Archive for November, 2015

Just as 3D was making it’s comeback into the 21st Century, a new viewing experience has taken Point Of View (POV) videography into a new realm. 360 video recently made its way onto YouTube and other streaming sites, and for all intents and purposes it is possibly the most realistic viewing method that is not virtual reality. Ironically, some people are even dubbing it the truest form of virtual reality.

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Many YouTubers might have already seen the viral video taken by the Mythbusters showing a sunken ship surrounded by hordes of sharks (see below). In this video, the divers capture the underwater scene using POV cameras. As the video rolls, the controls on the YouTube viewer allow the user to move the camera angle 360 degrees.  You can count all the sharks for yourself!

The viewing experience is probably best viewed on mobile devices. When viewing the same video on a smartphone, the user not only change the point of view using the touch of a finger but can also change the angle by physically moving the phone around. Just type in 360 video on Youtube and try it our yourself…

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Since early this year, many videographers worldwide have embraced this new form of capturing real life experiences, from adventure seekers to bands and artists. A balloon ride becomes an all inclusive world tour in the palm of your hand.  Fort Minor (remember the rapper from Linkin Park?) gives a 360 degree glimpse into the boardwalk of Venice Beach.  Even a few Star Wars fans have created 360 trailers for The Force Awakens, which might not be a “real” world, but to Star Wars fans it is.

How is 360 video made? The method is similar to panoramic methods used for still photographs, except in this case the cameras are HD POV cameras. An improvised frame is built to hold multiple tiny POV cameras, creating a device that looks like a pine comb.  The lenses on each POV camera are very wide, allowing a great depth of field for intersecting one another. The video is recorded, downloaded and then combined to interlock the footage from each camera, creating a seamless streaming video that can be viewed from any angle.

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So is 360 video really that awesome of an experience? I will say that there are some flubs that need to be worked out. For one thing, most 360 videos tend to create a very dizzy experience. When you’re trying to watch a fast moving motorbike while looking up, down, left and right, you’re bound to be puking by the end of the ride. As if GoPro didn’t already create a movement of dizziness, now with 360 video there is no focal point to set your eyes to. With this I don’t see any major motion picture directors embracing 360 video in the near term, as virtually everyone who views it would have a different viewing experience based on what they chose to view.

Additionally, 360 video is pretty big byte-wise. Most videos that are shot in HD can’t be viewed the same way on certain devices, thus degrading the quality of the experience. It’d be wonderful to view the world in virtual HD all the time, but not everyone can have their way.

360 video might have its usefulness in practical situations. I see a lot of potential for this in research studies, law enforcement and military operations. Even if audiences are separated geographically, they can have a window to see distant locations via 360 video.  Imagine if the President had this kind of technology during the raid on Osama Bin Laden…

All in all, I think 360 video is pretty cool, but I don’t think I can watch more than 2:00 minutes of it at a time.

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