It’s now possible and worthwhile to shoot videos in 360° format. Quick explanation. This is a video where you, the user, can just move your smartphone around and look at what’s happening in front, behind, above and below the camera. It’s a completely new video experience and if you put on a Virtual Reality headset, then you get completely immersed in the experience and feel like you are in another world.
360° films are becoming interesting because they are becoming affordable. To get the VR experience, you can spend as little as a few euros for Google Cardboard or 200 euros for Samsung’s Gear VR that attaches to one of Samsung’s smartphones. And even without the VR experience, you can still get a 360° experience from your smartphone.
We’ve just produced our first corporate video in this format and this is what we’ve learnt.
- Get on to Expert forums. There are so very few people producing in this way right now that you should get yourself onto whatever expert forums there are. We certainly did and learnt a fair bit but we would have loved to have learnt more. There are very few forums on this subject so if you’re working on a 360° film or VR film, then start writing and lets share our experiences.
- Choose the right rig. Not an easy decision since the technology is changing so fast. Our guess is that within 12 months, we’ll probably be choosing another rig as the technology will have moved on. This time, we chose a 3D-printed rig that we shipped in from Hong Kong. It was the iZugar 360. It holds six GoPro Hero 4 cameras but we had to change out the lenses with widescreen lenses that iZugare supplied. There are two other main options when it comes to rigs. Read our article on what camera to choose.
- Filming is a whole different ball game. Remember – these cameras see everything, including the camera team and the lighting so you have to think cleverly. You don’t usually want to be in the scene. When we shot at a milk farm and left the barn, we returned to find the camera rig had been knocked over by a cow that was licking one of our six GoPro camera lenses. The end result was quite fun but not what we were after.
The other major thing to think about is not have objects too close to the rig. Or you will run into problems in stitching afterwards. Try to keep everything at least two metres from the camera. We’ve written a more comprehensive piece on things to think about during the shoot. It’s worth a read if you are getting started in this area.
- Editing is extremely time-consuming. This technology is in its very early days but you need to remember that you’re dealing with between 6 and 14 4K cameras all at once. That’s a huge amount of data. We choose to use Kolor software to handle all the data for editing and to ’stitch’ together the material from all the cameras. Jus think. One HD images is made up of about 2 million pixels. Six 4K film frames are made up of about 50 million pixels.
The big job here is to correctly synch all the six cameras to create one 360° film. If you don’t get it right when you record the film, you will spend hours trying to get it right when doing the synchronisation. And even then it may not work out so you need to record everything correctly.
Either way, you’re still in for a time-intensive period when editing just due to the data amounts. Be prepared to go back to the old days when the first digital ediitng software emerged and you had to wait 10 minutes for a few transitions to render. We’re back there again.
- Don’t think film. Think theatre. This is a fundamentally different way of thinking. You can’t stand behind a camera and say action. You have to make sure all your cameras are synched and either get out of there or hide in some way, unless you want to be a part of the action.So. It’s not about close-ups and mid-shots. You’ve got one scene and that scene needs to have movement on its own. Everything has to happen around one central point. It’s a whole new stage with a whole bunch of exciting opportunities. Good luck.