Director Brendan Gibbons Takes Comedy to the Next Level With Virtual Reality

Station Film Director Approached the 360 Degree Film Like a Play

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Virtual reality -- a seemingly limitless medium -- is more accessible than ever, but it's mostly been confined to high-octane, action-packed spots for cars or athletics companies. Now, with "Red Velvet," a dark comedy short from Station Film director Brendan Gibbons, that's all starting to change.

Mr. Gibbons, responsible for the muscly-guy-in-the-cow-costume Applegate Farms spots and the divisive SofyBe Fresh spot making headlines, told Creativity there's a lot of demand from brands who want to make commercials using virtual reality; after all, it's newly accessible on YouTube and with cheaper, mass-produced goggles. Station Film editor and vault manager Anthony Rescigno said the comedy film and other virtual reality projects in the works are creating buzz from marketers.

"There's a huge desire for content, so we're showing this is possible," Mr. Gibbons added. "Red Velvet" is something like a tester comedy VR film -- giving brands a taste of genres outside of what's been done.

Featuring trained improv actors, the three-minute film is about a job interview gone wrong. (An employee takes revenge on officemates with a tainted birthday cake containing a drug similar to bath salts.) There are a few audio cues -- a noise makes you turn your head to someone taking off his clothes; someone at the table beside you says, "now, look here" -- so the viewer's experience is somewhat guided. There were cues for the actors to deliver lines, too. In this way, Mr. Gibbons said, the project resembled a stage play in its setup. As with a stage, a 360 VR film requires the crew and director to remain hidden.

With "Silence of the Lambs" references and actors disrobing in virtual space, there's a lot going on in the film, which was shot in one take (it took about 20 rehearsals and seven takes) using an H3PRO7 from GoPro with seven Hero4 Black 4k Cameras. See the Behind the Scenes film for more on how it was done. Red Velvet is available to view on YouTube using Google Chrome on a desktop, on iOS devices using the YouTube app or Android devices via the YouTube app or Chrome.

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Aug 28, 2015
Station Film
Brendan Gibbons
Production Company:
Station Film
Executive Producer:
Stephen Orent
Executive Producer:
Michael Di Girolamo
Executive Producer:
Tom Rossano
Brent Bettes
Production Supervisor:
Alex McGlinchy
Director of Photography:
Joe DeSalvo
Technical Supervisor:
Andrew Wonder
Camera Assistant:
Joey Katz
Offline Editor / VFX Artist:
Zach Shukan
Online and Conform:
Anthony Rescigno
Sound Engineer/Mix:
Robin Shore
BTS Camera:
Pete Barr
Andi Cambridge
Gus Helbock
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