First virtual reality feature film set in Baltimore

Akimibi Productions Creating First Feature Length Virtual Reality Movie

Virtual Reality (VR) is taking no prisoners in the coming years. 2016 will be very eventful with the release of several virtual reality headsets to the market. When people think virtual reality, we still tend to think video games. Companies creating the headsets, particularly Oculus, don’t want to limit themselves in this way. Between the video games and University Maryland of Baltimore County’s virtual-hybrid experience for science, the branching of the platform keeps expanding. Now, Baltimore City is the base for the creation of the very first feature length virtual reality film. Career Opportunities in Organized Crime is set to release in 2016, riding the wave of releases to create an exceptional virtual experience.

Akibimi Production’s Career Opportunities in Organized Crime will be a comedy based on the Russian Mafia. You will follow the storyline of Baltimore’s local Russian mob boss Vova, as they create an informative video about how to join the mafia. The film is currently in post-production and will be released in 2016.

In 2014, Facebook bought Oculus Rift at a staggering $2 billion. The acquisition being swift, Zuckerberg wants to build onto the next big platform after mobile. Facebook has already begun testing 360 degree video on the site, Career Opportunities in Organized Crime being one of the pages testing the concept during shooting. An interactive video can be found on their Facebook page. For desktop users, it will be a click and drag interaction while mobile users, of course, rotate with finger motion. This is done by using various GoPro cameras together that film several angles of view simultaneously.

Since VR is a brand new step in cinematic ventures, director Alex Oshmyansky hopes “to share what we learned with others.” Shooting in virtual reality opens doors to a much broader viewing experience, but this also opens doors to complications as well. When asked about the challenges faced when creating VR, Oshmyansky stated, “When filming in VR, everything around you is always in the shot. Nothing is hidden, which makes production design quite a challenge. That’s not even mentioning lighting and sound.” Giving the viewer optional focus can provide issues with keeping the viewer focused on the events occurring that are crucial to the storyline.

To keep the viewer focused on the storyline, Oshymyansky had to figure out the best way to guide the viewer to the story, while not undermining the virtual experience as whole. “We also had to find ways to direct the audience attention towards the story, and we kind of discovered those methods as we went. Camera positioning was really helpful. We found that placing the viewer in the middle of the action really helped focus attention. Actor blocking and set design could also be used to create elements that drove the focus of the viewer. In some ways, VR cinema has a lot of similarities to theater. The audience can look anywhere they want, so you are responsible for making the story interesting enough that they don’t want to turn away,” Ohmyansky elaborated. 

Film lovers will find joy in this new venture and be inspired keep innovating the platform, as we have seen through the history of cinema. Alex Oshmyansky has “loved film, from silent movies to hollywood blockbusters,” and will bring this love and care to creating the first virtual reality film of its kind. “Virtual reality promises to have the potential to tell cinematic stories in brand new ways, and I couldn’t help but want to be a part of exploring its potential.”


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