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Aliens & Explosions in Google & The Mill's Incredible New VR Experience



Latest installment in the Google Spotlight Stories takes viewers on an intense adventure

Aliens & Explosions in Google & The Mill's Incredible New VR Experience

The Mill has collaborated with Google ATAP, Bullitt Production and director Justin Lin to co-create ‘HELP, the latest installment in the Google Spotlight Stories. ‘HELP’ is their first immersive, live action film made uniquely for mobile. Starting today, ‘HELP” will be available for free with the new Google Spotlight Stories app on Android and iOS via the Google Play and App Store. 

Google’s Spotlight Series was launched in October 2013 as new storytelling platform for the mobile audience. ‘HELP’ is the fourth story in the series, and is a classic tale of explosions, aliens, heroines and heroes; the difference is the phone holds the story allowing the audience to hold a window to look anywhere, set the pace and frame the shot.

Google Spotlight Stories has created a new mobile format for storytelling that pushes what’s possible technically and creatively, by engineers and artists.

In the context of recent immersive or Virtual Reality (VR) productions, ‘HELP’ is groundbreaking in that it combines live action and Computer Graphics in a 360 environment, creating an action-driven story deploying cinematic quality visual effects.  

The Mill was involved in every aspect of ‘HELP’, collaborating from the planning stage to assist Justin Lin and the team at Google ATAP in realizing their ambitious, cinematic vision. A major challenge that The Mill helped solve, was the lack of a camera rig equipped with multiple cameras (built in a full 360 degree array) and able to follow the action in the way the director required.

After numerous tests, experimentation and R&D, The Mill developed ‘Mill Stitch’ (TM pending), a proprietary software solution that takes images from multiple cameras and then  ‘stitches' the output into a continuous 360 degree view. This ‘on-set’ solution provided the director and director of photography with the unique ability to dynamically move the camera to follow the high-intensity action that is the dramatic hallmark of ‘HELP’. During post-production, a more refined version of ‘Mill Stitch’ was used in tandem with several other proprietary Mill software tools to rebuild a seamless drama combining live action and vast CG environments. 

Alongside the new pipeline and desktop tools, The Mill created an app that allowed for daily viewing on a tablet so Justin and the Google ATAP team could review the film. 

The Mill’s CEO Robin Shenfield explains: “Collaborating with Google’s ATAP team of experts and with such an acclaimed live action director as Justin Lin allowed The Mill to flex its creative and technical muscles to solve new and complex challenges.  

“It’s been, to say the least, a colossal learning experience and given us very valuable insight into the technical and creative challenges involved with new immersive and VR film-making. It’s a perfect fit for us to be at the epicenter of a new format and pioneering a new way of telling stories.”

Full Creative Credits

VFX & Design

VFX & Design: The Mill

Exec Producer: Sue Troyan, Reece Ewing

Producer: Leighton Greer, Alexandra Paton 

Shoot Supervisor: Gawain Liddiard, Daniel Thuresson, Tawfeeq Martin

Creative Director: Gawain Liddiard

Technical Innovations Manager: Tawfeeq Martin

Senior Research & Development : James Studdart

Research & Development: Timothy Wernette, Andry Jong

2D Lead Artists: Daniel Thuresson

3D Lead: Gawain Liddiard, Dan Moore, Elizabeth Mitchell

Animation Lead: Jacob Bergman

Lighting & Rendering Lead: Sean Durnan

FX Lead: Ashraf Ghoniem

Asset Lead: Krystal Sae Eua

2D Artists: Ashley Forbito, Ben Smith, Dag Ivarsoy, Daniel Lang, Don Kim, Elliott Brennan, Greg VanZyl, Jason Bergman, Kevin Flores, Jake Albers, Lisa Ryan, Mike Ek, Patrick Heinen, Sam Evenson, Timothy Crabtree

3D Artists: Aldrich Torres, Craig Halperin, Jonah Austin, Katie Yoon, Michael Rogers, Steve Blakey, Tyler Mele, Brittany Drew, Berk Hakguder, Blake Guest, Brett Angelillils, Bridget Warrington, Chris Bayol, Chris Goodrich, Danny Yoon, Darren Sumich, Dustin Colson, Fabian Elmers, Hartwell Durfor, James Ma, Jason Jansky, Jesse Flores, Juan Zavala, Katie Yancey, Kelvin Liang, Majid Esmaeili, Martin Rivera, Matt Bohnert, Mike Di Nocco, Milton Ramirez, Phil Mayer, Rasha Shalaby, Sharlene Lin, Yorie Kumalasari, Mario Afu Hassan, Jeffrey Lee, James Mullholland, Sergio Xisto, Stephen New, Filippo Forno, Quentin Sauvinet, Charlotte Akehurst

Matte Painting: Itai Muller, Gillian George, Timmons Sung, Michael Sheffels

Art Department: Brett Lopinsky, Clare Carrellas

Production Coordinator: David Lawrence


Colour: The Mill 

Colourist: Gregory Reese


Production Company: Bullitt

Director: Justin Lin

Exec Producer: Todd Makurath

Producer: Diane Castrup

Director of Photography: Claudio Miranda, Phedon Papamichael

COO/CFO YomYomF: Sal Gatdula

Creative Director: Philip Chung 

VFX Supervisor: Alex Vegh 

Production Supervisor: Taylor Steadman

Asst. Production Supervisor: Michael Cheng

1st AD: Kirk Rogers

2nd AD: Jeb Barrows

Camera Rig Development

Company: Practical Magic

Producer: Matt Lewis

Engineer: Bob Bristow

Production Coordinator: Whitney Rowlett Senn

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Genres: Action, Visual VFX

Mill New York, Mon, 08 Jun 2015 15:33:05 GMT