The City Within, a 360° documentary for FT’s Hidden Cities Rio

The City Within, a 360° documentary for FT’s Hidden Cities Rio

The Challenge

Hidden Cities by the Financial Times and Google is an FT Weekend supplement that brings together Google technology and the knowledge of FT’s Weekend journalists, for readers to discover fresh perspectives on some of the world’s cultural and political capitals.

To celebrate the start of the 2016 summer Olympics, the latest edition of Hidden Cities put the spotlight on Rio. Visualise was appointed by FT’s agency adam&eveDDB to produce their first virtual reality project, a 4 minute 360° documentary, The City Within, a companion piece to journalist Samantha Pearson’s special report. Viewers are invited to take a unique tour around Rio’s favelas via the Hidden Cities: Rio microsite or on YouTube.

The Soulution

Our main objective was to capture the change that is affecting Rio’s favelas, as they have been undertaking a transformation over the past couple of decades. Shooting in the favelas provided a unique challenge – we needed to be light on our feet, flexible and be able to work in extreme conditions. As such, we used custom, action-cam based rigs. The shots varied from static positions in busy streets to rides on motorbikes, drones flying over Rio and even getting our feet wet in the warm waters of Sao Conrado.

As we are constantly working on new ways to be more agile and efficient across all areas of production, this shoot was the perfect opportunity to trial our new portable VR DIT machine. This enabled us to quickly replay and review footage to ensure what we had captured was fulfilling the creative.

“This project was a very rich and exciting one to work on – we not only had a chance to look closely at Rio de Janeiro through the eyes of our correspondents and photojournalists on the ground, but also to explore how 360 video can be used to extend the insightful access that we always strive to give our readers.”

Natalie Whittle, FT Weekend Magazine associate editor and editorial lead on Hidden Cities.

The complexity of the project meant Samantha Pearson’s voice over being recorded in Brazil, a soundtrack scored in Australia and the main video post in our London studio, pulling these components together in 2 weeks.

With such a short time frame from shooting to delivery on 35,000 cardboard headsets, a series carefully structured stages and reviews in the post pipeline was followed using the new Visualise Immersive Pathway (VIP).

We delivered this project at 4k resolution, high frame rates and with directional audio for YouTube. However, we have master files at 6K and full binaural sound, future proofing the project and allowing for high end VR delivery.

The Results

1. Hidden Cities Rio has reached over 21k users who generated 100k page views
2. The City Within: Life in Rio’s favelas 360° video has been watched 234k times across FT.com and social platforms
3. User engagement on the site is incredibly strong with each user viewing an average of 5 pages and spending 2 minutes 33 seconds on the hub
4. United Kingdom, United States and Brazil account for 67% of the audience geo
5. The City Within is the best performing piece of written content for the FT Weekend.