'My Brother's Keeper' uses new VR tech to reenact the Civil War

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tags: Civil War, PBS, My Brothers Keeper



A story about two estranged brothers facing off on a Civil War battlefield might seem like a strange fit for a virtual reality film, but My Brother's Keeper isn't your typical VR movie. The PBS film, which premiered at Sundance last week, uses its period setting to show off several new filmmaking techniques, including the first 120 fps slow-motion recording in VR and the use of a customized action camera rig. But most important, it uses all that technical wizardry to craft a genuinely moving story.

My Brother's Keeper is set around the battle of Antietam, which is notorious for being the deadliest single-day fight in American history. Amid the conflict -- which involves over 150 Civil War re-enactors -- the two brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the fight. At a short running time of just nine minutes, we only get glimpses at their lives, but they're enough to make an emotional impact. The film, which was written and directed by Connor Hair and Alex Meader and produced by StoryTech Immersive and Perception Squared together with the Technicolor Experience Center, is also partially inspired by the PBS Civil War series Mercy Street.

"We are witnessing the birth of a new medium, so there is a lot for us to learn and invent at every point in the process; from pre-production, production, post-production and distribution, there is a lot of innovation happening," PBS producer Don Wilcox said in an email to Engadget. "Hardware continues to improve, capabilities expand, and shooting and editing techniques continue to mature. One thing that will help us over time is the development of standard formats -- today just about every platform has its own requirements, which creates extra work and inconsistency in what viewers ultimately see, depending on their device."




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