In virtual reality on the red carpet

At the Berlinale, visitors to the Audi Lounge could drive themselves over the red carpet to a film premiere, with the aid of virtual reality glasses. ARRI produced this 360-degree experience together with the Fraunhofer HHI.

For the 67th Berlinale in February 2017, ARRI joined forces with the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut (HHI) in creating a unique virtual reality experience for Audi Germany. Visitors to the Audi Lounge at Potsdamer Platz could take a seat behind the wheel of an Audi Q7 and drive themselves past the crowds of fans on the red carpet at the Berlinale Palace and feel like a star at their own film premiere – in virtual reality, of course.

The Virtual Reality box in the Audi Lounge

ARRI's Media division produced a 360-degree film from the red carpet for this extraordinary project, using equipment from ARRI Rental, and then integrated it into a virtual reality application. The limited time available was a special challenge, with only 18 hours for the entire process, from the shoot to the finished product.

The high-definition 360-degree images were shot with an OmniCam-360, which was developed by Fraunhofer HHI and then optimized for the Berlinale together with ARRI's R&D department. The system comprises six cameras from the ARRI ALEXA Mini series, all arranged in a mirror frame in such a way that a 360-degree panorama results in a never-before-seen quality. Five cameras form a ring panorama, while the sixth shoots the crown angle. Also part of the system are a workstation that generates a livestream of the panorama in HD and UHD, and software plugins for After Effects®, with the aid of which the panorama is subsequently rendered in movie quality.

Based on the proven ARRIRAW recording format, this high-quality panorama is characterized by a native resolution up to 14K x 3K, High-Dynamic-Range imaging and full synchronicity of all the cameras.

In the research collaboration, ARRI and Fraunhofer HHI evaluate application scenarios in the field of film productions and virtual reality, using field tests. In doing so, they make further improvements to the system and lay the foundation for a joint business model.

The virtual drive across the red carpet of the Berlinale caused a furor, not only among the viewers in the Audi Lounge, but also among the people involved in the project. “We've accomplished something really astounding here,– an inspiring showcase project and milestone – with interdisciplinary collaboration,” enthused André Rittner, Key Account Manager Corporate Customers at ARRI Media. “That was more than just professionalism: it was passion.”

The virtual drive across the red carpet caused a furor, also among the people involved in the project

Pictures: Fraunhofer HHI (2), Getty for Audi (1), Benjamin Hettwer for Audi (1) and ARRI (1)