Andrey Vorobyov: Slovenia Through the Prism of Virtual Reality

Andrew’s S8 Studio is innovative in many ways. Together with his team, he creates video with a coverage of 360°. The clips of his studio can be viewed in two ways: through virtual reality glasses (VR – virtual reality) or traditionally—through the online players available on YouTube and Facebook. However, in the second case, a panoramic view can be obtained by moving video inside player with a mouse or using a touchscreen. Andrey believes that Slovenia is a country that deserves an all-sided examination. Representatives of the 2TM Company have asked the extraordinary entrepreneur about his company, prospects of this business, and possible target clients.

Andrew, how did it happen that you are in Slovenia?

I have long been thinking of creating my own studio that will help Russian production studios in filming TV-series, feature films, music videos, etc. in Europe. I started exploring the market. My choice was between Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. As you understand, the choice fell on the latter. It was important for me that the country was not only visually impressive, but also simple for running business. Slovenia is one of the easiest countries to start your own company.

What is the business model of your company?

Russian production companies that face scenarios where it is necessary to shoot Italy, Germany, the Mediterranean as a whole anyhow end up going to Europe. Otherwise, they are trying to make video somewhere in Russia, but frankly speaking the result is far from ideal. They need to look for some places resembling the original. However, the result turns out to be completely different from what was initially intended. I have already had experience of similar shootings—in Croatia and the Czech Republic though.

Therefore, you decide to try something similar, but in Slovenia, didn’t you?

Yes, I did. Slovenia is the best option. One may say that this country is the “many faces of Europe”. It provides a variety of locations and landscapes searched for by many filmmakers. For example, on the coast you can shoot a film about Italy, because the Venetian Republic owned these towns for a long time, and thus the influence of Venice on the architecture is strongly felt. If to move closer towards Austria or Hungary, one may capture pretty pictures of Germany or other European stories. This region has a completely different architecture, another influence. A small area of ​​the country is also beneficial. It usually takes an hour by car to get from one destination to another. During the day, you can shoot the mountains, the sea, and the plains. This is very handy.

Therefore, you show the final product to the Russian market, don’t you?

Yes, I did. This is our B2B approach. Our videos are then played on Russian channels. Before we tried to shoot “France” and other European countries in the Czech Republic and Croatia. However, Slovenia fits better for these purposes. It is versatile in many ways.

Andrey, please tell us how the idea of 360° video arose?

This very concept appeared after the studio in Slovenia was opened two years ago. However, I have entered the world of virtual reality quit recently, less than a year ago. My colleague film director showed a VR bespectacled 3D “Cirques du Soleil”, and I was expressly caught by this view. A bunch of thoughts appeared immediately. After 3 months, somewhere in August of last year, we purchased special equipment — 10 GoPro cameras of the 4th model, shooting 4K each, and a special device, to which these cameras are attached. This type of video is now in the forefront. The 360° video is gaining momentum. Both YouTube and Facebook have been supporting such videos for almost a year now. You can watch and rotate such videos on your PC and smartphone or enjoy the spectacle in the VR-glasses.

Is this trend popular in Slovenia as well?

Slovenia has a relatively small market, so we are going to work here in the B2B-segment as well. Though, in general, the interest is present. When someone shows something like that, people’s eyes light up in fire immediately. However, there is yet no established trend for the 360° video in Slovenia.

How are you going to develop the company?

We decided to find travel agencies and send them commercial offers. Probably, they will become interested in our adverts. Besides, we plan to cooperate with some tourist sites, such as Ljubljanski grad (the Ljubljana Castle), Postojnska jama (the Postojna Cave), etc. It would be cool to install points of virtual reality with our own captured content on such platforms.

What type of content do you have?

Video-tours around key tourist places in Slovenia. That is, people can wear VR-glasses and personally see Slovenia in 360° format.

What else will you do in terms of 360° video development?

One of the ideas is to organize broadcasting in this format—online broadcasting, live stand-up in 360°. Moreover, it is suitable for concerts and sports events. Slovenia after all is a very sporting nation. Airs in the new format should become popular not only here, but also in the world as a whole.

That is, you plan to cover not only the Slovenian market, but also to go further—to Europe, don’t you?

Yes, we do. We view the entire world as our potential platform. The 360° video is a dynamically growing segment, the demand for which grows as well. We want to show the world how beautiful Slovenia is, thereby attracting foreign tourists, creative people, and athletes.

Do you encounter any technical problems since the format is new and not supported by all browsers? Will this affect the coverage of your audience?

We have such concerns, especially regarding the 360° broadcasting. This is a very fresh idea. However, YouTube has recently claimed that in the nearest future they will launch a site for 360° broadcasting. We are waiting for this moment. So far, this is only an idea. We need somewhat about another six months. We have to buy additional equipment. We hope that in 6 months, YouTube will just launch this option, and then the problem with the video playback should at least become not so acute if not to disappear at all. Therefore, we develop and remain up-to-date with evolving technology in order to translate all ideas into life.

By the way, speaking about technologies. Did it take you a lot of time to master the technique of shooting 360° videos?

No, we somehow quickly figured out everything with both filming and editing-“stitching” via a special software, the licensed version of which we purchased directly for this purpose. You see, there are 10 cameras in the same place, a full review. Thus, to get full 360 degrees at the end, you need to stitch together images taken by each of these cameras. There are only two software programs in the world that allow this function: Kolor (a French one) and VideoStitch (an American one). Therefore, we bought a license for Kolor. I am a cameraman by profession. I have a lot of experience in shooting. Therefore, it was not difficult to master the new software. For some information, I searched on the Internet. Friends and colleagues helped me with another data. Now we are engaged in the production of 360° video and have already shot several videos in Russia, Slovenia and Austria.

One of these videos is “Christmas in Ljubljana”. Was it “for a portfolio” or for sale?

Those were a kind of showreels, which we hope will further provoke interest in potential partners in Slovenia.

Let us talk about the legislative side of the issue. Do you need to change the company sector in the transition to a new filming format, because the final product turns out to be completely different?

No, we don’t. The type of our company remains the same — film and video production. We have not completely abandon the “traditional” filming, just started devoting some time to the innovative aspect as well.

In general, were there any difficulties with the opening of you company?

No, there was none. I turned to a company mediator. The only thing was that I had to wait. There were no special problems, just a slight misunderstanding with legislative regulations. It resulted in a prolongation of the waiting period. Before receiving the final permit for working in my own company, I had to wait for 9 months.

Why did you decide to contact the mediator company?

I could open the company myself, but I decided to trust the professionals. I did not want to travel back and forth, waste time, overcome language difficulties, and wanted to do my own business, in which I am a professional, which I know and love.

You are now in St. Petersburg…

Yes, you see, I, on the one hand, develop my studio, and on the other hand, I’m still a cameraman, and I was offered to shoot a historical TV show for about Svetlana Alliluyeva, and therefore I’m temporarily here.

What will you do next?

Once I finish the shooting, I am going to return to Slovenia. Perhaps, after the final move, I will find some language courses. So far, I study Slovenian myself, slowly. For example, when I come across a new word, I open my dictionary and search for it. I correspond with my lessor. I try to do it in Slovenian. I use dictionaries… I want to learn the language. I really like it.

What was your impression of Slovenia during your stay here?

I believe that this is a very favourable place for living. Pleasant, kind, sympathetic people, close to our people by culture, language and mentality. A good place in terms of climate. Nice, pretty, well-maintained cities… It is great here.

Have you noticed any significant disadvantages in Slovenia?

Unless in terms of infrastructure. I feel lack of flights diversity and poor development of railways. On the other hand, there are good roads here. The motor transport industry is well developed. Therefore, perhaps, for a country like Slovenia, these disadvantages are not so significant.

Do you have any further plans?

I plan to return to my studio and develop the 360° video production. I want to make videos of this format about the most beautiful and unusual places in the country. The problem is that people cannot understand to the end what video we are offering until we demonstrate it to them. However, after watching, they start running around the floors and sharing it with their friends… This business requires personal meetings. We need to reach people out and interest them. Let us hope it works out.

And so do we!

360° video about Slovenia on YouTube

The brightest working moments, a showreel of the Andrey’s studio