Interview: Joe Penna – MysteryGuitarMan

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Joe Penna, also known as MysteryGuitarMan, has kept himself at the forefront of video-making innovation ever since he first started his YouTube channel around 10 years ago. His newest creation sees him tackle the tricky task of 360-degree content with an interactive game using the immersive technology.

Tube Chum spoke to the popular YouTuber about VR and its potential to become a game-changer in online video.

In the interactive game uploaded to the Field Day channel, viewers are challenged to keep track of a blue ball in a ‘follow the cup’ style game. It can be played on YouTube desktop or through mobile by using a VR headset, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”This is life changing, this is going to change the media landscape for sure.”[/pullquote]

Speaking about the initial plan for the video, Joe told Tube Chum: “[Field Day] came to us with the idea saying ‘how about you do a 360-degree video? We think you guys are going to be able to blow something like that out of the water.’”

“They came to us with the idea and we pitched them on the sports theme to make it basketballrelated and to get these really incredible sportsman in to help us out.”

Ryan Morrison, Joe’s post-production expert, explained that filming with the new tech proved to be quite a big challenge.

He said: “We learned a lot about the production limitations of 360-degree video, you can’t set up lights in any particular place except directly above.”

“There were elements to the limitations of the cameras themselves where stitch-points might look bad if you’re closer than 5 feet from the camera, but also you look too far away if you’re more than 10, so we had to do some testing to find the sweet spot.”

Joe’s video shows the potential of 360-degree content

Speaking about the difficult filming process, he added: “The way it shoots is with a bunch of GoPros right next to each other and there are issues with that because eventually someone’s going to cross from one to another, so you’ve got a weird ghost thing and issues like that. For us, it’s about working within those limitations and making the best video we could.”

Joe admitted that he would definitely be interested in tackling a VR video again, adding: “As camera technology starts getting better and better, we’d love to try. The VR space is something that’s completely exploding right now, I get a call every week about a different company trying to work with us or yet another VR company that’s opening.”

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”36o-degree videos are going to become so much more immersive once I’m at a concert and I look left and can hear the trumpet player and can look right and hear the bass player.”[/pullquote]

Ryan agreed, adding: “As with any scientific exploration, not every single experiment is going to be a hit, but it may lead to more off-branching ideas. I think it’s very important that YouTube always stays at the forefront of new technological development for both production and for consumption of the content.”

There has been an argument among the tech community that VR is no more than a temporary fad, much like the burst in popularity that 3D content expereinced a few years ago, but Joe feels that VR is here to stay.

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Joe’s VR video challenges viewers to keep track of a blue ball.

“It’s a bit different to the 3D boom that happened a long time ago, this is a different media. It’s definitely a different type of storytelling, a different type of approach to creating the media. Whereas with the 3D fad, the craze happened a couple of years ago and quickly went away quickly because it really didn’t add much to the story.”

Joe added: “360-degree videos are going to become so much more immersive once I’m at a concert and I look left and can hear the trumpet player and can look right and hear the bass player.”

Speaking about the importance of YouTube staying ahead of the trends, Joe said: “YouTube has kept up, it moved onto 720p when it could, then 1080p, now it does 4K. We shoot a lot of 4k content and the only way for us to watch it is off the YouTube player. There’s a lot of really smart engineers at YouTube.”

“With VR, technology is just going to keep getting better and better. This is life changing, this is going to change the media landscape for sure.”

Do you think 36o-degree VR is the future of online video? Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us at @TubeChum.

Photo by Kevin Winter/SAs 2013/Getty Images (Streamy Awards)

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Daniel Mackrell

Co-editor at Tube Chum
Journalist. Former Winchester Student. Chelsea fan. @WINOL Alumnus. Co-editor, @TubeChum.