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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. He is also an acting and dialogue coach. 



Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XI: Virtual Reality: Think in 360

Siraj Syed’s IFFI 2016 diary, XI: Virtual Reality: Think in 360

Clyde DeSouza found an elderly couple dancing in a Goa bar-restaurant. He captured the image and added perspective, giving it a 360⁰ viewing experience, and projected it at Maquinez Palace I, Panaji, as part of his Master Class at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2016. Even as the audience uttered wows, he clipped, “Imagine the same scene with a younger, more dynamic couple!” Welcome to Virtual Reality!

Science-fiction writer and Virtual Reality (VR) developer Clyde DeSouza is the man who has authored a short VR Graphic Novel, ‘Dirrogate’, based on his near-future science fiction novel, Memories with Maya. ‘Dirrogate’, the novel’s film adaptation, is an early example of VR Cinema, a 2015 stereoscopic 3D production, aimed at VR headsets, like Oculus Rift or Gear VR. ‘Dirrogates’ are digital surrogate, real-time 3D stereoscopic incarnations of persons, driven by real movements and body/face language. He made this film at a time when "no 360⁰ cameras were available, neither did we have 2D 360⁰ editing facilities."

“Besides being invaluable for its ability to detect audience engagement in ads, like: whether the audience is really looking at the product name or logo in this shot, and creating dynamic, changing billboards, VR has come to the feature film world too. Ridley Scott’s The Martian and James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 used VR. Cinematic hybrid worlds are the new thing. Video games and story-telling are possible in the same film. Just get the game deviser on the set. If you are making a blend of 3D stereoscopic and VR content, make sure that the cameras are in sync,” he shared.

There were four major international platforms for VR content until now--YouTube 360, Samsung VR, Oculus Store and Vrideo. “Unfortunately, Vrideo has shut shop just last week,” lamented DeSouza. China and Japan are way ahead of the West when it comes to VR. In India, Netflix and Hulu offer VR platforms. Hotstar and Voot are in talks too.” Dwelling on basics, DeSouza identified two set-up brands with cinematic VR cameras locked for 360 live action: one in the 16 configuration and the other in 24, capable of being upgraded to 32, but  “both are priced prohibitively, even after recent cuts,” he regretted.

(Nokia’s Ozo is one such camera. It was selling at US$45,000 in July 2016, compared to US$60,000 when it was first announced, back in December 2015. Each of the Ozo’s eight lenses has a 195° field of view, with a fixed aperture of f/2.4. Behind every lens is a 2K x 2K sensor. There is considerable overlap from one lens to another, which gives the user much more control at the stitching stage. It shoots at 30 frames per second, which is the live video standard, rather than 24 frames you usually see while watching a film).

In an illustration of what VR could achieve, Clyde showed the audience a short film made by an airline about its VR aero-plane at a trade exhibition. Seated in a model aircraft, ‘passengers’ were taken through a journey that promoted all the airlines’ services, and ended on a San Francisco beach. “When they came out, they were greeted by the same crew-member who had served them ‘on-board’, and you can see how excited they were.”

Some of the tips he gave to aspiring game-devisers and other VR hopefuls were:

Build for interaction

Show, don’t tell

Scale is relative, but build to room scale--you cannot cheat with scale.

Clyde DeSouza

Besides being a VR film-maker and advisor to technical bodies, Clyde DeSouza is the author of two books: "Think in 3D", for directors and 3D film-makers. The book has been seen on Hollywood sets of tent-pole productions, and Maya.

"Maya" is his debut novel in hard science fiction which has been received with critical acclaim from science personalities and reviewers.

Watch Dirrogate online at


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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