Ouroborus, an immersive heist film made by nine Buffalo State University students in the television and film arts (TFA) program, is the first 360-degree narrative film with a full surround-sound mix made for the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium. It premieres at 5:00 p.m. Friday, December 1.
The upcoming total solar eclipse in April serves as a vital plot point for the 30-minute film, which follows two siblings who find a watch that allows them to travel through time to rob an art gallery in order to save their house.
Other screenings at the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium in the Science and Mathematics Complex take place at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, December 2, and 5:00 p.m. Sunday, December 3. Tickets are $5 in advance via EventBrite. Capacity is limited, with 48 seats available per screening.
The film was completed under the mentorship of Aaron Daniel Annas, TFA program director and associate professor.
“With virtual environments in entertainment and gaming rapidly increasing in popularity, our students at Buffalo State are experiencing a rare opportunity through this collaboration,” Annas said. “Often, virtual entertainment is experienced in the isolation of VR headsets or AR lenses. Creating a 360-degree film for an audience sitting together in a state-of-the-art planetarium, uninhibited by special headsets, allows a unified cinematic experience.
“With this project, our student filmmakers have an opportunity to create entertainment unlike anything experienced in the isolation of VR headsets,” he said. “It’s exciting for students to experience the magic that happens when art and science collide.”
Connor Greczyn, student director of Ouroborus, worked with director of photography Summer Faye Harris and editor Anna Logan for several days last summer, testing footage in preparation for the shoot.
“You can never fully prepare for the issues you run into the day of, on set,” Greczyn said. “At the end of the day, I think we found a lot of clever ways to play with space, blocking, and camera placement, so I’m excited for audiences to see how the final product came out.”
“Ouroborus was one of the most collaborative projects I have worked on as a filmmaker,” Harris said, “because not only was this our first time working with a 360-degree camera; it was our first time creating a 360-degree film period. There was so much planning to do, and learning curves we faced over the summer, like learning how the camera worked, testing it, creating 360 storyboards, creating shots to fit 360 more appropriately, blocking movement within a 360-degree world, and considering everything within our surroundings.”
The film features four professional actors and the talents of multiple Buffalo State students who served as crew members and extras in the unique production.
“I am thrilled to be collaborating with the TFA program and students,” said Kevin Williams, Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium director and associate professor of geosciences. “Their work on this film is an exciting way to expand the immersive environment of the planetarium beyond the sciences. As far as I know, we are the only university to have a collaboration like this, where students produce full, immersive films for viewing in a planetarium or other immersive space.”
Jackson Kuffel, student director of marketing for Ouroborus, contributed to this story.