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The tickets for such a trip can be, for now, obtained through the only available tool – virtual reality.

Let us join our two guides, gentlemen Laurin and Klement, for a tour of the period when our grandfathers and granduncles lived in times of relative harmony. Call the service and let them crank up the elegant ŠKODA L&K 110 for us (with a handle, of course) and embark on a charming journey around Hradčanské Square.

Take the L&K ŠKODA 110 on a drive through historic Prague:

 

But in order for such a ride to happen, we needed to create the executing concept. The next step was putting together a team consisting of the creative crew, actors, and assistants who helped to turn this vision into reality.

One of the most important moments, which laid groundwork for the whole project, was constructing a 3D model of the period car in order to insert it into a 360-degree video – our stage set with the plot, sound, and the driving route. The creators came up with their own technological solution that made these two principles click together so they could work in unison. Unsurprisingly, the preparatory works showed that this project was going to be no standard film making.

The first option was to create a 360-degree footage from inside of an actual moving car but that proved to be demanding in terms of production and finances and also impossible shooting-wise. To capture the ride from the car’s interior, with the “participant” seeing both the outside scenery and the car’s inside in focus, wasn’t possible even with the present-day camera technology.

 

Besides, such a ride could become an unpleasant, vertigo-inducing experience for the virtual reality viewer. Unlike this approach, the 3D car model settles the spectator into “reality” firmer than the 360-degree ride itself. The viewer needs some kind of foothold because the VR immersion can sometimes be confusing and a bit stomach-churning.

 

Although there were obstacles emerging continuously throughout the whole creative process, the authors retrospectively perceive their work as one big adventure. The terrain in question was rough so they needed to create their own shooting “runabout”, which was equipped with a stabilisation mechanism. The whole ride needed to be shot in one take, so a perfect coordination of all actors and assistants was needed. All were instructed on how to behave towards our “invisible” car in the field so their interactions with it look natural and real. Another obstacle was also in the mix – the impossible amount of regular traffic and tourists – so the shooting had to be done in a limited stretch of time between sunrise and 9 AM the latest. To create a perfect overall sensory experience, an ambisonic microphone was used during the ride. This special device collects all kinds of sounds from the surroundings so they can be incorporated into the footage via postproduction.
 

Petr Hranousek and Robin Pultera,
BRAINZ VR

 

“It was a spectacular challenge for all professions involved. Working with virtual reality makes you lose all footholds that you are used to in film making. There are many limits that need to be crossed, dealt with. For example, the shooting itself was very constricted by time and we only had so many attempts. One of them was even ruined by a solitary, ordinary raindrop,” commented the unique project’s authors, Robin Pultera and Petr Hanousek.

The end result is an 8-minute-long experience, set into a period ninety years ago. The L&K duo, which guides us through the opening sequence for a while, teaches us a few interesting facts to set the mood of the era. What follows after is the exclusive, 5-minute-long ride itself. Seat yourself comfortably, we’re setting out…

WE ASKED ROBIN AND PETR, THE VIDEO CREATORS
OF THE BRAINZ VR COMPANY, A FEW THINGS:

Robin Pultera

What did you perceive as the most challenging during the VR video preparation process?

The trickiest part was to combine classic filmmaking processes with the digital ones. Then we had to come up with our own technological solutions, for example, with a functioning camera buggy, equipped with a sophisticated stabilisation system. Another challenge was to get a suitable camera. The market offers quite the number of the 360-degree ones but our project required one with a 250-degree overlay and shorter span of transmission delay so we could get faster results and information about the composition and if it works. This phase also required us to play developers.

On the other hand, was there something that made your work significantly easier?

Certainly. It was the human factor. Literally each and every person of the team showed an incredible helpfulness and will to look for new ways. Concerning technology, the aforementioned camera almost fell into our laps. We were looking for a double-lensed one with all correct parameters and we discovered it with one company in Vienna, as an absolute novelty of theirs. It made all the postproduction work much faster and, above all, easier.

Petr Hanousek

Can anybody go on this kind of ride?
And how?

 

Theoretically, yes. First of all, we introduced the project to fair visitors in China and Frankfurt. Today, it’s accessible for downloading to all owners of the VR HTC Vive headset. It’s also available on YouTube as a 360-degree video, watchable on a computer or a smartphone, or alternatively at the new ŠKODA Heritage microsite.