How did you get into VR?
– It all started for me when I first put on the Oculus Rift VR goggle. I was working, with co-founder Justin, at a video production company specialized in the extreme sports industry. Cinematography and storytelling have always been passions of mine, being the reason I worked with film for so long. When I experienced virtual reality for the first time, there was not a single shred of doubt in my mind that this would be the medium of the future. Justin was there too, and afterwards it seemed as if there was no discussion; we were going to start a VR production company. I think the difference between Scopic and other VR video production companies are the beliefs behind the company. Besides commercial clients, Scopic indulges in many ‘passion projects’ and cultural, creative, and even journalistic endeavors. We originated from the extreme sport film industry, so in VR we decided to continue this creative, exuberant way of filmmaking. I think generally that both Justin and me are creative, innovative people that loved pushing boundaries in traditional film, and therefore decided to take it to the next level: what is more challenging than pushing boundaries of a completely new medium, with seemingly inexhaustible possibilities? VR, for us, combines visual art, music, innovative technology, esthetic beauty, and incredible stories.
What would you say is your expertise?
– That is difficult to answer. We have the most experience in the extreme sports and music industry. We’ve filmed Tomorrowland, and followed Hardwell during the Miami Music Week and Ultra Festival. Also, we filmed wingsuit flyers, BMX-ers, kitesurfer world champion Youri Zoon, the Feyenoord – Ajax derby, women’s rugby, etc. However, we have also been approached by brands and larger corporations for activations and promos, so we are always expanding our horizon! I think in general, our core expertise really is VR storytelling and our dedicated way of editing. We made it our specialty to understand the client’s needs in order to deliver the best product. We are also very adaptive, and following the world of VR closely; we want to be and stay frontrunners in the business!
Can you describe your company culture?
– I would say idealistic, creative, and innovative. All the people working at Scopic have input and ideas, and we are always trying to incorporate these into our productions. As mentioned, we do crazy stuff. We push limits. We tell stories in virtual reality. So yes, every Scopic employee is a little weird in a out-of-the-box kind of way. In terms of business, we are balancing passion projects with commercial projects. While we were shooting a recruitment video for accountancy-giant EY, we were also filming arriving Syrian refugees on the shores of Lesbos. It is this contrast that makes Scopic a unique place to work, and to collaborate with.
What can I as a customer expect when working with you guys?
– As a young, creative start-up, we believe in communication and feeling. We truly believe that sky is the limit, so we dare clients to get as crazy as possible. When you want a production done by us, be ready to be pushed to the limits of your imagination. We always find it important to meet face-to-face, whether this means a physical meeting or a call. Every project is personal, and we want to tailor-make the production. VR is storytelling, so in order to tell your story in a correct way, we want to meet the people behind the project. I think this is partly due to our background: pushing limits. You want aerial shots from drones? Sure. You want to use a helicopter? Why not! You want to climb to the highest mountains? Let’s do it. You want to create 3D models to illustrate your product? Go for it. You want to film underwater? Let’s buy a diving suit.
We want customers to go wild, and we will try to meet their finest expectations. After these conversations, we will create a moodboard to illustrate our thoughts and ideas. Accordingly, customers can really see what they will receive as end-product. We also carefully educate them about the use, the different platforms, the hardware, and so on. We are always looking for friends and partners in our costumers, because only together we can ensure the future of virtual reality. We also have a close partnership with Samsung, so we can order Gear VR’s, with Galaxy’s included, for a reasonable price if the client requires. When they agree with our concept, we will send our quotation. When they give us a final ‘go’, we will start the production. It is important to keep your clients up-to-date, and guide them to the process.
Can your studio handle campaign volume production?
– Most definitely. At Scopic we find it important to deliver the entire package: pre-production, production, and post-production. We also have in-house 3D developers, app developers, drone pilots, and we work together with some of the best immersive audio guys in the business. We are also very experimental in terms of tech development. We try to be frontrunners in the world of VR so we invest a lot of time in R&D too. In that way, we can handle any challenges in the future.
Can you show me something you’ve done, that you’re extra proud of?
– Well, we thought that the footage we shot of refugees in Lebanon, and arriving in Greece, were a huge step into a new kind of journalism. VR journalism. When looking at certain footage in 360, you simply cannot look away. We also shot the 2015 Volvo Ocean Race, and accompanied the all-women sailing team of SCA in their heroic endeavours. We followed their adventures all over the world and shot it in virtual reality, allowing spectators to feel their endurance during these tough races. For EY we travelled all the way to Ghana, to illustrate EY’s corporate social responsibility endeavors. We climbed the Zügspitze in Germany, and flew a helicopter over Tomorrowland Festival. We are also currently working on our own project called ‘WINGS’, and we already shot some amazing footage of pioneers flying in wingsuits. In sum, we are proud of a lot of our work, and we would hope to keep it that way!
What area, geographically speaking, are you available to work in? Where will travel expenses be required?
– We will fly everywhere, anytime. Travel expenses of course will always be taken into account. Normally, the client will know this when booking a foreign filmmaking company! When clients see our portfolio, they will realize the value of best-practice and consider hiring a foreign production firm due to certain expertise.
Do you offer any satisfaction guarantee?
– Not specifically, but we will work on the project for as long as it takes. Any project is a collaboration with the client. From an early stadium, we aim for transparency, good communication, and clear briefings. For us, customer satisfaction is our evident number one priority.
Do you offer revisions of completed work?
– Yes. And not only that; we can also make different edits for different purposes. Some clients want to use the footage for another event, or for another purpose. We can than use the same footage but create a different film.
Can you give some examples of what you can do for a small company with limited resouces?
– As mentioned, we balance carefully between ‘normal’ projects and passion projects. If we love the idea, the passion, the beliefs behind a project, we can come to terms with the client. We often offer discounts for people we admire. Of course, this has to be within reason. Sometimes we can even do a project for free, if it doesn’t take us months in post-production. For example, we are now creating a concept for an up-and-coming Dutch rockband. They have almost no budget, but the energy of these guys is so great that we felt that we needed to help them achieve their goal. So will probably make a simple, but amazing, VR video for them to use as promotional material.
I own an insurance company and we would like to promote our life insurance. What sort of VR experience would you suggest for me? Money is not an issue. Go crazy.
– Ok so this is where we can really illustrate the explanatory power of the VR medium. Through virtual reality we can make a ‘boring’, if I may call it that, industry look more sexy, by combining it with a modern technology. Also, the world of insurance can be vague, non-transparent, and difficult to comprehend.
First, we would create a story that would go ‘beyond’ life insurances. We will create a case. A case in which a potential viewer can identify him/herself with. Through this case, we will demonstrate the possibilities of said life insurance company. This should not only be an informative video, but more like an informative experience. You can power explanatory elements by using state-of-the-art 3D animations. We do this in-house. And interactive parts, choose your premiums, for example, and its consequences. We would also use immersive audio design to submerge the viewer, and guide them through the movie.
For example, when we were asked to make a recruitment film for EY, we looked beyond their core business. We travelled to Ghana, and followed an EY-sponsored boat on the Volvo Ocean Race. We love to tell stories, and we will dig deep to find the most incredible ways to tell them.
I’ve been living in a cave the last few years and just got back to work at the marketing department, can you explain to me why I should invest in a VR marketing campaign?
– Remember how person-to-person sales were the only means to promote a product or idea to a client? VR brings this type of story-telling back to the commercial market. Your sales pitch becomes an immersive experience, where the viewer is placed in the centre of attention. The marketeer can design a world according to their wishes, and the customer will feel as if the experience is tailor-made according to their preferences too. We can once again reach target audiences by telling qualitative stories in an innovative way since the first time since the television and the internet. Add features such as 3D animating and immersive audio, and you will have the marketing tool of the future.
If you were to speculate freely. What sort of VR promotion do you think we will see in the future?
– At Scopic we already try to look beyond marketing. Sure, VR is going to be huge for companies, brands, corporations, and so on, and we love working in this field, but besides these aspects we are trying to look for VR adaptations that go beyond the commercial. For example, we did a project with the VU University in Amsterdam that was designed to help people who are afraid of heights. We shot different scenarios in 3D, making sure that whoever wore the goggle really felt the different heights. From here, VU scientists could monitor behavior of people that took part in the research. Another great adaptation for VR is training videos. We are currently working together on a project with the Amsterdam city police department, where we are developing training videos for young officers in how to deal with certain situations. The beauty of VR is that you can create life-like situations and contexts, unlike any other contemporary medium.
VR is a no doubt powerful tool that and the industry is young. What would you say are the risks and pitfalls with VR marketing?
– As it is now, there aren’t many risks and pitfalls in my opinion. The only obstacle at this very moment is the lack of VR goggle options in terms of customer retail. I have no doubt that within a few years, VR goggles are as likely to be found in living room as a tablet or a PC. The VR videos obviously are best watched from a VR goggle like the Oculus Rift or Gear VR, but you have to realize that your potential clients may not have such devices. Sure, you can watch it on the computer or tablet, but maybe you will lose some of the ‘wow’ factors you anticipated on creating. So don’t waste creativity on productions that are unable to be watched in all its glory! Sometimes, especially when you expect people to watch it on contemporary outlets such as YouTube or Facebook, it might be best to keep VR films more simple.
How big can VR marketing get and what will it take for it to get there?
– For VR marketing, just like every other aspect within VR, the sky is the limit. At Scopic, we truly believe this. What we need is the full attention of the tech world and its leading developers to create competitive hard- and software. We need to have VR goggles for customer retail with sharp prizes, so that anyone can indulge in the wondrous world of VR.
How would you define a successful VR marketing experience?
– At Scopic, we believe that the ‘wow’ factor alone is not enough. Because soon you will see that everyone tried VR, and people get used to new technology quite fast. So don’t underestimate your clients! Simply using VR is not enough, you still need to work together with creative agencies to build compelling campaigns. We should start treating the VR branch as a legitimate part of the film industry where we desire the highest quality, the best stories, amazing audio, and overall thrilling experiences.
What is it about VR that gets you excited?
We live and work in the future every single day; how awesome is that?