the end going over the mountains in Taiwan so I had a chance to re-watch it yesterday and I remember seeing it originally and just being awestruck of like wow where's this coming from I'm not seeing like a lot of pieces like that but because it was the pandemic it was hard to follow up and do much interviews but I'm glad that I was able to see it again. Maybe talk about from your experience, after you watch an experience like that, what you take away from what the medium of VR is able to do as you have these different scenes juxtaposing all these different kind of surreal nature of what's happening. And then through the aggregation of that, you get a feeling at the end. It's almost like the language of VR taking you through these liminal spaces and then trying to evoke different feelings, but also the themes of memory.

[00:19:44.639] Ming Yuan Chuan: I remember one thing very clearly is that before that piece, all our VR short film is not too long because you know in the early stage, the headset is not that good. So it's about if the piece is longer than 10 minutes, the audience will feel sick, disturbed. So after image for tomorrow, it's a very, very long piece. It's 18 minutes. So longer than we recommend at that time. But the first time I see the whole piece, I say to myself, wow, you really need time to get into the VR. So the long duration actually helps the audience get inside the world. That's the main thing and most powerful lesson I learned with this film.

[00:20:32.270] Kent Bye: I guess that brings us to Venice 2022, where there's three projects that you worked on with Redtail, and then you have All That Remains, and then The Man Who Couldn't Leave. You know, two 360 videos that actually really got a couple of my favorite experiences actually at the festival, and then Redtail. So maybe talk about, you've been very busy leading up to this.

[00:20:51.595] Ming Yuan Chuan: Okay, we did not plan for these three films to come out at the same time. Yes, for Red Tail, we made it almost two and a half years. Yes, more than two years to create this piece. And for The Man Who Couldn't Live, it's over one year. For All That Remains, it's a little bit more than six months. So, it just happened to finish the three films at the same time. And also, these three films all submit to Venice this year. And surprisingly all three got in, so I was very very happy.

[00:21:27.194] Kent Bye: So different styles, I know let's start with Redtail because the first episode showed I think a Tribeca or New Images a couple years ago. I had a chance to see that and I actually had a memory of seeing it and I thought I'd already seen the whole thing but I'm glad that I sat down and watched the whole thing because there's a very interesting aesthetic to it because I was talking to one of the engineers and saying that there's actually like a photogrammetry process. Maybe you could talk about the process of making it because you could look at it and say okay this is just animation but it doesn't look like stop motion and it's not just animation so it's something different and I think the different is that it's actually a physical photogrammetry model so maybe you could talk about that process.

[00:22:04.802] Ming Yuan Chuan: Okay, our goal of Red Tail is to make a film that looks like stop-motion, but in 6D. That was our original purpose for that. But when the film evolves itself, it becomes something else. So right now it's some kind of like a stop-motion, but it's not. Yeah, this is not how we planned it. Okay, so the main selling point for this film is that we built all the models practically. Everything, every prop, every set, every character, we built it. So we have it in Taiwan and it will be a showcase with the film festival in Kaohsiung. So the audience can not only see this piece, but also they have a gallery where you can actually see the original models we made. It's very, very detailed. It's very, very cool. So before this film, FiLMiC focused on live-action 360 video. But I think photogrammetry is still like capturing the real world, but you can walk around. That's a great advantage with 6DoF, real-time engine. So I always want to try this kind of VR fields. So we began the process two and a half years ago with the director, Wang Deng-Yu.

[00:23:25.830] Kent Bye: So the look and feel is quite unique and it's got kind of a poetic aspect of these surreal dreamlike worlds that you're going through and this boy as he's chasing around this thing he's going after and then and it's a traveling journey so he's going on a long adventure going on that so he's in these liminal spaces and going onto these trains and all these other entities and encounters and so yeah quite an ambitious project but the other two that I'd love to have you have some reflections on the man who couldn't leave because that's I guess the next longest one of a year working on that because working with Singing Chen following with the Afterlife for Tomorrow coming back and taking this real intense story and at what point do you come onto the project to help come up with the blocking or the staging or to, because there's a lot of really, you know, I think in the behind the scenes video, the comment was made is that this is one of the most ambitious 360 video projects ever. And I'm sure that some of the different types of Felix and Paul pieces that they've done were complicated and going into space is certainly not that easy. So, but relative to what you're doing here, a lot of the lighting and the staging, the orchestration with lots of people, it's a whole other production process. And so, I'd love to hear about how you came in and what you were doing to help make this project happen.

[00:24:36.142] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, this is definitely our most ambitious piece yet and most complicated and most expensive one also. I joined this piece in a very, very early stage. Actually, when we are not sure if this piece is going to make, the director talked with me on planning on this film. So I'm involved in almost every stage. I remember the earlier meeting, we were talking about a style and how it would look, the lighting and some ideas from the directors. She wants to shoot something in prison, but we don't know how to do that yet. She wants to do a lot of things, do this, do that, but not sure how to do it. So we're doing a workshop and brainstorming everything. I think this is a very interesting process because Xing Chen, she has certain people that always work with her. She always works with the same production designer, the same cinematographer, and also me, the same guy who does VR, the same VR supervisor. So we always brainstorm everything together. Yes, that's a very interesting process. But sometimes the idea is not formed to the very last stage.

[00:25:58.969] Kent Bye: Yes. So since you're working on all those stages, is that your title of VR supervisor?

[00:26:05.130] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, because I don't know how to call... I don't know what official title I should call, because I'm involved in every step, so maybe VR supervisor is... I don't know.

[00:26:19.238] Kent Bye: Yeah, so that's a beautiful, beautiful piece. Really emotionally evocative. Yeah, really powerful. And then all that remains, that's that's a whole trip of taking you into a whole other realm. And what was it like working with Craig? Because he's working a lot with the actors and doing rehearsals. And then so at what point are you coming in and also talking about how to translate this kind of immersive theater staging type of thing into what's going to work in VR?

[00:26:45.127] Ming Yuan Chuan: Oh, I think he's a very, very interesting director and a very talented one. I think people should really expect the work from the future from this director. He's very genius. Okay, so because this is his first VR film, so he's very humble to listen to our advice. He actually storyboard all of the shots he wants and asks us if this works, how this should change from our perspective because we have more experience with VR. So actually a lot of ideas come and go because we think maybe this works, this doesn't and he go back and change it. We have another meeting and wow, he throw away everything and come up with new ideas. So we do this process for like months until everybody's happy. He's happy, we are happy. I feel that it would be great. Yeah, another thing I have to mention is that this piece is actually very, very low budget. So we have to consider many details how to do things cheaply but looks good. That's one thing that is very challenging for this piece. So the director actually makes a lot of things himself in order to save money.

[00:28:06.262] Kent Bye: Yeah, that's a really surreal, trippy, otherworldly piece that transcends your expectations along the way, each step. And yeah, it was really fascinating to talk about his own process and philosophy for how he designs his experiences. And I just had a chance to see your VR time capsule, which was some really stunningly beautiful 360 photo captures that were super high res, 10K, and a level of fidelity that I've never seen before. So how did you pull that off?

[00:28:36.853] Ming Yuan Chuan: Okay, the project was started back in 2016 actually, when I was developing the technology for filmic VR. I accidentally found this really really nice medium, this 360 stereoscopic photo. Most of the work you can see online is like landscape. I think I'm more interested in culture and people because I don't know if you know the process of how to take 360 photos. It's like a pair of cameras pointing at one direction and turns a little bit at a time. So it's not shooting 360 at the same time. So you have to do a lot of post-production work in order to stitch all the pictures together, in order to have this 360 stereoscopic image.

[00:29:28.585] Kent Bye: So how long does it take to take a shot? Because some of it looks like you're capturing a moment in time, but you're saying that it actually has to go over like a minute, or how long does it take?

[00:29:37.487] Ming Yuan Chuan: Some of it is manually. The final product looks like it took just one instant. But in reality, some of the photos maybe took 30 minutes to take. Sometimes something happens over here, I turn the camera here. Something happens over there, I turn the camera over there. So it's more like a mixture of a lot of time into one single shot.

[00:30:01.390] Kent Bye: Yes. So it's not only a time capsule to be able to have people in the future look at it back in the past, but you're actually stitching together many moments in time to create one moment in time.

[00:30:10.178] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, exactly. Yes.

[00:30:12.640] Kent Bye: Yeah, I found that when I saw it in the 360 video experience of it that it was really grounding me into these moments of culture within Taiwan. It really felt like I was being transported into these different places and I found some of them to be quite moving. The one in particular of everybody looking up and watching the fireworks and just the expressions on their faces of this just kind of joy and hope of this new beginning of the new year. I thought it was just a really beautiful capture and yeah people are all kind of looking in the same direction with these expressions on their faces and yeah I found it really quite emotional and moving.

[00:30:48.653] Ming Yuan Chuan: And that was also taken back in 2019, actually. New Year's from 2019 to 2020. So that was just before the pandemic. So it's a very good reminder of how we lived before the pandemic. Because in that photo, nobody wears mask. And very, very happy. And everybody can gather around. So that was a very, very powerful image, yes.

[00:31:17.013] Kent Bye: And the other one that it starts with is there's, I don't know, like hundreds of different motorcycles on one path. What is happening on that scene because the motorcycles don't seem to be moving.

[00:31:27.293] Ming Yuan Chuan: Okay, that is just everyday life in Taipei, you know. It's motorcycles everywhere. Yeah, it's normal for Taiwanese people to see that image. Yeah, but I think it could be a very powerful image for international audience to see. So I always look for this kind of impactful image, impactful situation to take these kind of photos. Taiwan is actually very challenging to talk. because we have to set up the camera on the motorcycle itself so we can get to the spot inside the motorcycle river. So it quickly took 360.

[00:32:05.681] Kent Bye: Yeah, and a lot of the scenes that you're taking are moments in Taiwanese culture where other people are paying attention to something that's happening. So parades or different rituals, lanterns going up, and there's also gay rights protests. So maybe talk about the range of different events that you have within that piece.

[00:32:24.978] Ming Yuan Chuan: Actually, I took a lot of subjects, not just culture, not just events. So the one you saw is kind of like a best of. It's kind of like a sample of the piece I took over the years. So I'm always fascinated by the old culture and events in Taiwan. I think this is a very good image. It's a very important image to be captured for the future generation to see. because some of the events might not exist for a lot of years. Because of the way we do things, sometimes buildings get destroyed and cities change. So I think right now what I'm doing is to preserve this kind of culture, this kind of image for the future generation to see.

[00:33:18.776] Kent Bye: I saw you here at Venice seeing a lot of different experiences. Have you been able to see all the experiences here?

[00:33:25.178] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yeah, I've booked most of it, but some of it is very hard to book. I really like to go to... This is actually my second time here at Venice Film Festival. A lot of things have changed. This year, I believe, is the biggest year, right? I saw a lot of pieces.

[00:33:47.317] Kent Bye: Anything that struck out for you as you're watching it? Because you have three pieces that you worked on that are in the festival, so what are the things that were striking to you as you're watching other pieces here?

[00:33:56.533] Ming Yuan Chuan: OK, yes, as you said, you mentioned that I have three pieces here. So I was very, very stressful and very tired for the last few years making these three films. So for me, this time in Venice, it was like vacation for me. Yes, I'm here to relax, to watch films. Yeah, actually, right now, my number one is Dazzle, the black and white dance piece.

[00:34:26.159] Kent Bye: Oh, Dazzle, yeah, the Dazzle, yeah.

[00:34:28.302] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yeah, I was very, very fortunate to get a chance to wear the motion capture suit and dance with the dancer. Wow, it was a very, very interesting experience. I really love it.

[00:34:41.873] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's really quite transportive and immersive and yeah, I also had a chance to be within VR with the motion capture. Yeah, lots of really interesting experiments here with embodiments and the re-encontre was one, I'm not sure if you had a chance to see that, but like a lot of really interesting mixed reality stuff that's happening there and Yeah, I look forward to unpacking it more with more of the creators and gonna have a discussion, hopefully, potentially have a discussion with another fellow VR critic or other people who've been able to see a big, large section of the projects. But I saw you out there and not a lot of other creators have a chance a lot of times to see stuff, but I know that you've been making an effort to try to see as much as you can.

[00:35:23.051] Ming Yuan Chuan: Yes, I think this is very important for the creators to try every different kind of VR project. Because I think this year, to my surprise, because I haven't got many chance to try out VRChat, project made with VRChat, so this year is a very surprise for me to see a lot of great work using VRChat and interact with the character. Well, this is a surprise for me, really.

[00:35:53.331] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, finally, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality and immersive storytelling might be, and what it might be able to enable?

[00:36:04.407] Ming Yuan Chuan: I always like to joke to my friends and in the future I might be in a group that is protest against VR because I think VR will cause a lot of problem especially for teenagers because you can create a world that is very encouraging and very satisfied in the VR world, but they won't want to leave that world. They will think the real world is very cruel and very stressful. They want to live just inside VR. I think that might be the future. So it's very interesting that I'm doing VR right now, but maybe in the future I will be protesting against it. I don't know.

[00:36:50.299] Kent Bye: Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?

[00:36:55.505] Ming Yuan Chuan: Actually, I don't know if this is suitable for this podcast, but I want to talk about, because yesterday I was here listening to you interview Xing Chen about One of the shots, it's the last shot with a lot of crowds. Everybody is still, but as the camera pans, you feel like you are in a conflict. As the camera goes more and more, the conflict gets worse. That shot was actually when we were brainstorming. I showed the director one of the music videos I made a lot of years ago. It's called Pour More. We had similar ideas because that piece was made a very long time ago, like more than 10 years. That was a very early stage that we tried out photogrammetry. we scan a lot of miniature people like dolls so we can create like an army and we have a camera movement like this just moving moving moving and you see conflicts so I show this to the director She immediately said, ah, that's a very powerful way to end this piece. And that one was like 2D for YouTube. And, wow, what if we create this in VR in 360? That would be much, much more powerful. So, yeah, that's how this shot was come, yes. So everybody gives some ideas, a lot of ideas was coming from the production designer as well, as well as the lighting artist. I think this is a very interesting piece that everybody collaborate and throw ideas and the result was, I'm very happy with the result. I think this is a good way to work.

[00:38:42.944] Kent Bye: You had mentioned that you had been listening to the Voices of VR podcast. Sometimes when I put out the podcast I send out these dispatches out around the world and I never know where it ends up and so it's always nice to hear that. I'm just curious to hear some reflections on what it's like to be on Taiwan and to hear my adventures and travels and to hear from the creators from around the world.

[00:39:01.964] Ming Yuan Chuan: Well, for me, it's very surprising because for me, most of the VR I encounter is more like filmmaking. But after listening to your podcast, I was open to a lot of views. I don't know that VR can be that useful. It can be used in a lot of places. So that was very eye-opening. Thank you for your podcast.

[00:39:30.378] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, it sounds like you've had a couple of busy years leading up to this. Three projects all landing here all at the same time. So I can only imagine the last couple of months of Finnish come all up at the same time. So hopefully you have a nice rest and continue to see different experiences here at Venice. And yeah, thanks for sitting down and taking the time to talk about your own journey into working on all these different projects.

[00:39:55.031] Ming Yuan Chuan: Thank you very much. Thank you.

[00:39:57.087] Kent Bye: So that was Mingyuan Chen, he's the VR supervisor for Red Tail, The Man Who Couldn't Leave, and All That Remains. So if you want more context for the wrap-ups, then I'd recommend checking out the episode 1121, where I talk about all the 30 pieces in competition. And in episode 1144, there's an immersive panel that I did at Venice with some other immersive critics talking about the art of reviewing immersive art and immersive entertainment. I recommend checking that out in order to dig into a little bit of my own process of what I'm trying to do with these larger series and trying to unpack and discuss the art and science of immersive storytelling with a lot of these different pieces that we're showing at Venice Immersive 2022. So that's all that I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast, and if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and so I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue to bring you this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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