MSE’s VRig Take Viewers on an Immersive Ride through Seven Continents for Discovery TRVLR


Last Updated: February 21, 2018 6:05 pm GMT
(February 21, 2018) Burbank, CA-based manufacturer of camera and lighting support for the entertainment industry, Matthews Studio Equipment, recently helped expand the visual possibilities for Discovery Communications VR Series – Discovery TRVLR with their new specialty support the VRig. The VRig’s small footprint and extreme stability as well as multiple accessories provided the production company Here Be Dragons with safer, faster and more creative options than ever before.

Crew from left to right - Here Be Dragons Productions:
Mamta Trivedi: Executive Producer/Head of Production, Addison O’Dea: Director, Ari Palitz: Field Producer, Kate Wurzbacher: VR Director of Photography/Head of Camera department

A co-production between Discovery and Google’s VR team, this seven-part, 38-Episode series is the first to take viewers beyond the television screen and drop them directly into the lives of people from all corners of the globe – exploring the mind-blowing rituals, obscure traditions and life-threatening quests of very different cultures. “We wanted to document stories off the beaten path – the amazing lives of locals that an actual world traveler might run into on their journeys. On each continent, we shot a guru, explorer, renegade and an entertainer as well as a sunrise and sunset,” explains Kate Wurzbacher, head of the camera department that Here Be Dragons.

To move quickly, get into often tight and challenging positions, and keep the sequences stable for the VR mode, the team chose MSE’s VRig. “The rig’s light weight and small footprint that also had enough real estate for all the accessories required for live monitoring VR was exactly what we needed for this project,” Wurzbacher explains. “Typically, we shoot with multiple reference cameras, so our director can monitor all 360 degrees of action. We also had to carry wireless transmitters, external batteries, and audio recorders. This all gets mounted beneath the camera, in its ‘dead zone’. In the past, we used light stands, as they had a smaller footprint than a traditional tripod. But they frequently shook in even a slight breeze. The VRig is sturdy and minimizes the need for any extensive rig removal.”

The small camera crew had various challenges in the different locations – but what was constant were the sunrise and sunset shots. “For these, the camera had to remain stable for over two hours, usually in exposed, windy conditions,” Wurzbacher explains. “Any shake would be exaggerated in the time-lapse. Not a problem with VRig.”

In Mexico, the team shot a Mayan fire ceremony, involving masked, fully costumed participants stomping and dancing in a circle very close to the camera. “We couldn’t stop the ceremony at any point to adjust the camera, so we needed to be reassured that it wouldn’t shift over the course of several hours,” she continues. “We used the VRig with the auger spike attachment dug into the ground and walked away with a stunning, stable sequence.”

And, in New Zealand, they followed a spelunker deep into a series of caves. “We had to carry all of our gear into the cave and then set up the camera amongst giant rocks,” Wurzbacher adds. “We were able to build the camera rig on solid ground and carry the stand and all accessories on the uneven terrain where we used the rocky mountain leg to find a stable camera position.”

For Wurzbacher, the VRig fulfills a very specific demand in VR. “We need camera support that is the size of a light stand or monopod, but the sturdiness of a tripod,” she says. “VR is all about complete immersion in a captured world. You want to feel like you’re actually standing in the mountains in the middle of Armenia. After we shoot, we remove any trace of rigging so you don’t look down and feel like you’re standing on top of a tripod. VRig’s size lends itself perfectly for this.”

MSE’s VRig comes in two formats – VRig S30 (30 lbs.) and S75 (75 lbs.), has a small footprint to minimize nadir hole and shadow obstruction. Its stability is enhanced by Barbell Weight Retainer and optional Pump Cup or Auger Spike. The VRig slim profile minimizes view obstruction to live audiences. And, the vertical height range is ideal for sitting and standing VR perspectives. For more information:

Discovery Communications and Google’s Discovery TRVLR 38-episode series was launched in November of 2017 airing exclusively on YouTube and and on the Discovery VR app. It can be experienced in VR with the new Google Daydream View headset as well as with Cardboard. The series can also be viewed through the web, Android and iOS phones.

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MSE is a 48-year-old manufacturer of industry-specialized hardware, camera and lighting support. Its equipment is being used on entertainment productions and in major studios in over 90 countries around the world. The company has been honored with two Presidential “E” Award for outstanding contributions to growing U.S. exports, strengthening the economy and creating American jobs. Matthews has also been honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for Technical Achievement. MSE offices are located at their state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at 4520 West Valerio Street, Burbank, CA 91505.


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