RAF creates its first 360º Immersive Experience using Mistika VR

Published On: March 8th, 2021

It’s not easy for the public to get up close to the Royal Airforce (RAF) aircraft and assets, but in its first use of creative immersive video, that’s exactly what RAF Media Reserves allowed anyone with a VR headset or smartphone to do.

“We were acutely aware of the need for an initial ‘wow!’ factor, so we set our first scene in the cavernous empty hold of an RAF C-17 transport aircraft. As RAF reservists, we’d both experienced a sense of awe the first time we walked up the ramp into the belly of one of these beasts,” explains director Tony Newton.

Although RAF Media Reserves is made up of media industry professionals with a huge wealth of experience in traditional filming and storytelling, this was their first 360º immersive project and a huge learning curve, said Paul Gale, DoP and editor – RAF Police 360 immersive experience. “Not being directly behind the camera was quite a challenge and something we had to adapt to by viewing the output on a tablet screen whilst hidden behind nearby greenery, vehicles or behind a huge aircraft,” he added.

Their vision was to create an experience where the viewer is fully immersed in scenes that they wouldn’t normally have access to – standing directly underneath a landing C-130 Hercules or at the centre of a road traffic incident at night.

Creating the immersive video on behalf of the RAF Police, the team spent several months of research into current 360 technology and eventually chose an ‘Insta360 Pro 2’ and ‘One R’ 360 cameras, a Zoom H3-VR ambisonic (3D audio) microphone and recorder and Mistika VR to stitch their footage.

“Some of the scenes were quite complex with a lot of moving parts – actors and vehicles. Having the tools available in Mistika VR such as Optical Flow and Edge Points were crucial in fine-tuning the stitch to get a good result. Optical Flow was particularly effective in the opening scene inside the huge C-17 transport aircraft that has a lot of fine detail in the aircraft’s exposed systems and cabling. The result was a seamless stitch that we could then take on to the edit and VFX stages,” added Gale.

To experience the cavernous cargo bay of a C-17, stand below the huge propellers of the A400M, experience an emergency incident response, see an RAF military working dog at work in an intelligence-led takedown and find yourself ‘face-to-face’ with a Hercules C-130 on short finals, visit:

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3dDoUTD

For Oculus VR headset users: https://ocul.us/3pPQPSJ

The team have also shared their technical and creative lessons on immersive filmmaking: