Challenge: Galileo is a renowned science TV show from German television network ProSieben. As part of their program, Galileo decided to create a documentary about the Dashuhua, a spectacular 500-year-old tradition originated in the province of Hebei in central China, in which blacksmiths throw molten iron against an icy wall to create sparks resembling fireworks as part of the Lunar New Year celebration. The creators of the documentary were convinced that one single perspective for this extraordinary show would be incomplete to show the full magnificence of this performance, and this is where our expertise came into play.
Solution: In order to immortalize the entire essence of this tradition we decided to document not only the celebration itself but also get to know the life of the blacksmiths behind it –how they lived, what emotions they experienced before and after this tradition, and how their environment influenced their passion to continue this practice in years to come in a way that the viewer would feel as if they were witnessing the story happening right now, right in front of their eyes. By wearing a 360º VR video headset, spectators could look around and choose how to live their own experience of this tradition, whether that meant following the life of one particular blacksmith, getting lost in the breathtaking scenery of the remote region, or admiring the dazzling molten iron blast into thousands of beautiful sparks when they touched the cold wall.
Results: Both technically and conceptually, the 360º VR video documentary was well received by Galileo, as well as the final audience. Witnessing a 500-year-old tradition through state-of-the-art technology resulted in a poetic and innovative approach to documentary filmmaking that didn’t leave any viewer indifferent.
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