Nicolas Büchi (*1982) is a scientific researcher in the Cast / Audiovisual Media specialization, Department of Design at the Zurich University of the Arts.
A Proximal Visit – filming stairs in Hong Kong
I met Melissa Cate Christ in Summer 2016. She is in charge of a research project at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong that explores the sociocultural development of stairs in Hong Kong. The phenomenon of stairs in Hong Kong is only fascinating at second glance: Hong Kong is made up of skyscrapers and high-traffic roads. What’s missing are public places inviting the citizens to interact informally. Stairs can provide these places even when space is very limited, allowing markets, performances, open lunch tables and other uses to appear.
As part of a research project by the Zurich University of the Arts and the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, we were asked to produce several 360° videos in order to make these stairs come alive. Thanks to our previous cooperation with Sennheiser, we were already familiar with the AMBEO VR Mic, but we had not yet had the chance to exploit the mic’s full potential. For the project in Hong Kong – A Proximal Visit –, we were tasked with filming 10 street scenes and a dance performance with improvised instruments. The city provided a wonderfully diverse and unique soundscape: In a very small space, you can hear every sound source imaginable, from a jackhammer to a songbird.
We wanted our production team to be small and to be able to work as discreetly and flexibly as possible, which is why the AMBEO VR Mic was the best choice for us. While the 360° camera is rather conspicuous, the AMBEO VR Mic still looks like a normal microphone and doesn’t attract special attention. This was very important to us because we had to sneak out of the picture and leave the setup alone during recording.
„All in all, the AMBEO VR Mic is the easiest, most solid, most reliable solution for our rigidly organized on-site production and also delivers the highest quality results.“
Luckily, the AMBEO VR Mic is very easy to operate. Alun Meyerhans was responsible for the sound recording and he had to make sure that our sound engineer Thomas Rechberger would get high-quality recordings. One of the decisive factors was the perfect microphone alignment: In our setup, the microphone needed to be positioned vertically as well as in the same direction relative to the camera. We recorded with a Zoom F8, which allowed us to make the exact same adjustments to each channel.
In order to enhance the documentary experience of the stairs, there is a short introduction for which the voice-over is played on the stereo canals while the rest of the sound is experienced as a complete 3D world. In terms of the platform, we are currently releasing the experience on Facebook because it offers the finest resolution for the 3D channels.
About Nicolas Büchi
Nicolas Büchi (*1982) is a scientific researcher in the Cast / Audiovisual Media specialization, Department of Design at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). He has gained a rich experience in the production of VR content during his employment at Cast, but also through his own company Winterlife: All area media services. His collaborative work with the Game Design program, the Music Department and the Contemporary Art Research program at the ZHdK has demonstrated new ways of audio visual storytelling.
He studied Interaction Design at the ZHdK and worked afterwards for a long time in the creation and development of media content for museums and corporate clients all over Europe. His focus was always to find new ways of digital storytelling, either as a result of technological innovation, or as a result of completely new approaches to the audience.
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