Reel FX Takes Us on Virtual SkyDive to Support Veterans

[VIDEO]

Reel FX

VIDEO CAMPAIGN RAISES AWARENESS FOR VETERAN PROGRAM


Stephen Valyou and Todd Love don’t let anything hold them back.

In 2007, a sniper shot Valyou while he was serving in Iraq leaving the Army veteran paralyzed from the waist down.

Love, a Marine Corps veteran, lost his legs and left arm when he triggered an improvised explosive device during a 2010 tour in Afghanistan.

But, in May, Valyou and Love leapt off an airplane thousands of feet in the air.

Millions relived the jump with them a few weeks later as the climax of a social media video campaign commissioned by GMC and produced by Dallas-based Reel FX.

“You can do something that I might never be able to do, but that’s a two-way street.”
Todd Love

“When I’m in the sky flying with my friends, we’re all kinda equals. Gravity treats us all the same,” Love says in one of the videos. “… You can do something that I might never be able to do, but that’s a two-way street.”

The series of six videos, including a one minute and 30 second virtual reality clip, was made to support  severely injured veterans waiting on houses with adaptive technology from Building for America’s Bravest, a program of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

GMC plans to raise $2 million for the veteran program by the end of 2016. To raise awarness, the automaker invited its social media followers to take a virtual skydive on May 21 through a 360-degree video experience, introduced by actor Josh Duhamel. 

“They wanted to do something that was going to catch people’s attention. To show that these guys do have disabilities, but they are still able to be on the same plane as everyone else.”
Elliot Dillman

“They wanted to do something that was going to catch people’s attention. To show that these guys do have disabilities, but they are still able to be on the same plane as everyone else,” said Reel FX commercial director Elliot Dillman.

REAL FX HELPS BUILD THE EXPERIENCE

GMC is just one example of a slew of companies embracing VR for advertising. Apps designed for BMW AG and Volvo AB simulate what it’s like to drive their vehicles. The Discovery Channel recently employed Dallas-based technology startup Aireal to create an augmented reality experience accompanying its popular Shark Week programming.

“People no longer want to be just sold something. They want to experience content,” Reel FX’s director of marketing/PR Katherine Harper said.

VR has the unique ability to get people emotionally engaged in content, said Reel FX Executive Producer of VR Taylor Williams. 

“They feel like they affected what they are watching instead of merely consuming the content,” Williams said. “It’s a subtle difference, but it’s a critical difference.”

Reel FX launched its virtual reality division in 2014. It has worked on VR experiences for films such as the Hunger Games series and Reel FX’s The Book of Life as well as for brands such as Frito-Lay, American Express, and Porsche.

Last year, Reel FX partnered with Dallas-based AT&T’s (NYSE: T) “It Can Wait” campaign, to show users the effects of distracted driving.

About 35 people in Reel FX’s commercial and virtual reality divisions teamed up for the recent GMC piece promoting Building for America’s Bravest.

To help create that immersive experience, Dillman first wanted to make sure the viewer could get a feel for the velocity of sky diving.

“That’s why we brought in the smoke stream because with that it gives you spatial awareness —something to judge the fact that you are falling so fast,” Dillman said.

Currently, there’s not a camera that can shoot a 360-degree frame all at once. So, they must come up with creative solutions to adapt technology that is available, Williams said.

“You are throwing out the rule book that’s been written over the last 100 years [in filmmaking]. Completely finding new ways to do things.”
Taylor Williams 

“You are throwing out the rule book that’s been written over the last 100 years [in filmmaking]. Completely finding new ways to do things,” Williams said.

About 36 customized GoPro cameras captured scenes both on the ground and in the air over a series of four separate skydives. An aerial cinematographer and one of the skydiving instructors strapped camera clusters on their heads to give viewers that first-person 360-degree perspective of the jump, Dillman said.

The multiple camera feeds were then pieced together in post-production. 

“Instead of thinking of looking one direction, you are looking all around and giving that viewer the option to look wherever they want,” Dillman said.  “It’s definitely a different way to think about filmmaking.”

To date, the 360-degree video has garnered more than eight million views on GMC’s Facebook page.

Take a look at the video titled, “GMC #enlistme 360 Skydive,” below and to get the 360-degree experience, view the video on GMC’s Facebook page.

Below, you’ll also find a video featuring Reel FX professionals talking about VR. Other videos in the #enlistme campaign can be viewed on GMC’s YouTube channel.


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