Bringing VR ballet to life
Once again, this project enabled Clive to add an entirely new set of skills to his repertoire. Unfamiliar with VR, he spent six months working with the team at Canon, learning everything he needed to create the film.
"It's one thing getting the lens and the camera, but then you have to build the rig around it, which took months. Then we got the beta 60fps EOS VR Utility software [compatible with high quality RAW files]," he says. "There is no point in shooting ballet in anything under 60fps, because the whole point of virtual reality is that you want it to fool the human brain. The software is incredibly clever – we couldn't have done anything without it."
When it comes to shooting in VR, there is no better camera for the job than the EOS R5 C, says Clive. "There aren't many cameras that can shoot 12-bit 8K Cinema RAW Light at 60fps for 50 minutes non-stop," he says. "That camera is absolutely faultless."
There were challenges for Regan, who had to adapt her dancing style for the shoot. "I used more front and back movements than side to side, because you can capture a wider range of motion," she explains. "The biggest thing was making sure that I used my front and back as much as I possibly could, so that the depth of the movement would travel in a really impactful way."
Immersive sound was also important to Clive, who used an Ambisonic microphone, made up of four directional mics to create what he describes as a "bubble of sound" (spatial audio). "Ambisonic audio creates a sound bubble around the camera – it's a visceral experience, as it locks the sound to the picture," he adds. "That's really important to learn."
Tom Rogers, creative digital producer at Birmingham Royal Ballet, has worked closely with Clive in the past. "There's a magic backstage in the wings and on stage that is really hard to replicate with conventional film," he explains. "I think through virtual reality we've managed to capture the essence of that intimacy and that magic."