A rare behind the scenes from one of my recent VR shoots 💃.
One key thing still missing from the #360production workflow is live-previewing on set.
A ‘flatty director’ watches a monitor & sees the shot exactly as the audience will. That’s not easily done for VR filmmaking yet 🤯.
The best solution my team and I have come up with is recording a low-res rehearsal on the QooCam & previewing back in GearVR to set up the blocking of the scene.
Once we’re recording I’m blind to what the camera can see. I’m just watching from behind the lenses & if the take feels right, we then go through the painfully slow process of stitching to view in an Oculus Go. But we don’t always have time to do that before wrapping the shot & moving on.
I’ve heard you can now live-preview from OneX straight to a Vive Focus but I’m Oculus-based so haven’t had a chance to check this out.
I end up just trusting my instincts and 99% of the time it works out 🤓.
Crazy to be so early in this medium that these aspects of the workflow are still missing.
How do you deal with live-previewing on set 🤔? Until next time,
Hello old friends 👋! I’m 1 week away from finishing a couple of big VR projects then I’ll be back on the Instagram hustle.
Until then, I thought I’d put out a quick bite size business tip to have with your Saturday pint 😎.
Clients... scrap that, PEOPLE in general, want it all.
But just like my mum used to say when I wanted to eat the whole cheesecake “you can’t have it all!” 🤦♀️
In business there are 3 aspects that affect project scope: Quality, Price and Speed.
When negotiating just remember that the client can’t have all 3!
1️⃣ Do they want amazing quality but have a small budget? It’s going to take a long time to pull that off.
2️⃣ Do they want it quickly AND amazing quality? Open that wallet wide my friend because that budget just quadrupled to get more resource and talent on board.
3️⃣ Small budget but need it by the end of the week? Don’t expect premium quality.
Look at the projects you’ve been working on and see how it applies. Next time you’re negotiating with a client keep this in mind & make them aware of the trade off when they are working with a small budget and a tight deadline.
How do you go about managing client expectations around quality, time & budget?
Until next time,
One of the questions I get asked most often is:
Do I need a professional 360 camera to start making 360 films?
The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Just like you can shoot a feature film on an iPhone these days, you can get some amazing results using a consumer 360 camera.
My first piece of advice is always focus on the storytelling, what’s happening in front of the lens is often way more important than the tech you’re using.
But for arguments sake, let’s have a look at some of the differences:
With less lenses you’ve got a much quicker workflow with the smaller camera and you’ve only got one stitch line to worry about.
With more lenses comes more flexibility. You can adjust each lens to compensate for uneven lighting and in post-production you’ve got more room to play with the stitch to get a seamless image. More lenses also means more depth information so you can shoot 3D as well as 6DoF in the near future.
Bigger sensors and more of them on pro cameras means you’re going to have a sharper image and be able to shoot at much higher resolutions. But just remember not many devices can actually playback higher than 4K without running into issues.
If you expose correctly and get a really well-lit environment, you can get a really clean 4K image from most consumer cameras. Especially if you’re reframing your 360 content, you probably don’t need the 10k on offer by some professional setups.
The workflow takes a lot longer and is more fiddly on the pro cam but that makes it a lot more flexible and robust both on set and in post…
BUT you really can’t beat the convenience of a mobile workflow. Shooting something on set and being able to watch it back in a headset within a few minutes is hands down my favourite feature of using consumer cameras.
So you really don’t need $8k to start your career in 360. I did one of my first paying 360 gigs on a $200 Samsung Gear360 and it turned out great!
Take your time to understand the limitations of your camera and then get creating!
Until next time
What are you? A director? A producer? An entrepreneur? A boss? An artist? A techy? A creative? 🤔
If you’re anything like me you hate when people ask the dreaded question “what do you do?”
It’s such a loaded question. Charged with expectation.
But it seems a tad too millennial to retort “well… sometimes I direct, sometimes I produce. I’m a boss and an artist. Sometimes I’m a one-woman crew because noone will give me money for the art I’m driven to make to express the learnings of experiences I’ve had as a human in this world….. but sometimes I’m paid more than I use to earn in a month to basically sit in a room full of suits and be the creative expert.” 🧐
So I’m re-reading Start With Why by @simonsinek.
If you haven’t watched his @TED talk on the same subject, you need to go and do that right now. Seriously. Go now.
Simon’s why is the following:
“I imagine a world where the vast majority of people wake up every single morning inspired to go to work, feel safe when they’re there and return home fulfilled at the end of the day. And everything that I do - whether it’s writing, speaking, teaching - is devoted to help build that world.”
🎤👇 (…that’s a mic drop just to clarify)
I love this idea of defining why you’re doing what you’re doing instead of defining yourself by what you do.
I’m still figuring out what my why is. What do you guys think about Simon’s approach to business values? And for those of you who know your why, please share so I can be totally envious and inspired 😍?
Until next time
Business (...& life) is all about people. You can work on your creative craft but ultimately developing your interpersonal/relationship building skills first, will bring about so much better results - I promise!
On that note, here’s 3 tips to be a better 360 pro & to win more repeat clients:
1️⃣ Manage expectations
Don’t promise something you can’t deliver. Handhold your client through the process every time. Over communicate and make sure they’re aware of the things that impact cost/quality etc. Don’t let them chase you for updates on the project, have a schedule in place for milestones & if there are set backs tell them the problem WITH a solution already in place.
2️⃣ WIN / WIN
A project needs to be a win win for both people. They feel great because they’ve had a top notch experience working with you & also get a brilliant final product that is going to help their business. You feel great because you made them feel great! You also get paid to be creative & learn how to solve a new business, creative or technical challenge (because no 360 job ever goes 100% smoothly).
3️⃣ Be great to work with
Be passionate, be enthusiastic, be proactive & most importantly, be yourself. Remember you’re the 360 expert. Give them a reason to trust you’re going to do the best job & also love working with you.
I’m ❤️ loving ❤️ the fact you guys add your own tips in the comments because we can all learn from each other. So my question this week is:
How do you make sure you’re the best person to work with 🔥?
Until next time
“😱😱 NO ALEX, WHERE ARE THE *ICONIC* VR GLASSES?!?! YOUR IG FEED IS RUINED 😭😭”
...Said no one 😂 well maybe @benclaremont 😜
Hands up if you’re a perfectionist 🤚?Chances are if you’re working in the creative sector you’ve got some perfectionist tendencies which can actually be really detrimental to your progress.
Here’s why I‘m changing my IG content up & why you should reflect on your goals for this year TODAY:
We’re 2 months into 2019 & I‘ve been taking some time to reflect on
1️⃣ What I’ve been doing
2️⃣ Why I’ve been doing it
3️⃣ Plans going forward
So let’s look at my IG content (but you can apply this to anything you’ve been doing in business or life):
1️⃣ What: Despite a crazy work schedule, I’ve found a few hours every week to put out a post that I genuinely believe can help a lot of people working in 360 / VR.
2️⃣ Why: I really want to help YOU build a sustainable career so you can live your god damn best life like I am fortunate enough to do 💃🏻. By helping people make money with 360 / VR the overall industry can grow & prosper. And selfishly I ❤️ getting DMs from people saying I’m doing good for the world 🤷♀️.
3️⃣ Plans: The core of what I’ve been doing is sharing my experience & advice but I can feel myself falling into the perfectionist trap of ”it’s got to be on brand, it’s got to be THIS style so the feed is on point, it’s got to be THIS style of copy to keep it engaging.” Realistically I would probably be able to post more & help more people if I just let go of those perfectionist ideals & just put stuff out. So that’s what I’m going to do moving forward. *Trying* to put out more content that actually helps & not worry about whether it meets the beauty standards of IG culture 🙌.
“Done is better than perfect” - @petermckinnon
What have you been doing so far in 2019? Why? And what plans do you have going forward to keep you on the path to reach your goals?
And for my own selfish benefit moving forward with my content - How can I help you? Please comment or DM me 😍.
Until next time 🤓
Happy 2nd Birthday CATS are not PEAS, my pride & joy, my life’s work, my one true calling.
Instead of the usual well thought out business tips post today, I’m just going to ramble about the things I’ve learned from running my own company for 2 years full time (7 years in total - check out my Instagram Story for the CATS are not PEAS history lesson that no one asked for).
Ok here we go:
Say yes to everything.
Say hello to everyone at events.
When you find someone you vibe with at events, go deep rather than rushing off to say hello to another 15 people.
Be yourself, even if that means rocking up in scuffed trainers to a Fortune500 company.
Speak your truths, don’t try & tell people what they want to hear.
Remember people are just people.
If someone is a complete dick to work with, don’t work with them no matter how good they are at their job.
Trust your instincts.
ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.
Do what it takes to build a portfolio you’re proud of (for me that meant pouring every penny of my own money into making Keyed Alike & taking on jobs for little money & no credit to get the logos & referrals)
Forget what you thought you knew about everything.
Don’t be scared to change your mind.
Don’t sell the unsellable.
Doing the right thing is always the right thing.
Self-awareness is the key to life & especially business.
Take note of what you love doing the most.
Timeblock, for god sake timeblock - it will change your life!!
When you’re burned out, it’s ok to take your foot off the gas.
What’s the big picture?
Realise it’s not going to be a straight line to get to the big picture.
Keep saying yes to the opportunities that excite you & get you fired up.
Say no when it doesn’t feel right, even if the money is tempting.
Business isn’t a zero sum game.
Share your experience & advice with the world sooner.
Don’t feel guilty when you can’t do everything all at once.
Realise there’s no such thing as work/life balance when you want a 1% life.
Be intentional with your time.
Always stay kind & humble.
People first, always.
Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with me. Ax
The way you direct 360 is different depending on whether it’s experienced on mobile, in a dome or in a VR headset. For the sake of this post we’re talking about 360 in a VR headset.
We’re at the beginning of this new art form & it’s constantly evolving. But here’s some things I wish someone had told me the 1st time I shot 360 nearly 4 years ago.
Whether it’s for art or business, you need to ask the question: How do I want my viewer to feel when they experience this 😎?
When someone puts on a VR headset, they are transported. Who are they in this new world? Are they a character? A voyeur? Invisible? Seen? Even changing the height of your camera can have a drastic effect on how people experience your film so thinking through perspective will inform a lot of other creative decisions.
I like to say being a 360 director is similar to being a magician 🎩✨- the art of misdirection! You give the audience the illusion that they have free will to look anywhere but actually you’re using carefully blocked movement to guide them around the space. This makes editing easier because you have a good idea where someone will be looking before you cut to the next scene. You can also use choreography to play around with the idea of framing (creating the ‘new’ close-up or wide etc).
Location becomes a central character in any 360 film. Choosing a space that amplifies what you want someone to feel is crucial. For example, to make someone feel small, claustrophobic, tense - I’d choose a smaller location and put the camera closer to objects & walls to give them that sense of enclosure & being backed into a corner. Lighting is also a great way to transform the way someone feels about a space.
You’ll notice 360 is more like theatre than film so study up on theatre directing… or do what I did - go create & see what works!
“But Alex, what about sound?” YES sound is arguably the biggest way to direct attention in 360. But spatial audio done properly is out of most people’s budgets & requires such a specific skill set that I’m not going to touch on it today 🤓.
What are your directing tips for 360 video?
So you’ve got a potential customer excited about 360 / VR and then the inevitable happens…
“So how much does it cost?” 😐
Before you reply with “how long is a piece of string?” here’s 3 tips on pricing your services:
1️⃣ Pick a day rate & keep raising it until they say no
Because 360 & VR is so new, you are a specialist and therefore you can charge a higher day rate simply based on the law of supply and demand. So pick a number and then just keep raising your prices until they say no. When I first started I chose £350 p/d & every project I’d put it up until roughly 50% of people were saying it was too expensive… then I just negotiated. This is not only a really good way to gauge what your services are worth but also to determine who your ideal clients are 😬
2️⃣ Be a company not a person
When I set up my production studio CATS are not PEAS, I noticed clients attitudes and expectations of my services changed. It’s the peace of mind that you’re an established company with a team that works seamlessly together & there will always be someone accountable and will pick up the phone. I’ve found most production companies in the UK can charge between £600-800 a day per person. So it’s a nice pay rise but obviously comes with a lot more responsibility & client-management.
3️⃣ Sell tiered packages
When working with creative agencies/other production companies, you’ll have to charge a day rate because that’s the way it works. But when dealing directly with businesses, you’re selling value not time. First work out what problem 360 / VR is solving (check out my post “3 TIPS FOR SELLING 360 VR”) & how much it’s worth to the client e.g. 1 new house sale for a real estate agent is worth £5k so if your virtual tours bring in an extra 3 sales a year you’ll make them an extra £15k. Then pitch them 3 packages at different prices - 80% of people will go for the middle package just because that’s how our brains are wired - it’s weird but true!
I’ve had amazing feedback so far on these posts so please do keep reaching out or comment below & tell me - will you use some of these strategies going forward?
“VR is dead” screamed everyone… every year since Oculus released its first wave of headsets. But is it?
Absolutely not. There are more opportunities than ever to make a sustainable living creating immersive media. What is dead is the novelty of it!
Long gone are the huge budgets being thrown at big marketing pieces just for the sake of keeping up with the hot new marketing trends. Now 360 has to pull its weight and prove it’s actually a valuable tool. And so it should, we don’t want those novelty pitty pennies… ok I guess we wouldn’t mind a few 😅
So let’s look at the 4 types of people who are spending money on 360 & VR in 2019:
1️⃣ Creative agencies
More often than not, creative agencies are the gatekeepers to the big flashy projects with the well-known brands and bigger budgets. They are also tasked with finding the most creative, memorable and exciting ways to show off a brand - 360 fits the bill nicely!
2️⃣ Marketing managers
The benefit of working with an MM over an agency is you’re dealing directly with the person in-house with the budget. All companies are different but I generally find it’s best to approach MMs either at the start or towards the end of the tax year. This way they will either be planning the budget for next year or have some left over to spend on the present!
3️⃣ Learning & Development managers
Since VR has such an incredible application in training, Learning & Development managers are usually really receptive to hearing about new ways of innovating their processes. Just be mindful that in order to sell in an experimental project like VR, they do have a few more hoops to jump through than some of the others on this list.
4️⃣ Small/medium business owners
The benefits of going directly to the owner of a business is they have a much more entrepreneurial mindset. They’re not looking at “does it fit my budget” like many on this list, they are looking for the ROI - return on investment. If you can prove to a business owner that spending $5k with you is likely going to make them $15k back within a year, it’s a no brainer.
Let me know what other business-related tips would be useful.
Have a great weekend you fab lot.
Ask and you shall receive my friends. This is a quick tip post about generating leads by email including an example template to follow.
I’m now very grateful to be in a position where all of my clients come to me through word of mouth or through online channels. But when you’re just starting out, emailing your target customers is probably the easiest way to start to generate new business.
So let’s cut straight to it.
The big mistake people make on a ‘cold email’ is they make it all about them and their services. “I’m Jonny & I’m an amazing 360 photographer, hire me!!” The key is to make it all about the person you’re emailing and how your services can add value to their business and help them achieve more.
Here’s an example of how you might reach out to someone in real estate to start a conversation about 360 photography services:
I came across your real estate company DAVE’S HOUSES on Facebook. The photos you’re posting are incredible, really caught my eye!
You’re clearly really ahead of the game in the way you market yourselves and I wanted to reach out to see if you’d considered using 360 photography to generate more business through Facebook?
I’ve been working with businesses like yours that have received XX% more website traffic since posting 360 photos and Facebook themselves released some stats recently about 360 photos being X times more engaging than traditional posts.
Here’s a [relevant] example from my portfolio: www.(always use a trackable link so you can see if they opened it)
If there’s a convenient time to have a quick 10 minute call I’d love to discuss it further with you. Just let me know the best number to call you on.
Appreciate you’re busy so if I don’t hear from you, I’ll follow up again next week.
Thanks for your time.
360 Pro —
Obviously you don’t have to follow this word for word, but you can see what the basic structure is and how it relates to the points I’ve outlined in the graphic.
Make it about them > what their problem is > why 360 / VR solves that problem > why you’re the best person for the job. —
I really hope this helps, maybe give it a go for the next month and let me know how you get on?
3 Tips for Selling 360 / #VirtualReality Services
The key to selling anything is to pitch value. Here’s 3 ways that applies to 360 / VR:
1️⃣ GENERATE LEADS (MARKETING)
Businesses that have 360 photos on their Google Street View rank higher & receive an increase in website traffic/phone calls. According to research by Omnivirt, Facebook 360 photos & videos drive up to 1300% more mobile click through rates. What would an increased amount of exposure mean for your client’s business? Clue: $$$
2️⃣ CONVERT SALES
What do all businesses want? MORE PAYING CUSTOMERS!
We all know #VR ’s superpower is to transport someone - whether that’s to another physical place or into a specific situation or even into someone else’s shoes. 360 / VR can be powerful for businesses to convert more sales as their potential customers can get up close & personal with their product. For example, travel companies can take you to a holiday destination, car companies can give you a test drive - all from the comfort of your own sofa.
3️⃣ SAVE TIME & MONEY
A business is constantly trying to be more efficient with it’s resources aka time & money. Whether it’s safety inductions to a workplace, dangerous situation simulations or even leadership training, VR has much higher engagement & retention rates for learning compared to traditional training methods. Better training = happier / better skilled employees = better for company.
Remember, the key is that your client can easily see that the amount of money they spend on your services can achieve an ROI (return on investment). Comment below & let me know if you found this useful at all 🤣. What kind of clients are you going to go after?