With the help of a grant, 48 interconnected DSLR cameras, and some long hours of editing, Ryan Enn Hughes produced a pair of videos that combine thousands of still photographs into a 360-degree look at ballet and “Krump” dancers. Check out the results and the behind-the-scenes production video below. We corresponded with Hughes via email to find out a bit more about the project, and how and why it was made.
PDN: What interested you in creating these 360-degree videos?
Ryan Enn Hughes: The 360 Project stems from a proposal I wrote and received for a Chalmers Arts Fellowship—a funding body in Canada that supports extraordinary research and creation projects in the Arts. My proposal was to “explore the structural elements of the moving image,” which is in its essence the still photograph. My background is in Film Production/Cinematography —it wasn’t until late in University that I immersed myself in Photography. Over the last few years, more than ever, Motion Pictures and Photography have started to cross-pollinate—digital capture, digital software, and digital presentation methods in both media make the integration of the two fields seamless. Coming from a film background, I’ve always had a desire to push the still image further. The 360 Project is where I ended up.
Working with dancers is something I’ve been doing for a few years now (RGB Move, Ballet!, C-Walk, etc). I’ve always been taken by the concept of capturing a “peak moment of action,” and dance really lends itself to that concept. The way I view the project is like this: it is constructed of still photographs that when assembled like a flip-book create a motion picture, which end up resembling a type of rotating digital statue, which we in turn edited together.
PDN: Can you give me a rundown of the equipment you used?
REH: The gear used was 48 Nikon D700’s, 4 Broncolor Pulso G 3200J Lamp Heads, 4 Scoro A4S Packs.
PDN: How long did you spend editing the project?
REH: Post-production was a very big undertaking. There were several steps necessary to get to the end product. Before we could get into any actual editing, each frame in every 48-frame set had to be Photoshopped—painting out all the cameras that were visible in the original captures was a time consuming process, but enabled us to have greater control over the images. The editing process and sound design (Zelig Sound) was undertaken at the same time—it was a back and forth process exploring various editing techniques and sound design elements. Fortunately this project was not on a hard deadline, and our timeline was designed to allow our team to explore creative options.
PDN: In applying for the grant, what was your pitch in terms of the value of the project as a technical and creative innovation?
REH: I suppose the biggest factor in pitching this project was its interdisciplinary approach—the fact that it combined ideas, tools and methodologies from a variety of media. Another exciting factor was that what I proposed wasn’t a normal method of production—the gear, software, and know-how to create a project like this hasn’t been overly accessible in the past for arts based projects—it has certainly been around, but the availability, particularly the software to handle this type of project, I feel is new to a broader group of creatives.
PDN: Now that you’ve completed a pair of these projects, how do you imagine using this experience and this style of production in the future?
REH: This has definitely been the most technically challenging project I’ve undertaken to date. It’s definitely set a new bar for me personally in terms of where I want to take my work—both technically and creatively. I’m very interested in pushing the editing style used in “Krump 360” and “Ballet 360” further—making edits more complex, faster, and integrated with sound. I’m very interested in taking this style of production and applying it to Music Videos and Commercial Work.