Aliens & Explosions in Google & The Mill's Incredible New VR Experience
The Mill has collaborated with Google ATAP, Bullitt Production and director Justin Lin to co-create ‘HELP, the latest installment in the Google Spotlight Stories. ‘HELP’ is their first immersive, live action film made uniquely for mobile. Starting today, ‘HELP” will be available for free with the new Google Spotlight Stories app on Android and iOS via the Google Play and App Store.
Google’s Spotlight Series was launched in October 2013 as new storytelling platform for the mobile audience. ‘HELP’ is the fourth story in the series, and is a classic tale of explosions, aliens, heroines and heroes; the difference is the phone holds the story allowing the audience to hold a window to look anywhere, set the pace and frame the shot.
Google Spotlight Stories has created a new mobile format for storytelling that pushes what’s possible technically and creatively, by engineers and artists.
In the context of recent immersive or Virtual Reality (VR) productions, ‘HELP’ is groundbreaking in that it combines live action and Computer Graphics in a 360 environment, creating an action-driven story deploying cinematic quality visual effects.
The Mill was involved in every aspect of ‘HELP’, collaborating from the planning stage to assist Justin Lin and the team at Google ATAP in realizing their ambitious, cinematic vision. A major challenge that The Mill helped solve, was the lack of a camera rig equipped with multiple cameras (built in a full 360 degree array) and able to follow the action in the way the director required.
After numerous tests, experimentation and R&D, The Mill developed ‘Mill Stitch’ (TM pending), a proprietary software solution that takes images from multiple cameras and then ‘stitches' the output into a continuous 360 degree view. This ‘on-set’ solution provided the director and director of photography with the unique ability to dynamically move the camera to follow the high-intensity action that is the dramatic hallmark of ‘HELP’. During post-production, a more refined version of ‘Mill Stitch’ was used in tandem with several other proprietary Mill software tools to rebuild a seamless drama combining live action and vast CG environments.
Alongside the new pipeline and desktop tools, The Mill created an app that allowed for daily viewing on a tablet so Justin and the Google ATAP team could review the film.
The Mill’s CEO Robin Shenfield explains: “Collaborating with Google’s ATAP team of experts and with such an acclaimed live action director as Justin Lin allowed The Mill to flex its creative and technical muscles to solve new and complex challenges.
“It’s been, to say the least, a colossal learning experience and given us very valuable insight into the technical and creative challenges involved with new immersive and VR film-making. It’s a perfect fit for us to be at the epicenter of a new format and pioneering a new way of telling stories.”
Full Creative Credits
VFX & Design
VFX & Design: The Mill
Exec Producer: Sue Troyan, Reece Ewing
Producer: Leighton Greer, Alexandra Paton
Shoot Supervisor: Gawain Liddiard, Daniel Thuresson, Tawfeeq Martin
Creative Director: Gawain Liddiard
Technical Innovations Manager: Tawfeeq Martin
Senior Research & Development : James Studdart
Research & Development: Timothy Wernette, Andry Jong
2D Lead Artists: Daniel Thuresson
3D Lead: Gawain Liddiard, Dan Moore, Elizabeth Mitchell
Animation Lead: Jacob Bergman
Lighting & Rendering Lead: Sean Durnan
FX Lead: Ashraf Ghoniem
Asset Lead: Krystal Sae Eua
2D Artists: Ashley Forbito, Ben Smith, Dag Ivarsoy, Daniel Lang, Don Kim, Elliott Brennan, Greg VanZyl, Jason Bergman, Kevin Flores, Jake Albers, Lisa Ryan, Mike Ek, Patrick Heinen, Sam Evenson, Timothy Crabtree
3D Artists: Aldrich Torres, Craig Halperin, Jonah Austin, Katie Yoon, Michael Rogers, Steve Blakey, Tyler Mele, Brittany Drew, Berk Hakguder, Blake Guest, Brett Angelillils, Bridget Warrington, Chris Bayol, Chris Goodrich, Danny Yoon, Darren Sumich, Dustin Colson, Fabian Elmers, Hartwell Durfor, James Ma, Jason Jansky, Jesse Flores, Juan Zavala, Katie Yancey, Kelvin Liang, Majid Esmaeili, Martin Rivera, Matt Bohnert, Mike Di Nocco, Milton Ramirez, Phil Mayer, Rasha Shalaby, Sharlene Lin, Yorie Kumalasari, Mario Afu Hassan, Jeffrey Lee, James Mullholland, Sergio Xisto, Stephen New, Filippo Forno, Quentin Sauvinet, Charlotte Akehurst
Matte Painting: Itai Muller, Gillian George, Timmons Sung, Michael Sheffels
Art Department: Brett Lopinsky, Clare Carrellas
Production Coordinator: David Lawrence
Colour: The Mill
Colourist: Gregory Reese
Production Company: Bullitt
Director: Justin Lin
Exec Producer: Todd Makurath
Producer: Diane Castrup
Director of Photography: Claudio Miranda, Phedon Papamichael
COO/CFO YomYomF: Sal Gatdula
Creative Director: Philip Chung
VFX Supervisor: Alex Vegh
Production Supervisor: Taylor Steadman
Asst. Production Supervisor: Michael Cheng
1st AD: Kirk Rogers
2nd AD: Jeb Barrows
Camera Rig Development
Company: Practical Magic
Producer: Matt Lewis
Engineer: Bob Bristow
Production Coordinator: Whitney Rowlett Senn
Genre: Action , Visual VFX