The VR and 360 video Academy

This programme is aimed at TV/film/digital producers, directors, DOPs, script writers, editors and animators who want to learn VR and 360 video production in-depth using Unity3D and the Oculus Rift/HTC Vive and Google cardboard HMDs. In workshops and one-on-one sessions they will explore interactive storytelling, VR and 360 video distribution possibilities, real-time cinema advantages of Unity3D with hands-on demonstrations of production work, 360 filming, digital asset creation and management for VR and 360 video production workflows over four days of hands-on training (including a visit to the Netherlands Film Academy to experience their VR pre-visualisation setup and VR production studio).

This programme is supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds.


Course structure and dates:

This course will be delivered both online and in workshops, and will be open to 42 participants in total. There will be 7 spaces for directors, 7 spaces for producers, 7 spaces for DOPs, 7 spaces for scriptwriters, 7 spaces for editors and 7 spaces for animators. Each of the groups will receive a mix of specialised training to accommodate the needs in their respective areas of work and training as a mixed group in the areas that concern all of them.

All participants will start their training by having a one-on-one training hour with their assigned tutor online (via Skype/FaceTime conferences) and/or in person (depending on location) before the workshops take place, in order to assess their skills and develop a personalised training plan before starting the first workshop. Emphasis will be given to their specific situation and any projects they might have in development or production, which are suitable to be enhanced by VR and/or 360 video.

Workshop day 1 for all participants: Transmedia storytelling in VR and 360 video

All participants take part in a daylong workshop on transmedia storytelling, focusing on the psychology of immersion and multi-sensory immersion techniques in VR and the distribution and monetisation possibilities that VR and 360 video harbour.

This workshop will be held on September 21st from 10.00 – 18.00 with a short lunch break at Lighthouse in Brighton, by our longstanding tutor Simon Wilkinson. Simon Wilkinson, who is working on a second version of his successful installation The Cube, an interactive Oculus Rift installation funded for the second time by the Arts Council England, will work with the group to look into current thinking regarding storytelling for virtual reality. This will include first person perspective narrative, transmedia storytelling, multi- sensory immersive techniques and relative distribution models and how they affect how stories can be told for VR.

Following this workshop day, all participants will have a total of five hours in one-on-one sessions with their respective tutors to work on enhancing their skills and furthering any projects they might have in development. These sessions will be scheduled in between the workshops to follow as needed. Participants will have a main tutor suited to their requirements, but they can have sessions with any of the tutors in the team as needed to aid their individual progress.

The following workshop days will be held for individual groups of participants during October and November 2016. The dates will be assigned during the interview process.

Workshop day 2 for directors, producers and scriptwriters: Unity and 360 video creation

The focus on these days will be to explore in-depth the real-time cinema advantages of Unity3D with hands-on real world demonstrations of work in progress, and participants building their own 360 environment in Unity3D (for digital asset managers), exploring 360 filming options and showcases, digital asset creation techniques and asset management for VR and 360 video. The training days are tailored to the participants (producers, script editors and digital asset managers will all focus on the issues relevant to their fields). We will also film and stream some of the session using the Theta 360 camera.

This training will take place in our Brighton studio on the dates assigned to each group, from 10.00 – 19.30 with a short lunch break. The tutors will be art director and mixed media artist Scott McPherson, filmmaker and motion graphics designer Tim Grabham and the Netherland Film Academy’s VR and real-time cinema course leader and developer Jilt Van Moorst.

Workshop days 2 & 4 for editors, animators and DOPs: Unity and 360 video creation

Group training covering hands-on training in the free industry standard 3D compositing engine Unity5 and the creation of 360 videos will resume over two workshop days for editors, animators and DOPs.

This training will take place in our Brighton studio on the dates assigned to each group, from 10.00 – 19.30 with a short lunch break. The tutors will be art director and mixed media artist Scott McPherson, filmmaker and motion graphics designer Tim Grabham and the Netherland Film Academy’s VR and real-time cinema course leader and developer Jilt Van Moorst.

The topics to be covered during the workshops (and the individual tutoring sessions) are:

  • Storytelling and narrative with interactive audiences in mind for 360 video and VR creation.
  • Introduction into the HTC Vive.
  • How to build a scene or companion piece from scratch for the Oculus Rift and VR using Unity5.
  • Using panoramic photographs as 360 backgrounds
  • Creating 360 content for Youtube
  • The real-time cinema advantages of Unity for effects, Pre-Visualisation and creative green-screening and shot creation in VR.
  • Hands-on demonstrations and walkthroughs of real-time techniques and its uses in film and broadcast.
  • 360 filming, editing workflows and software basics of VR in Unity versus 360 video and its various workflows.
  • 3D content, effects and particles in Unity for use in real-time cinema workflow and production.

Workshop day 3 for all participants (in mixed groups of 21 participants per day): Studio visit Netherlands Film Academy

All participants will visit the Netherlands Film Academy on 21st or 22nd October 2016, where they will experience the academy’s bespoke pre-vis setup using Unity3D, real-time motion capture and the HTC Vive, and will learn about the opportunities this harbours for their respective fields.

This visit is essential, as the real-world film and Unity3D pre-vis setup at the academy shows the innovative and cost-effective approach that Unity3D and HMDs brings to the fields of pre-visualisation, content creation and the creation of VR companion pieces.

We will supply a cash travel bursary of £170.00 incl. taxes per participant to cover a large part of their travel costs to Brighton and Amsterdam and to assist with childcare, if necessary. We expect them to make their own way to Amsterdam in such a way that permits them to be at the Netherlands Film Academy from 10.00 – 18.30 on the day of their visit. A short lunch break will be held on site.

Workshop day 4 for directors, producers and scriptwriters: VR & 360 video – distribution and marketing possibilities

This workshop day will take place on 4th November 2016 at Lighthouse in Brighton from 10.00 – 18.30 with a short lunch break, and is for directors, producers and scriptwriters. It covers the new territory of marketing and distribution possibilities for/using VR and 360 videos. The topics that will be explored include marketing for an existing film / TV project using VR experiences and 360 videos, the distribution of narrative VR pieces via steam and other possibilities, the distribution possibilities for 360 video as standalone film products, the added value that VR/360 video as companion pieces create and how to monetise these.

The day will be led by Iris McPherson, founder and director or filmtiki, who will draw on her years of experience as both film communications consultant and producer of film marketing solutions and more recently narrative VR experiences. Kirstin Winkler, producer of feature films such as 2012 and Anonymous, will give an outlook on where VR and 360 video fit in the wider film industry via Skype link from LA.

After all the workshops have concluded, participants will receive a further two hours of one-on-one training to cement the knowledge acquired over the workshop days during the last week of November and the first week of December. All sessions will finish on 2nd December 2016.

Who can apply:

We will train up to 42 participants: 7 directors, 7 producers, 7 DOPs, 7 scriptwriters, 7 editors and 7 animators. The course fee will be £125.00 excl. VAT. A travel bursary for the trip to Amsterdam of £110.00 and a travel/childcare bursary for attending the course in Brighton of £60.00 are available to all participants.

 How to apply:

Applications are now closed.

Main tutors – biographies:

Iris McPherson:

Iris is the founder and director of filmtiki. After finishing her MA in Media Studies and Public Relations at the University of Vienna she went on to work in the film industry in New Zealand on local as well as Hollywood productions, including acting as the Co-ordinator of the Wellington Fringe Film Festival. In 2007 she started working as a Digital Marketing Consultant, specialising in strategic consultancy for the film industry. Iris lives and works in Brighton, UK and is a visiting lecturer at Regent’s University London and at the University of Vienna, Austria. At filmtiki, Iris develops 360° communication strategies for clients, holds workshops and lectures, develops new courses on digital marketing and distribution and produces videos and multimedia installations. Her vision, her creative approach to utilising media and her knack for communicating with a varied audience make her a sought after speaker and project leader.years of experience as both film communications consultant and producer of film marketing solutions and more recently narrative VR experiences. Furthermore, Iris has worked as a trainer and consultant on Film London’s Audience on Demand programme, and has previously run several courses funded by Creative Skillset in 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Scott McPherson:

Scott McPherson established himself as amoeba in Glasgow in 1995, as an independent creative design studio. amoeba works with and for brands, agencies, broadcasters, publishers, record labels and TV production companies, specialising in creatively led design, direction and consultation for projects in print, branding, broadcast, multimedia and audio-visual installations. Scott also teaches new design technologies at artists workshops and festivals in Russia and Europe.

Jilt Van Moorst:

Jilt is a creative developer with 16 years of experience developing interactive installations, games, applications and educational software. His portfolio includes: Application development,
Interactive installations,
Online games,
Facebook apps,
Web development, 
iPhone/iPad apps and games,
3D interactive walkthroughs,
Lectures / Workshops and
 Motion Graphics
Event Visuals. Jilt teaches part-time at the Amsterdam Film Akademie and regularly holds New Design Technology courses at INSEEC London. Together with amoeba and filmtiki he developed a Facebook app for the Roland Emmerich feature film Anonymous.

Simon Wilkinson:

Simon is a Brighton-based filmmaker and transmedia artist who has been working for over 16 years in film education and performance. Together with business partner Paul Dutnall he also runs the multi-award winning youth and community film production and screening company Junk TV. Junk TV has done workshops and training programmes for young people and communities since 2000, encouraging them to tell their own stories. Simon is specialising in innovative storytelling and transmedia performances using new technologies and is currently working on his own AV narrative installations. Following the success of his previous installation at The Brighton Digital Festival, “The sound of the wind in the trees”, his current installation created with our tutors Jilt van Moorst and Scott McPherson, “The Cube”, has been performed and featured in workshops and festivals in Turkey, Armenia, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Venuzuela.

Tim Grabham:

Tim Grabham is a film director and creative animator, cinemtographer, and motion graphics director/designer. He has been working with Scott McPherson/amoeba on a variety of work for MTV, Channel4 and a long list of corporate clients like Adidas, Red Bull and Nike. Tim has also directed, shot and edited two award winning documentaries: “Kanzeon” and “The Creeping Garden”. As a sought after university lecturer, he has been teaching post production techniques to undergraduate and graduate students at UK and international universities, and he has mentored several young professionals on their road to full-time employment.




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