Director: Amelia Hashemi
Producer: Helen Dulay
Production Company: Unit 9 Films
Agency: Red Consultancy
Client: EDF Energy

I was asked to be Director of Photography for this virtual reality shoot for EDF energy and their ‘Pretty Curious’ initiative which aims to encourage more girls to study Science Technology Engineering and Maths subjects.

D2 BTS-00303 copyPhoto: Claire C – Marine biologist

Story

The film, directed by Amelia Hashemi, was anchored by interviews with three female role models – an engineer, a marine scientist and a computer coder. By filming them in their dynamic work environments and by using the interactive medium that is virtual reality, we hoped to inspire the next generation of female technologists.

D3 Portrait-01110 copyPhoto: Claire M – Computer coder

Challenges

As always with VR there are the challenges of operating and synchronising a large number of cameras and managing the data workflow. With such complex rigs, you have to really plan ahead to ensure the the director’s vision can be realised without technical issues slowing things down or dominating the shoot.

D3 BTS-00782 copyPhoto: Roma – Structural Engineer

Also whilst we are shooting we are in constant discussion with the post-production supervisor, ensuring that they have everything they require from each setup to stitch the images together seamlessly in post without any holes and with consideration for CGI and the grade.

D2 BTS-00212 copyPhoto: Lewis and Mark launch the heavy lift drone

There were some location and logistical challenges too – firstly flying a heavy lift drone over the North Sea to catch sunrise over a field of wind turbines. Later we operated on a research vessel and also flew a smaller drone off the boat. High places also seemed to be a recurring theme with shots required from the top of one of the wind turbines and also from the top of the Shard building in central London.

D3 Landscape-00687 V2 thumbPhoto: The view from the Shard early doors

D3 BTS-00678 copyPhoto: Lewis and Zlatan prep the VR rig

D2 BTS-00387 copyPhoto: Cramped crew quarters in the research vessel

D2 BTS-00662 copyPhoto: Test flight of the small drone from the boat

D2 BTS-00392 copyPhoto: Rigging the front of the boat

Lighting interiors was tricky – there is no ‘camera side’, everything is visible, so unless the location is lit from above like a studio or with hidden fixtures, its available light all the way! For one of the office scenes we borrowed every practical fixture we could find from the co-working space to pump some light into the shot. For key scenes we were also able to bounce hidden LED fixtures off the ceiling to raise the levels for the not particularly sensitive cameras. Where I felt we needed extra light or shape on our interviewees, I was sometimes able to leave a light in shot if the post supervisor felt it could be ‘painted out’ easily and within time/budget constraints.