The Molecule Goes Inside The Mind of Conan
We were like little kids when we found out we were going to Comic-Con this year – not only because it’s Comic-Con in San Diego and we’re a bunch of nerds, but also because we were going to be showing off our latest Virtual Reality project for Conan O’Brien.
“We created an interactive VR experience that let’s the viewer see 3D animated Conan Funko Pop! figures in either Conan’s stage or his office,” explains Drew Wood, VR Producer for the project.
There was something particularly cool about being a part of this project – the VR headsets themselves. Once the Comic-Con guests arrived at the TBS booth, this is what they saw:
“People were totally lining up to try it!” says Drew. “Our lines were so large we had to cut them off.”
Molecule CEO Chris Healer was at first a little unsure how the Conan heads would work with the VR experience inside, but in the end was pleasantly surprised. “The fabrication group did an amazing job and I was super excited to see what they had done. With very little communication we were able to make something awesome happen that worked really well. Big ups to fabrication group!”
This is the second year in a row that Conan has hosted from Comic-Con San Diego. Last year Conan and his team created a lot of buzz when they offered a Conan360 Cardboard, plus 360-degree video clips of his Comic-Con segments in the Conan app. Ahead of this year’s the Conan team promised its viewers even more, including a chance to win Conan vinyl Funko Pop! figures like Stormtrooper Conan and Ghostbusters Conan.
It was a fun experience all around, and the audience loved the experience. “Laughter. Lots of laughter,” says Drew of the viewers’ reactions.
Shooting the Plates
The background for this project were filmed in Conan’s actual studio and office, and were shot by the amazing DP Marcus Johannes.
Chris Healer says that a shoot like this was particularly difficult. “Any time you are shooting full 360º, you have to clear all space around the camera, and that is a tall order when everyone is trying to prep the rest of the show.”
Post Production and Animation
The project was a total team effort, bringing together The Molecule’s Interactive, VR, 3D, VFX, and Motion Graphics teams. “Many people and departments were involved in this project, all creating fine work,” says lead character animator Larry Ruppel. “My particular focus was to create short animated scenes acted out in a funny and entertaining way.”
Along with animator Spyro Serbos, Larry and the team animated the tiny Conan bobble-heads’ individual performances. Because VR is still a new and growing field, working on a project like this is completely new territory, even for veteran artists like Larry.
“I found all the experimentation and discovery quite thrilling!” reflects Larry. “While VR takes away the viewing limitations of a particular camera framing, that new-found freedom of a 360° perspective means you have to devise ways to lead the viewer’s eyes to where you would like them to look so they won’t miss any of the action.”
It’s been an incredible journey so far working on this hilarious and cutting-edge project. There were a ton of hands on deck, and we’re excited to see what the Conan team comes up with next. Big shout out to 30 Ninjas… we love working with you guys!
And lastly, because we love these photos so much, please enjoy another shot of a Comic Con attendee wearing a big Conan head.
All of our departments collaborated to create the app design, menu design, CG animation, stitching, compositing, and effects (such as fire and lightning bolts).