I interviewed VR filmmakers Hugh Hou & Keeley Turner at Meta Connect 2023. See more context in the rough transcript below.
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.
[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 looks at the future of spatial computing. You can support the podcast at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. So this is episode number seven of 12 of looking at different interviews from MetaConnect, unpacking all the different news and buzz from the event. Today's episode is with Hugh Ho and Keeley Turner. They are both VR filmmakers and Hugh is a YouTuber who has sort of got into teaching other creators how to monetize and make money on the platform. And then he himself started to actually make content where he's reviewing different 360 video cameras. If you have any question around what kind of camera you might need, then there's a ton of different resources that Hugh has. on his channel. Highly recommend checking it out and he's also producing films on YouTube but he recommends folks go actually check out his programs on Meta's platform on the MetaQuest TV. He's got a whole Metaverse stage. He's also got different stuff he's producing under his name and then collaborating a lot with Keely Turner who's also a VR filmmaker making content for both Stereo 180 as well as with 360 video and so Yeah, I think this is something where generally it's probably pretty overlooked in the broader XR community where there's not a lot of discussion or news of what's happening on the meta quest TV a lot of folks are most more focused on an interactive portion but I know there's been interviews in the past where John Carmack would say that around half of the time that folks are spending on the VR headsets were in some of these more like watching videos or With more passive content a little bit less active And so I think as I go to different film festivals around the world there's certainly a lot of folks that are still pushing forward the medium of virtual reality storytelling immersive storytelling and both active and more 360 180 platforms and there's also a whole more nascent ecosystem I'd say with abilities to create and distribute some of this different 360 180 content and And both Hugh and Keely are on the front end of where that current ecosystem is. I'd say that one of the conclusions is that the distribution channels are still a little bit fraught, especially for folks just getting into it. So there's a lot of like reflective tips and tricks that they both have for other folks if they want to start to get a leg hold into this portion of the industry. And as the Apple Vision Pro is starting to come out as well, there is certainly a lot of focus for folks watching more passive content. I know Tim Cook has said that he watched like the entirety of the third season of Ted Lasso on Apple Vision Pro. They were highlighting different things like watching 3D videos like Avatar in Apple Vision Pro. And then also with the phones being able to do spatial capture of memories and be able to rewatch them in the context of the Apple Vision Pro. So the Apple Vision Pro is able to actually capture some stereo content and then also on the phones, which I have a little bit of questions around because the IPD is not necessarily like the correct length for some of the different lenses that are being advertised for the different types of captures that are happening. So I think the parallax is going to be somewhat off when it comes to just looking at the scale of it, just by what I've seen. I haven't had a chance to have my eyes on some of the different content that's produced there, but you ideally want to have the IPD length like an average IPD length of the different dual lenses in order to capture something that's like truly stereoscopic. So anyway, whatever Apple is doing, that's going to be a portion of what their strategy is, is to include more of this type of immersive content. So I wanted to get a little bit more context from both Hugh and Keeley about that, but also just the broader ecosystem of distribution and their journeys into becoming VR filmmakers. So that's what we're coming on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Hugh and Keeley happened on Thursday, September 28th, 2023 at MetaConnect at Meta's headquarters in Menlo Park, California. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:04:03.575] Hugh Hou: My name is Hugh Ho. I'm a YouTuber. I focus on VR filmmaking. My goal is to teach everybody to pick up a VR camera and create content in the metaverse, not just for meta, but for any headset, head-mounted display, the virtual world, focus on the aspect of filmmaking. So my job is to try to inspire filmmakers to make films, tell stories immersively.
[00:04:28.877] Keeley Turner: Hi, my name is Keely Turner and I am a VR filmmaker and I'm so inspired to inspire other people, the audience who watches my VR films in the metaverse, to think about the world in a different way and to bring them to beautiful places in the world that they might not be able to go themselves physically. So I like to bring people, I like to say teleport people to other places in the world.
[00:04:59.020] Hugh Hou: I want to tackle what she just said. So I've been known for the camera, got a review camera, but also we create original content on Meta. I have a path called Metaverse Stage, and then other channel is just my name. So we travel around the world and film that in VR, capture in immersive video format. since seven years ago so it's been like seven or eight years and then some of the comment we saw is very inspiring and i saw people like comment on it say thank you so much for capturing this place i'm in my dead bed right now and i don't think i have much time left But I saw your content. I cried in the headset. Thank you so much for doing that. So a comment like this and experience like this really inspire us to keep going, to tell our unique story around the world immersively and bring people there. That's what the motivation drive me to create content and also want to teach the same technique we use to other creators so they can capture their part of the world to tell a story.
[00:05:55.160] Kent Bye: ROB DODSON Right. And maybe you could give a bit more context as to your background and your journey into working with VR and 360 video.
[00:06:02.473] Hugh Hou: Yeah, for sure. So my background, I'm a traditional filmmaker. Before I have my own channel, I kind of have a company that Y Label works for YouTube. So we create training videos for creators on how to make money from their craft. Since that project with YouTube, I get the chance to travel around the world, to meet creators around the world. In Japan, in Korea, in Australia, in India, two cities in India, Mumbai and New Delhi, UK. So I got really inspired by other creators, how they successful story, and then inspired me to become a creator. And that is like around eight years ago. And as a content creator filmmakers, even eight years ago, the 2D world is really crowded. So in order to stand out, I think I need to find a new format to do it. And that is when DK-1, actually before DK-1, just came out for Meta. And also YouTube VR just launched. Buggy, but just launched. So we actually have a platform to post. So I start get my first ever VR camera, which is a duct tape GoPro, put together. and then later on I get the Nikon key mission and then move on from Insta so I get all the consumer VR and professional VR cameras start just telling story with different generation and that learning my own mistake and then share on the internet freely.
[00:07:23.718] Keeley Turner: Yeah, and so how I got into VR was I was living in Asheville, North Carolina, where I grew up, and there were a couple of startups dabbling into the space of VR in 2017. And I kind of tagged along. My friend brought me in. At first, I was working in stage lighting design. And my friend from stage lighting design was like, hey, you want to try out VR? And so this startup company at the time had bought outright Nokia Ozo, which is like, this old camera that, you know, I wasn't part of the GoPro days where you would duct tape GoPros together. We had the Nokia OZO and we took it all over. First, we started out with concerts and we filmed Organ Eclipse. that happened one time in Oregon, and it was really fun putting that big camera onto the stage. And then after Oregon Eclipse, we took it to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone and captured nature and things like that. It was really fun to do that. And then after that, I worked with another startup from Asheville, ironically, and we got to travel all over the country. And one of the big jobs that I got to experience was working at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver, Colorado and that was such an amazing experience. That was my first time at Red Rocks and I always heard about this legendary venue and to capture that in VR and to direct a team of other crew members and we had like four Insta360 Pros at the time on the stage, that was really fun. We were capturing widespread panic. I'm not a huge widespread panic fan but It was really fun to be there and to feel the vibe of the crowd and to see that interaction between the crowd and the lead singer and to capture that in VR and at the time it was a full moon so you could see the bright full moon and it was just such an outer body experience watching it back I'd never felt that before And with VR, when you capture yourself, it's really like an outer body experience. So that's how I got into VR, and I love it. I moved to LA, and I met Hugh Ho, and he shot my first VR film called In Tandem. And since then, we've been working together on so many projects. I helped him with his VR course at the time. And so it's been a really fun journey.
[00:09:54.775] Kent Bye: And what were you doing before you got into VR?
[00:09:57.320] Keeley Turner: I kind of just graduated college two years after I graduated. I got into VR so I was pretty new to the space. I did take some courses for filmmaking and I learned all of the production side of things because in college I actually learned post-production first. and my degree is in new media and I got that at UNC Asheville and that was really fun and then I was yearning for more information on production and I fell in love with production. I learned the RELX Reds and Black Magics and what a c-stand was and all of that so it was really fun.
[00:10:38.642] Kent Bye: Awesome. So yeah, maybe talk a bit about the different phases of how you make sense of your career in 360 video. Because I know that when YouTube came on and made the possibility to even upload the 360 video, that was a huge new opportunity to be able to start to explore this. But then you also have platforms like Meta having things like Oculus TV. And there was a funding of a lot of different immersive content there for a while. Maybe pulled back a little bit now at this point, as far as I can tell. And yeah, I would just love to hear a little bit for each of you as you go through these different chapters of your career based upon how the ecosystem of distribution has been evolving and still, I'd say, isn't necessarily as well known and used in the broader XR industry. So there's a lot of capabilities that are maybe flying underneath the radar still, even what YouTube can even do. But yeah, I'd love to hear just your own journey and how you see how this ecosystem has been evolving.
[00:11:33.498] Hugh Hou: So I definitely love to actually use your platform to promote the idea of XR filmmaking. Because as you said, it's still a niche within the niche. I mean, meta itself, like VR itself or metaverse itself is a niche. And then we are in that niche of a niche. So most people get a VR headset, they think about playing Beat Saber, playing VR game for kids. But that's a very narrow idea for the general public understanding about VR, which is hard. It's hard to change that because if you look at YouTube, the most famous reviewer, YouTuber, they review VR game. They talk about gaming. Game got viewership. Filmmaking is an art that require decent college education, money, work, and then the distribution is not really there. And also, we are kind of fight against... We are from Hollywood. We have kind of like... Hollywood thinks we are a competition, but Hollywood thinks YouTube is a competition. And then we are even more competition because we are in YouTube and do stuff on there. So let's pull back like distribution. So it's going to be always be tough for us. So even though we've been in a space for the past, I've been in a space for the past 10 years, growing is hard because distribution is not there still not there think about how people can really watch immersive content is metaquest tv which is highest quality youtube vr and then some off-shoot platform that i will not recommend anybody to invest because there's no audience base there and there's no like legit monetization model there neither they just gotta take your content, take your IPs, right? So you bend your finger, there's not much distribution. It's coming, like Apple Vision Pro is coming, so hopefully that will be a big platform for us, but nobody know. And right now, really legit platform-wise is YouTube VR, which is not a good quality platform. I am sorry YouTube, but they need to up their resolution and then meta which requires a headset. YouTube VR actually also requires a headset. You need PSVR 2 or you need a Steam setup to really watch your content. So to survive as a creator, as an influencer, this day of life is all about numbers. which is to us as a storyteller it's kind of sad things because like every younger generation addicted to TikTok so you have to like the storytelling structure is that you have to grab the attention in the first one second not two seconds the first one second something fashy some sound effects whatnot you do something crazy to get the attention And then the platform, like TikTok or Instagram Reel, will validate you for the next three seconds, and then will push your content through the algorithm. All this BS, right? All the math, all the thing that will get people to watch more content. From the platform perspective, great, good for them, right? From a storytelling perspective, that does not work. Think about how we tell story. We surround in the campfire, with a little bit liquor up, or whatever they use in the old time. We sit there, and there's a wise old man, or wise person, or man or lady, right? If someone would tell an engaging story, but it starts slow, they build a three-act structure, they hook you in, they do all that. And then those stories usually being passed down from generation. We still hear those stories from our grandparents, from our grandparents' grandparents. That's culture thing, that like really raw connection with story is cut. disappear because of social media, because of fast content. And you see like major Hollywood movie become that way as well. Look at Spider-Man. The fast cutting is just like watching a TikTok video from Spider-Man. It's one of the major watched movie recently. A lot of movies like that now, Hollywood adopting the format for storytelling because they want to attract younger generation. So As a storyteller, it's very tough to tell a good story. But we found that VR is the only exceptional case that make it possible. Because when you put on a VR headset, you are committed to the story. Socially, it's really weird to take them off unless it's horror. You just really don't like it. But you at least give it a good five minutes to sink in the story. And then in VR, we can really sink the story. If you have a good storyteller, we can sink the story. We can really tell the story and have a great impact. I mean, why we tell story? We want to impact people emotionally. We want to change something, maybe change their thought about thing they do, maybe like saving the environment or whatnot, like any idea, any idea. We want to like change people's mindset through story. And I feel like that as a VR storyteller, we see more success. we get higher quality content pushing into people's brain than anything we ever create. Yes, we don't have the number, we don't have the following, we don't have the growth margin, we talk to brand and say, you guys don't even distribution figure it out. I mean, why would you pay you guys? My defense is like, yes, we are not about numbers, we are about quantity. If you spend the money, we spend the time, we tell a great story, people watch it, we gets it. But good luck for your three-second ad on TikTok. People just scroll through it. So, I know, I'm not sure, I've just got the tangent right there. I'm not sure I answered your question there.
[00:16:39.653] Kent Bye: Yeah, so... Well, yeah, I'd love to hear any thoughts or reactions you have to that.
[00:16:47.043] Keeley Turner: Yeah, so my thoughts piggyback on what Hugh said, you know, within meta, they even forget themselves that VR filmmaking is a thing. And honestly, it's a huge market potential that they could tap into that they're not. I understand that a lot of business, a lot of money is coming from the gaming community, but I also believe there's a huge untapped market for filmmakers to create VR films. Either it's 3DOF or 6DOF, 3DOF being a bit more passive, 6DOF a little bit more interaction, but not so much as like a game. I think that's the future of filmmaking in this world of this metaverse VR experience. You can literally teleport your audience to a scene that the character is in, and there's so many different ways to tell a story, whether it's fly on the wall, choose your own adventure, or the audience member is a character in your film that you create as a VR filmmaker. So I think there's a lot of potential in telling stories and captivating that filmmaking audience, those people who love to watch movies, TV shows, who just want to watch something and feel very immersed with their favorite actor or actress in the story. I think that's a really cool place to tell stories in VR, to immerse the audience into the story. And then I also want to talk about the ethics involved. Your brain really can't understand the difference between your memories in the real world versus VR memories. Even myself, like, I almost feel like I have these memories that I've made these films and it's I mean, you feel it's very visceral, is all I can say. And so with that comes a really big responsibility to create something that you feel like you need to tell that story because this moment will really be ingrained into the viewer's audience. So I think that for me, you know, I bring intention to every story that I create in VR because I understand the high impact it has on the audience.
[00:19:13.022] Kent Bye: Yeah, the original question was around distribution. But I wanted to take on what you said and kind of work backwards. Because I just recently was at Venice Immersive and had a chance to talk to Ryan Genji Thomas, who is a creative XR producer at Meta, who's worked on a lot of the animation projects, but also funding cool animation projects. And one of the comments he said to me was that there's this difference between buying an app on the App Store versus going to what is essentially like a TV and going into a model of TV where everything's for free. You don't pay for anything, and you just watch it. But that has created this ecosystem where if it's an interactive app, you can pay for it. But if it's a passive 360 video where none of your agency is changing how the film plays out, certainly there can be ways that your body's reacting to things. But you can't express agency to interact with it. And so as Meta was trying to cut back, Anything that wasn't generating any revenue was essentially on the chopping block to be cut, which Ryan Genji Thomas is an animation producer, funded over 30 different Quill animations and then basically stopped and pivoted into going into Horizon Worlds. So I'd love to get a little bit of an update as to if there was like a golden era of getting funding from meta or if this kind of like stopped or your take of that story.
[00:20:19.818] Hugh Hou: It's not even meta, let's take meta out of it. The ecosystem, there's meta, there's Pico, there's HTC, there's Apple, there's Google, there's all these companies. So it's distribution focus on audience. Look at the demographic right now, people who watch VR. Gamer, male, kid. like young generation, mostly male, and mostly, you know, the gamer generation, right? So it's a very lopsided, one-sided audience. And why this happen? It's because a platform like that generates product to fit this loop of audience cycles. They are not expanding. They ignore the entire distribution channel, like female. People love story, love passive storytelling. Apple is the only one, as a company, I'm not like churning the horn on Apple, but they're the only one really care about it with an expensive hazard coming in. For the audience, they call it spatial computing, right? It's for people who just want to relax, enjoy a good piece of content. And everybody have Netflix. You grab like anybody, they have Netflix, they have Hulu, they have multiple services. That's how they entertain themselves. The good piece of story, we just ignore the population. Then there is money to be made. If you can make a headset that a girl will wear without worry about her makeup and her hairstyle, that will make money, which is Meta is like Ray-Ban. I'm sitting right in front of the Ray-Ban and Meta. That is the initiative. They're pushing that direction. To circle back, the Meta funding cutting is, I don't think they are too in it to see a bigger picture because we're kind of outside. The filmmaking world is a multi-million industry. I mean, yes, it's expensive to get in, but the payback can be also huge. Again, require collab. Let's also pick Apple's example. They partnered with Disney to launch their initiative, which is a big launch with Disney and other IPs. But Meta has creators. A lot of creators can tell great stories and move them from Instagram platform into meta platform. And those creators, I mean, I'm a creator myself, I know how much money they can make with their audience. And those audience have the potential to enjoy, percentage of them can enjoy long form content in VR. It's possible. I think that if we invest and build a product and really grow the audience, the audience will come. Now we just think the cycle of people will for sure buy the product, which is gamers. Yes, they will buy the next game because they're used to it. But how about growing your market share? That's my opinion.
[00:22:50.794] Keeley Turner: Yeah, I would just piggyback on what Hugh said. I do feel as though there's not a lot of female content out there geared towards the female audience. I mean, that's half the population itself that you're not looking at when creating, you know, VR films or VR games. You know, a lot of, you know, women do like certain games like Beat Saber and things like that. But I think there's just a huge market that's being overlooked at the early stages. But I think more and more women, I've seen a lot today at this event that are involved in like horizon worlds and things like that. It's so exciting to see as a female in this space. When I create films, I don't really come at it from a female perspective. What will inspire just anyone really. What will talk to the human experience, bringing more of a human experience to this tech. To me it's not all about the tech, it's about the story. Utilizing the tech to tell a captivating story. That's first thought in my mind when approaching VR.
[00:24:01.784] Hugh Hou: yeah just last question so as also the concept confusion here 360 video which is youtube vr is a three dot experience passive this is what i've been known for because i review a lot of 360 camera but what we do in a creative side we double between vr 180 360, 3D 360, and 6 degree of freedom, which is volumetric capture video. So we have all this format. I mean, tech is just a tool for us to tell a story. When we tell a story, we combine multiple technology. We use photogrammetry, volumetric capture, AI, all this to create an interactive, immersive experience, not just watching a passive film, but we interact with our audience. We create stuff that is next, obviously, because of budget, huge budget as well. But we always try to also break the boundary. So that comment about, oh, it's not interactive, it's passive, it's not true for our world. It's a very limited mindset of what we do as a creator, as a storyteller. So I think that if we have the resources to build I think we can build something amazing to unlock an entire audience for the XR community.
[00:25:10.508] Kent Bye: I'd love to dial back a little bit of the economics of like funding and financing and also distribution because With film it's a pretty mature medium as you have like over a hundred years of film as it's been around and you have these Platforms where you start with movies and people go pay for movies and then eventually you have things like Netflix but Netflix only exists after things have had like a business model to generate and Fun things and so one of the things that Danielle zero of Estrella, which is part of Atlas 5 she said that you know, they are trying to create an ecosystem of distribution for these immersive stories that they've been creating. A lot of them are interactive, but Meta in some sense of going to the MetaQuest TV, everything being free, creates this expectation that if you want a story, it should be free, but if you want something interactive, then you pay for it. But it's created this lack of funding for folks to get into this. to be able to actually produce things because there's no viable distribution. YouTube monetization doesn't seem like the 360 video is going to be very much good of return of investment of whatever it takes to produce it. And then you have whatever is happening with meta. Maybe they had a phase where they were funding content, but from my understanding, it seems like they've cut back. So yeah, I'd love to hear a little bit of reflection of how you've been able to make it as an independent producer of 360 videos when the financing of everything is so fraught.
[00:26:24.935] Hugh Hou: So for first, I try to dodge a bullet because a lot of things on the NDA. So I just like don't touch on just focus on meta. And then for the distribution, like for the financing model, I can tell you from my channel, I'm a creator primarily on YouTube VR. That's all my viewership come from. And then when I build an audience and move them to meta because that is higher quality than watch the content. So my fan will usually discover my content through YouTube VR and then move to meta quest then watch the same piece of content with higher quality cache download in 8K. So I can tell you right now, as a creator on YouTube, You definitely can make money. I mean, I don't want to tell you number, but we do make revenue on 360 video, just passive video. A good one, not a bad one. I release a lot of bad one as well, and I can tell you the number is different. The good one does make money, but I'll tell you any creator, YouTube creator at least, they don't make money from ad revenue. They make money from brand sponsorship, 100% of them. That money is all come from brand. They are same as us. If you can tell a great story, VR or not, you get a brand behind it, you can make money. You don't need Meta to pay you. You can have other brand that is not Meta but want to ship you on Meta to pay you to be on that platform. On Meta side, obviously, there's a lot more homework to do. They need to build a subscription system. They need to build a suggestion system for content to go into your feed when you put the headset on. The feed right now is Instagram, game, game, game, game, game. YouTube VR, Metacrest TV. Literally like that. And then game, game, game, game, game, and then your Instagram feed. So it's not because of it's a niche market, it's the platform make it as a niche market. So people will not discover stuff. It's all about discovery. Like a TikTok algorithm, all discovery by a platform, platform driven. So if the platform doesn't put algorithm favor for us, Yeah, we will suffer. And then in all manner. So, distribution is kind of a thing that like, you know, Catch-22. I mean, yeah, it depends on platform. But again, like, people can change that if they want to change that.
[00:28:32.812] Keeley Turner: I would also add that a lot of our friends have had success showcasing their work in places like museums or selling tickets to theater experience that they set up to showcase their work. So, I do recommend that. I think that would be a really great way to generate revenue. If you have an investor that's really interested in revenue, which is kind of tough right now in the ecosystem, I think that will change though in the future. My hope is that it will change for the creators, at least with Meta. And I think A lot of innovation is going to happen when Apple comes in with their new headset. Everyone's going to innovate. Having competitors in the market is always great for innovation and new ways of thinking of distribution, I think will be really phenomenal for the creators. So I'm really excited about that aspect coming in. But like I said, having those ticket sales, you're kind of taking out the platform itself, utilizing their headsets in person, and you get that instant feedback from the audience, what they think about your film. That's really rewarding as well. So I really recommend that.
[00:29:51.839] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I've actually watched a number of your videos as I was in the process of considering potentially buying a 360 video camera, and it was sort of like this process of trying to figure out what's my use case, what are the trade-offs, do I want something to scan a room for real estate as a different use case than, say, you know, having something that is portable and I can shoot video on the fly, or I want to have a high enough resolution of a scan to do some sort of like photogrammetry or whatnot, or now there's these whole new techniques of Gaussian splatting to do these new volumetric, completely new, innovative render pipelines that are going to be a part of these different cameras. And so I'd love to hear how you start to think about the ecosystem of the different options and cameras that are out there, and which ones you like to use for different contexts.
[00:30:38.653] Hugh Hou: So that can be all day interview, I try to cut it short. Like I'm in all that space, like Luma AI NERF, Galaxian Splat, and all the stuff. It's exciting to be a immersive content creator with so many tool, like lots of those AI tool is free. You don't need a 360 camera to start making 360 video. You can use your iPhone with a LiDAR, start scanning the environment, you can bring it in, you can get photo real quality within seconds. Like the new NVIDIA AI coming in, Even crazier, which I can't talk too much. So it's coming, and as a creator, we're really spoiled to be surrounded by new tech to tell story that our ancestors or even our parents would not even imagine. So I would think that do your research, figure out what kind of creator are you, that if you're a tech-driven, you can figure out how to code. I think you should research in AI, research in generated 360 video, which is possible. Nerf is a great way to go. Glasses Black is a really great way to go. Do that research. You can get a consumer 360 camera like this, like the Insta, like the GoPro, like get one of those and start to just go on a trip, just film it, just for fun, like post it on the show show, post it on YouTube VR and just see the reaction, see if you can build an audience. at the end of the day it's all about your story what you're trying to tell you have a great story to tell like climate change for example like something like big topic you want to invest you want to get investor you want to get brand endorsement you want to make the content look great you want to invest in a professional camera which is not gonna be cheap gotta be canon r5c with the dual fisheye lens cinema camera but every filmmaker this is no news for filmmakers they need great camera like re alexa to make a good piece of content but they start with their gopro same idea so start cheap start free like there's so many ai tools you can do it for free and then after you graduate from free Get a cheap consumer camera, film it for one year, and then when you land it, your first client, then invest in the camera. And my theory is, always rent, don't buy. You don't own stuff, just rent it. You can rent VR camera easy on Lensrento, not sponsored by them, but you can rent camera from anywhere, from your friends. If you can, do that before you really invest in the piece of camera. If you invest, make sure you can make money out of it.
[00:33:00.815] Kent Bye: You held up a 360 camera here with a little pole that says Insta360. What's this camera?
[00:33:05.818] Hugh Hou: This is actually the pole from Insta360. The camera is a Qoocam 3, the brand new Qoocam 3 from Kandao. It just released literally last week. Yeah, so yeah, it's a fun little camera. It's very cheap. It's like the most affordable 360 camera can shoot like 6K 30 frames. So I'm just testing it out. What's the price of it? It's $349. Yeah, so within the X3. OK.
[00:33:31.032] Kent Bye: Yeah, I know, Insta360, you know, when it's a CES in 2017, they had a lot of different cameras. They seem like a pretty big player in the space.
[00:33:38.861] Hugh Hou: I mean, action camera, I will start with Insta, and then GoPro, because Insta is mature, it's post-production. That is what costs you money, not the camera. So you want to save money, Insta has a really robust post-production pipeline, you can cut it on the phone. As a creator nowadays, social media creator, you can literally cut an anti-spicy film on the phone. It's possible. So I would start from there, but don't stop there. Gain the knowledge, and then invest in a heavyweight camera. Meta will not allow you to submit anything shot on the Insta, let's be period. If you want to release on Meta platform, you better have a high quality camera.
[00:34:15.154] Kent Bye: How about you in terms of different cameras that you like? Are there things that you like to use personally or things you like professionally?
[00:34:21.721] Keeley Turner: I love the Canon R5C with the Canon dual fisheye lens. It's just been such a game changer for us internally working with this new camera setup. It's just so much easier to shoot this VR 180 content. Shooting 180 as well is really nice because you can be behind the camera while you're directing. You don't have to hide, like we used to hide with the 360 cameras and things like that. You feel really silly, you feel like you're playing hide-and-go-seek, whatever. But with VR 180 it's really fun to be behind the camera, watch the action transpire. You can even move the 180 camera a little bit easier than a 360 camera, so that's really nice. I still really do love 360, creating 360 content, but as far as meta goes, they really do prefer the 180 3D. format, so that's always a good bet to go with if you're going to create for meta as a platform. I would say YouTube loves 360, what we can tell, so it really depends on what platform you're posting your content to, but I love the Canon dual fisheye lens and they're always super helpful at Canon with any questions we have.
[00:35:38.522] Kent Bye: Yeah, I just watched the David Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies and did an interview with Lewis Ball at Venice Immersive. And yeah, just last year at Venice Immersive, there was actually The Man Who Couldn't Leave, which was a 360 video that was produced out of Taiwan, and post-production by Phonique. And yeah, just the types of 360 videos that are coming out of Taiwan, I think they're taking things to the next level.
[00:35:57.224] Hugh Hou: Phoenix actually disappeared. Taiwan, the whole community been disappeared for the last year. We don't know where they go. Yeah, I actually really wish they come back. They never share their camera tech or how they do it. I can tell you right now, it's using bin splitter, really old school Hollywood way, very expensive way to capture 3D in that level. But the problem is, as you said, immersive studio come and go because of financing. So that's why I said that to make this whole space survive, we need to go the influencer route, the social media route, small, limbo, affordable production to focus on story instead of camera. My whole point is, yes, you can have a great camera, great team that won like Venice and that will never be heard of again. Even if you won Emmy, even if you won like big festival, I mean, it doesn't mean anything in this world. But if you like make a consistent serialized content that people come back for it, you build yourself a niche, a great audience, and then you can push out your story in a higher content. So focus on your story, your audience, building that instead of wasting money on the higher end camera or even film festival promotion. I think it's a better route to go.
[00:37:12.547] Kent Bye: Yeah, there are folks like Felix and Paul who've made a whole career in 360 video and maybe the exception of the rule of maybe having funding or support or just the level of quality and being at the right place in the time.
[00:37:21.831] Hugh Hou: You need a lot of connection. We actually talked to Paul yesterday. So they make great content. The thing is, yes, I mean, that's more her world. This is why she should probably answer that in the filmmaker. Actually, I'll let you answer that. Because that is your world. You spend like a month to make a piece of one content.
[00:37:36.724] Keeley Turner: It all depends on your budget. 360 will blow your budget depending on what you're creating, whether it's a documentary style or more cinematic style. 360 will blow your budget and then forget about moving the camera unless you have a lot of money to move it. I would recommend if you are moving the camera use like a rover or something like that and then you have to paint it out and post. I mean post is so expensive when working in 360. I love 360 and it's really fun as a director or a writer for 360 because you can have multiple different storylines happening around the camera basically. So there's a storyline A happening in front of camera, storyline B happening on the side, and it's kind of fun if you find those Easter eggs or gold nuggets. But to me, I right now, we're traveling all the time. And when we're traveling, we want to make something that's easier to edit in post. Because, you know, when you get into VFX in VR and you're shooting in 3D, it just gets really complicated really fast. unless you have a really good budget, a really great team that can help you with the editing process. I would recommend not getting bogged down at the beginning of your VR career with the editing process because it can be really time consuming. It can consume a lot of data. Data is a huge thing in VR, especially VR 360. terabytes and terabytes and terabytes of footage and then you have to back that footage up or else you are at risk for losing your data. So it's a whole process. I do recommend starting out with a consumer level 360 camera if you want to try that route. And then when you have the amazing budget going into 360 with that budget is really fun and maybe doing mono with wedges or whatever with the Venice 2 and things like that.
[00:39:41.866] Hugh Hou: I think that's how I tell creators, which is not filmmakers. It's just like programming. It's just like building Horizon World. You don't need to learn anything about coding. You can start just using primitive model to build in Horizon World, and you can build your world in one day, literally, right? And learn Unity, you can build your own player, own game in one day, Unreal as well, right? But after that, you can get really in-depth, like you can build crazy work with Unreal, like spend months and months. Same as VR filmmaking, same as our medium. You can make videos so easy with this camera instantly, literally like five minutes. But if you want to make a good film, it gotta take you a month. to do it, and the team to do it. It's the same idea. Yeah, a good piece of coin like Flix and Port is amazing, but how long it takes them to make it. I have the insight. It's insane. And they also got a grant from the government. So really, it boils down to the idea. The idea and the story. You have a great story, you can tell the story with your mouth to investors and sell them your idea. That is a great idea and that you will get the thing you need, the team, the money, the resources from Meta, from YouTube and whatnot to build your dream. It's just like any business, making a film like anything else, it is a business.
[00:41:01.901] Keeley Turner: I would add don't get so hyped up into the clout of film festivals. They will take your money and you might not even publish your film and it will be in the film circuit forever. You know, I recommend sharing your film with the world and getting feedback from the get-go so you know what works, what doesn't work, and then when the time comes you really are proud of a project, submit it to a film festival and get their feedback. It's so rewarding. But the whole point of making these VR films is so that way you can share these stories with your audience and that's so important and you know some of these films that I've heard in the past I've never even seen them and it's so sad because I know they're beautiful beautiful pieces but they get wrapped up in these film festivals and then they don't see the light of day but you know don't get wrapped up in the cloud I recommend as a starting out VR filmmaker.
[00:42:05.416] Hugh Hou: Laurel will not build your audience. War will not build your audience. Good story, consistently in a serialized style, build your audience. Look at the Netflix. It's not just one-off movie show. It's a serialized content. So I agree with her. Film festival is great, but it's only one way to get you to be discovered. There's so many other ways.
[00:42:26.580] Kent Bye: Yeah, you mentioned the whole social media aspect. And Felix and Paul with the Space Explorers were doing this for a 360 video, but they're going to have other formats and other media, like videos and films and stuff that they've been able to shoot and translate it. And the NC360, what I find, actually, I see a lot more footage of folks who are shooting on a 360 camera, but they're exporting and maybe doing a wraparound and then having all these different unique views that you could only get if you had shooting all 360 video all around. And that was one of the things that Paul Raffaello told me, is that with Space Explorers, there's certain shots they got that now they can get a very specific framing and a 2D translation of some of this stuff. And so that's a thing that I also see is leaning on what you said in terms of the influencer pipeline. But that- I don't have an opinion on that.
[00:43:12.333] Hugh Hou: Yeah, what's that? so so again this concept is no news right in the broadcast of the broadcast background it's just an area of interest basically you capture in full 8k in a big stadium you pick area of interest in 4k for a recap of a special moment so we use it in broadcast type in years so 360 insta as a marketing company love to say that that you just see camera capture in full 8k but you only extract v-frame 1080p to your phone on your TikTok or Instagram Reel. And then GoPro attack on it, and now this whole space become using an immersive camera to tell 2D story. That's a limited mindset, which I have a strong opinion of it. If you invest in a 360 camera, try to tell story in an immersive way, releasing a matter truly immersive. It is a limited mindset to chasing for view. Like, yes, you get view, you get live, you get a tiny planet view or view frame and whatnot look cool, like thanks to GoPro, right? Somebody jump off the plane. But those are not innovative. That's just using innovative tool to do a limited thing, not attached to that. Great creator, great stuff on that. But I just, for everybody else, at least keep immersive content try, at least keep this camera meant to be a try to see if you like it or not.
[00:44:27.385] Kent Bye: And finally, what do you each think is the ultimate potential of virtual reality, 360 video, immersive storytelling might be, and what it might be able to enable?
[00:44:37.371] Keeley Turner: Oh, I would say that once the form factor is smaller and smaller, with this new release at MetaConnect, we saw the MetaQuest 3, the form factor is getting smaller. You see the Ray-Bans coming out with all this crazy new tech. I think that when they combine the two, MetaQuest with the Ray-Bans, you'll see a major adaption happening. And we see that coming in with Apple. I think there's going to be a huge adaption there because with all the Apple accessories, you'll be able to utilize your accessories with your glasses as well. So I just see this VR space growing in the future. And if you look at the market share right now, it's just on a J curve. There's so much money in this space and it's only growing more and more every single year. So it's a really exciting time to become a creator in this space. You will stand out from the crowd and it's only going to grow more and more. So get in while it's hot.
[00:45:44.824] Hugh Hou: Yeah, I agree. Have an open mindset, learn new technology coming in the way, always researching. Immersive space is growing really fast. It's a good time to get in. Why not still early adapter? Most people are pioneer, but it's not going to last any longer. Like the first original YouTuber become YouTuber because they don't care about people laughing at them. They put themselves out. You just need to put yourself out as a storyteller.
[00:46:11.581] Kent Bye: Anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader Immersive community?
[00:46:15.368] Keeley Turner: Just create, have fun with it. Don't hold it too close to your chest and not release it. Share your stories, get the feedback, and then build something amazing and continue that cycle.
[00:46:28.998] Hugh Hou: Sam, if you have an idea, make it. Doesn't care about money, camera, or people think about that. It's just do stuff that make you feel good. Tell the story, see how people react, and then keep doing it. you need practice to get better. And the best way to do it is to start telling the story.
[00:46:48.273] Kent Bye: MARK MANDEL – Awesome. Well, definitely appreciate taking the time to unpack a little bit more of the journey and the broader ecosystem context. And you're really in the right place at the right time to be able to use your technology skills and storytelling skills to be able to travel around the world to all these exotic places to help capture them and to share these spaces with folks and to help connect to them with the stories that you're telling. So thanks again for taking the time to share a bit of your own story.
[00:47:12.172] Keeley Turner: Yeah, thank you so much, Kent, for reaching out and interviewing us today. It's so much fun.
[00:47:17.820] Hugh Hou: Yeah, thank you so much, and we had fun. I know it's a little bit rambling. We could not prepare, but hopefully it will actually give some value to your audience, and hopefully they will convert them to try at least immersive media.
[00:47:29.072] Kent Bye: for sure, and I highly recommend your YouTube channel with lots of different tutorial videos and all the different trade-offs that I'd mentioned. I think you've probably got a video of every iteration of new camera that's come out in the last nine or 10 years. So definitely covering the space really comprehensively, and appreciate that work, but also these other stories that you're telling as well. So yeah, think again.
[00:47:46.193] Hugh Hou: Thank you, yeah. Bye.
[00:47:49.314] Kent Bye: So thanks again for tuning in to one of my dozen episodes about MetaConnect. There's lots that I've been unpacking throughout the course of the series, and I'm going to invite folks over to patreon.com to be able to join in to support my work that I've been doing here as an independent journalist trying to sustain this work. Realistically, I need to be at around $4,000 a month to be at a level of financial stability. I'm at around 30% of that goal. So I'd love for folks to be able to join in, and I'm hoping to expand out different offerings and events over the next year, starting with more unpacking of my coverage from Venice Immersive, where I've just posted 34 different interviews from over 30 hours of coverage. And I've already given a talk this week unpacking a little bit more my ideas about experiential design and immersive storytelling. And yeah, I feel like there's a need for independent journalism and independent research and just the type of coverage that i'm able to do and if you're able to join in on the patreon five dollars a month it's a great level to be able to help support and sustain it but if you can afford more than 10 20 50 or even 100 a month are all great levels as well and will help me to continue to bring not only you this coverage but also the broader XR industry. I now have transcripts on all the different interviews on the podcast on Voices of VR and in the process of adding categories as well into 1,317 interviews now that have been published after this series has concluded. So yeah, join me over on Patreon and we can start to explore the many different potentialities of virtual and augmented and mixed reality at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.