We are pushing the bounds of documentary filmmaking by using VR360 in a radically different way!
The award-winning documentary filmmakers at Smock Media in Venice Beach, CA are raising $57,500 for a virtual reality project called PRIME OBSERVER®. Our goal is to build Camerasuits® for our team of zany photojournalist / documentarian / adventurers to capture full 360 degree footage of spectacular cultural and historical moments that place you INSIDE these events as we experience them.
Ever wanted to go back to relive Burning Man or Coachella? Wanted to know what it’s really like to be in the middle of a floor fight at a political convention? Wanted to stand between rival protest marches and form your own opinion of what happened? Wanted to surround yourself by all the glitz, glamour and glitterati at Fashion Week but couldn’t get on the red carpet? Prime Observers® Hawk, Ramblin’ Tom, Kalia, Ben, Dakota, Nathaniel, Andylee and Abba Austin will put you there.
Virtual reality is a whole new medium to record history. With over 150 years of combined documentary production experience we know where to place the camera to capture “the moment” but now we ourselves will become that camera inside that moment. Filmmaking will never be the same. Come step into the scene with us!
What We Need for the Project
Smock Media needs $57,500 to get project PRIME OBSERVER® off the ground. These funds will go to Camerasuit® development, production costs, post-production costs and distribution/marketing costs.
CAMERASUIT® DEVELOPMENT: We will use off-the-shelf technology to build three prototype camerasuits for our initial productions. Cost per prototype is estimated at $5,000 for a total of $15,000 needed. If we are not able to raise the full amount for multiple suits, we can still begin 360 productions with only one suit.
PRODUCTION COSTS: Our first production will deploy three Prime Observers®, one director and one production assistant for a total of five production crew. Estimated costs including travel are $2,500 per crew member for a total of $12,500 needed. This cost can be smaller if we only have one suit available for our initial production.
POST-PRODUCTION COSTS: The first PRIME OBSERVER® production, will require $5,000 of 360 degree virtual reality rendering for the raw footage as well as $5,000 of Editorial for a total of $10,000 needed.
DISTRIBUTION/MARKETING COSTS: We will distribute our documentaries via several smartphone and desktop apps based on existing 360 applications. Cost for a third party developer to build these apps for us is $10,000. In addition, our ideal starting digital marketing budget is $10,000 for a total of $20,000 needed. We can make do with a smaller marketing budget for our initial production marketing if we are unable to raise the full amount requested.
If we are able to raise more than our initial target goal of $57.5k, Smock Media will use any additional funds to make follow-on productions.
What You Get by Supporting this Project
Smock Media will produce gorgeous 3D, 360 degree virtual reality documentaries of significant cultural and historical events with Hollywood-quality editorial and production values. Our business model will provide freemium subscriber-based ad-free content in 10-production packages in order to generate revenue to sustain production. Free content will include some advertising.
We give a number of perks for $25-$100 contributors to this campaign:
- $1 contributors receive our heartfelt gratitude for your support :)
- $10 contributors receive our undying gratitude
- $25 contributors get any of our applications for free
- $50 contributors get any of our applications for free PLUS a 50 ad-free production subscription
- $100 contributors get any of our applications for free PLUS a lifetime ad-free production subscription
We give a number of perks for $500-$5000 sponsors of the project:
- $500 sponsors get any of our applications for free PLUS a lifetime ad-free production subscription PLUS a sponsor credit on our first production
- $1000 sponsors get all of the above PLUS a sponsor credit on all our productions
- $5000 sponsors get all of the above PLUS you get to participate in one of our productions as a PRIME OBSERVER wearing one of our Camerasuits®
The Impact of this Project
We believe that 360 degree 3D virtual reality will dramatically change the way people record and experience history. In many ways, the film industry is still very early in the process for adapting the technology to narrative presentation. Most production companies have not yet progressed beyond viewmaster or old timeykinetoscope style demonstrations of the technology. Smock Media’s approach will focus on realizing the full potential of virtual reality for placing the audience inside an experience. We are on the cusp of a major revolution in story-telling where we no longer will have endless filters between an event and the viewer. We believe this will lead to an entirely new archetype for a documentarian / journalist / activist / reporter / witness.
Our intent is to train a number of PRIME OBSERVERS – talented documentarians chasing primary experiences at the crossroads of history so that you the media consumer can be as close as possible to the actual action and so make up your own mind about what you are witnessing. To the best of their ability, our PRIME OBSERVERS will put themselves in the middle of the action but try to experience things from a neutral perspective while consciously directly participating in an unfolding event. In short, they will push the envelope of what it means to witness world events while respecting the boundaries of all parties involved in an event.
The Challenges We Face
While the virtual reality technology is actually quite mature and it is relatively cheap to produce videos, there are a number of questions that videographers must answer to create compelling productions. Among these are:
- How do we create a true narrative structure for 360 degree 3D virtual reality documentaries?
- How do we train PrimeObservers wearing our camerasuits to keep their body movements disciplined in order to overcome the static requirements of VR video capture?
- Can we produce compelling live-streaming experiences using this technology or will all productions require post-production work to make them worth viewing?
- How do we capture footage efficiently to frame the narrative of non-linear and multiple perspective experiences?
- How do we incorporate Hollywood editorial and production techniques and values into virtual reality productions?
- How do we best distribute productions so that our audience can fully enjoy and appreciate the experience of virtual reality productions?
- How do we monetize virtual reality documentaries in order to sustain continuing productions?
It will take a long time for the industry to fully develop and understand the answers to these questions and others, but Smock Media will be at the forefront as one of the first production companies to apply this technology to documentary film and photojournalism. We believe that our focus on making the cameraman a character within the narrative will be a profound change for the audience.
Other Ways You Can Help
As a contract production house, Smock Media focuses capital primarily on production for individual projects as they come through. This project is thus a departure from our standard approach and we appreciate all the help we can get whether you can help us with a financial contribution, a sponsorship or just getting the word out there about our campaign and what we are trying to accomplish.
Please pass the word to your friends about our PRIME OBSERVER® project. Indiegogo has some terrific tools that will help you make some noise about this campaign.
Thanks for taking a look!
~The Smock PRIME OBSERVER Project Team