FLC People
Virtual reality filmmaker shows the whole picture

Virtual reality filmmaker shows the whole picture

Monday, June 05, 2017

It’s a tale as old as photography: you see pictures of a house you might buy, or an event venue you want to book. The shots entice you to call on the place. But when you see it in person, it looks nothing like the photographs.

Jordan Alexander cannot count the number of times he witnessed that disappointment while working in real estate. That experience spurred him to found Everview360, a filming company that captures any space using interactive 360-degree video.

“It allows someone to jump on their phone or use a virtual reality headset and be in that environment,” says Alexander (English, ’14). “When you have a headset on, it feels like you’re in another world. It’s like the first time you see an aerial photo of campus, and it kind of blows your mind.”

If you have not yet donned a VR headset, Alexander describes how the screen reacts to the movements of your head. For example, if you’re in a virtual house and you look up, the video will show the ceiling. If you look down, you’ll see the floor. And if you look left, you might see the oven, or the doorway into another space.

“It’s such an immersive experience,” he says. “It’s obviously a lot better than standard still photos that only point in one direction. We point in every direction.”

"It’s so much fun for me to watch people have these experiences that they haven’t really had before. It’s rewarding to see the joy on their faces, and to use the technology in a practical way that will help their everyday lives."

Most of the camerawork and editing is Alexander’s domain; his business partner, a lifelong friend, handles the IT and business side of Everview360. Alexander has several techniques for capturing a space. He does groundwork, where he simply fixes the 360-degree camera in the middle of an area. He can mount the camera onto an RC car and drive it around to recreate the sense of moving. And he straps the camera to drones in order to film aerial footage.

So much of the opportunity comes from the relative newness of this field of technology. “We’re learning a lot as we go along,” he says. “There’s a few other specialist three-sixty people in the industry, and together we’re all collaborating and learning where we can take this technology and improve people’s experiences.”

The bulk of Everview360’s clients are real estate companies in the UK, where Alexander lives. “It allows people to go and view a house without having to leave their own house,” he says. “It saves real estate agents a lot of time, because they can send out a viewing that works as essentially a 24/7 open house. And the seller doesn’t have to keep cleaning the house six or seven times a day. It’s a more efficient way to buy and sell homes.”

While real estate is the bread and butter of Alexander’s handiwork so far, its applications are limitless. “When companies hear about our technology, their brains start ticking, and then we can collaborate and create something fantastic,” he explains. So far, his projects include sports simulations for athletes and bird migration footage narrated by a naturalist in Scotland.

“We’ve just done some work with a pilot who flies Boeing 737s, and he’s launching an app that allows you to sit in the cockpit with him as he teaches you how to fly the planes,” Alexander adds. “He goes through takeoffs, engine failures, all different types of scenarios. That was really fun to watch. I got to see a different type of audience engage with our content in a way that I hadn’t thought possible.”

This enthusiasm for new subjects is what carried Alexander into the field in the first place. He augmented his English degree by emphasizing digital media and video production courses at Fort Lewis College. This specialized combination of communications and technological skills landed him a role at Durango TV as a news anchor and sports anchor. (He developed his sports resume as team captain for the Skyhawks’ national champion soccer team in 2011.) From there, he went to KKCO NBC 11 in Grand Junction, where being a multimedia journalist allowed him to get behind the camera.

“The more I was playing with cameras, the more I realized how much I enjoy camera work and editing,” he says.

To pursue working behind the camera rather than in front of it, Alexander moved to Los Angeles to film footage for a real estate marketing company. And that’s where he pieced together real estate and 360-degree video, jumpstarting the concept that became Everview360.

The company is still quite new—they started operations in September 2016—yet already Alexander feels stunned by the boundless applications of the technology, and the joy that it brings his clients.

“It’s so much fun for me to watch people have these experiences that they haven’t really had before,” Alexander says. “It’s rewarding to see the joy on their faces, and to use the technology in a practical way that will help their everyday lives.”

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