By Kaitlyn Michaelis, University of Victoria
As someone who has followed Rooster Teeth’s adventures since 2011, I’m fairly familiar with their production work and the kind of humorous content they put out. The media production company has put out more than a handful of short films, video game playthroughs, created TV mini series broadcasted through their own website (Day 5, RWBY, and Crunch Time, to name a few recent ones). When I started taking Writing 420 and learned that we were going to be making a short 360° film, Rooster Teeth uploaded a short live-action 360° film to YouTube called Kidnapped.
The premise is that you are Agent X, caught in between two idiotic henchmen and their boss. You must be dispatched of, as you have come in the way of their plans. But through a comedic misinterpretation, the two bumbling henchmen take you out — an idyllic ride on a roller coaster, a dinner date, a canoe ride in the city of Austin, Texas.
As someone who’s enjoyed their content before and understands their style, I enjoyed the short. It played perfectly to Rooster Teeth’s corny humor, and definitely is tilted towards their fanbase. The issue with the short is that even though the camera is moving at times, it feels stale. In the canoe, you’re moving through the water, on the roller coaster, you’re moving on the ride — but then that laser scene cut happens and you’re standing still, unable to react. You feel as though you should be moving, but you’re not. Being addressed and unable to react when you feel as though the camera should be moving is jarring.
Frustratingly, the draw distance is poor, therefore making any far shot visibility useless. In the scene where they hit baseballs, you can’t even see the baseballs be hit in the cage. There is so much wide space and not a lot of interesting things to occupy that openness. The only benefit to the shots they took is the natural lighting, which comes across evenly through all the shots. Having the sun to illuminate the scenes is an effective way to save on lighting costs and to save the editor time. The bag over the head works surprisingly well as a way to cut each scene, working as an effective transition that doesn’t look awful with the stitching.
But even for all its flaws, the short has garnered 366,000 views as of October 4th. Reading through the comment section, people identify more with the actors than the actual characters, as the Rooster Teeth personalities are generally the draw for their videos. The most interesting thing is that the video is sponsored by Samsung, meaning that Rooster Teeth was provided the camera for the shoot.
In comparison, Corridor Digital, a much smaller YouTube video producer group, created a Where’s Waldo 360° short film. Unlike Kidnapped, Where’s Waldo effectively plays with humour using a concept that everyone is familiar with. Instead of being involved in the action, you watch as two agents play a silly game of Where’s Waldo with an actual Waldo. The difference is that this short, the screen is busy and there’s always something to hold your attention. Being wizards of digital editing and CGI, Corridor effectively puts in little tidbits of CGI to capture your attention or have you go “oh that’s cool!” in an effort to keep something so overused somewhat original.
You have Waldo zapped up in a spaceship that floats seamlessly in the sky, an obvious exemption from the stitching in the video. Even with the stitching, it’s hardly noticeable — but with Corridor being one of the most acclaimed digital editors, even they couldn’t fix every single stitching line, even though it looks great. Instead of CGI’ing a bottom to their stand, they put a black circle with little flashes of a classic Waldo illustration. In comparison to Rooster Teeth’s view count, Where’s Waldo has racked in 2,343,141 views since its initial release in February of this year. Its popularity may have come from an initial boom of 360° and VR hype, but it seems to be subjectively the better video.
In Corridor’s how they filmed it video, it looks like they used a set of GoPros, whereas since Rooster Teeth was sponsored by Samsung, they used the Samsung Gear 360° Camera. There’s hardly a quality difference between the two, with 360° still stuck in a grainy image that makes it almost difficult to watch. Comparing Where’s Waldo 360° to anything else Corridor has done, it looks like garbage. Yes, the initiative to start something new is there, but it most certainly is difficult when such beautiful pieces are being created on the flattie ‘classic’ 2D screen. But then again — when has society ever been open and welcoming to technological change?
Rooster Teeth. “Kidnapped: A 360 Experience”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, September 8 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpt0Rb6EO1I
Corridor Digital. “Where’s Waldo 360”. Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, February 29 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RG6ThD6Ynw