Greg Rattenborg / April 13, 2017

VR Lessons from the Greens: Capturing Torrey Pines with a GoPro Omni

Every year, Farmers Insurance pours substantial financial and creative energy into connecting with golf fans—primarily through its spokesperson Rickie Fowler and its PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open (FIO). It has done a lot of great work with each, but knew it could be doing more. So, in 2016, Farmers reached out to Wire Stone to uncover bigger, better ways to take advantage of these two premier activities.

The FIO is played on the scenic, ocean-side cliffs of the Torrey Pines golf course. It’s truly a majestic experience. But not all golf fans are able to make the trip to San Diego to take it all in, and watching it on television (via a broadcast Farmers has no creative control over) can’t compare to the real thing.

Meanwhile, Rickie Fowler is a living embodiment of the broader Farmers brand campaign: He knows from experience. The expert, insider knowledge Rickie has of every PGA Tour stop is the exact type of content golf fans around the world hunger for.

Those were the two parts of the equation necessary to create a more immersive, year-round experience for Farmers. The solution? 360 video. What better way to give fans an up close and personal tour of Torrey Pines? And who better to guide them through every bunker, every dogleg, and every blade of grass than golf pro Rickie Fowler?

We set out to create five unique 360 video experiences, each offering an all-encompassing look at a signature hole of the Torrey Pines course.

Wire Stone has been helping clients tell stories through video for over 15 years. But creating new kick-ass experiences puts you at risk for getting your ass kicked a time or two as you navigate creative and technical challenges. Here are a few things to watch out for if you’re diving into 360 video.

Steady the shot

Camera shake may speak truth in cinéma vérité, but in 360 films it speaks only to stitching headaches. Landscape shoots like Torrey Pines with its wide-open vistas are particularly susceptible to shifting horizons, which creates problems when stitching together the footage on the back end. Shake also impacts the viewer experience. In 360, quick camera movements and shifts in the horizon can be visually unsettling and nausea inducing. We got the steadiest shot possible by using a Kenyon Gyro Stabilizer.

Clear the set

Clearing the set in a traditional shoot means piling people and props out of site behind the camera. In a 360 shoot, there isn’t any hiding behind the lens or controlling the field of vision. Even the director must find a way to stay out of the way. Get your shots lined up and your plan in place, hit record, then clear the set. At Torrey Pines, this meant finding the nearest tree and trying hard not to peek.

Review on the fly

Traditionally, DPs and directors review footage throughout a shoot, making adjustments large and small along the way. That’s simply not possible with 360 video where stitching footage together takes both time and computational horsepower. What you can do on-site is review individual cameras to ensure each is firing properly, get a feel for the lighting, and confirm what was captured. But even this limited evaluation requires uploading footage or connecting to a computer. The true 360 experience can only be fully appraised post stitching.

Conclusion

It’s a new—and entirely panoramic—frontier out there. We’re excited to be part of it, helping clients like Farmers push their marketing activities toward higher levels of customer engagement.

Now, we invite you to join us for our 360 tour of the breathtaking Torrey Pines.

Greg Rattenborg is defining the future of customer experiences as Wire Stone’s chief creative officer.