360-degree CAMERAS and VIDEOS are HERE!

Photography is changing…and so are the ways in which information is being shared.

Imagine viewing an image from a 360 degree angle – spherical images…possible? Yes! Thanks to technological innovations, audience can view, for example – the woods, from all angles including top and bottom. Further, using a virtual reality headset, the photo can be rotated giving an illusion of being present in the woods. One can view practically anything – hurricane damage, surgical medical procedures, lake/rivers or landscapes, surrounding architecture, refugee camps, sports fields, apt coverage of news and vacation shots via the 360 cameras and videos. According to Futuresource Consulting, spherical cameras constitute 4 percent of consumer camera consignments. Added to this is the benefit of viewing these through Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. These cameras are also opening up the possibilities of taking 360 degree selfies! One can instantly connect and share the selfie on Facebook or other social networks by divulging in all their surroundings.

360 Degree Cameras

These are of two types: single lens and dual lens. While single lens simply capture the content in good quality, dual lens tends to stitch content together. Again, some cameras require a high end smart phone, while the others require just a mobile application or a desktop software suite.  

According to John Carmack, the chief technology officer of Facebook’s Oculus VR subsidiary, “People would spend less than 50 percent of their VR time playing games. Instead, they may don VR headsets to do things like virtually attend a wedding.

All this is possible with 360 degree cameras…small enough to fit in the pocket and not highly priced either. The big players such as Nikon, Kodak and Samsung have entered the market with 360 degree cameras; with Facebook and Google supporting the 360 degree videos along with the provision of live streaming of these videos. No more do photographers have to use multiple cameras for taking different angles, or transfer them to different softwares to make it easily observable. Videos too can be recorded quickly and easily and uploaded on the various social sites. Twitter too is trying to encourage such videos via its Periscope application. Though these cameras require more horsepower, smart phones today are aiding this technology due to their energy efficient chips. Apart from connecting cameras with various applications on smart phones for composing shots and connecting multiple images in video streaming; computer vision algorithms allow for live video streaming and quick stitching which actually have 6 to 24 lenses.

Here are a Few Examples for Various Nuances

Low light: ALL ie camera can capture images in low light; e.g. during snowmobiling and snowboarding.

Videos: Mount the Kodak Pixpro SP360 4k on a drone to produce aerial 360° videos; e.g. wakesurfing + SP360 4K + solo drone.

Sports: Watch the extreme action from all angles going on the football and basketball fields through the dustproof and water resistant 360Fly 4K.

Affordable: LG 360VR is another camera through which one can upload videos on YouTube 360 or Google Street View. One can also simply view the content on LG 360 VR.

Smart Cameras: Nikon KeyMission 360 does all the stitching in the camera, is shockproof and waterproof along with working in extreme temperatures. The Giroptic iO 360cam is also waterproof, can stream videos and connects to GPS for geotagging. Insta 360 Nano also allows one to take photos and videos, requires a free application and the possibility to enjoy content with a VR headset. Insta 360 lets one watch the video in real time and a lower model of Kodak Pixpro SP360 is a good buy at a lower cost. Ricoh Theta S has placed the image sensors on the sides of the camera giving it a thin shape.

News: Journalists use the Samsung Gear 360 for producing 360 degree news coverage. Can also be used in viewing the quick action in skydiving.

Some cameras such as Vuze, Kodak Pixpro Orbit360 4K, GoPro Fusion, ORBI Prime, LucidCam, FITT360 will be available for consumers in the near future. 

360 Degree Videos

360 degree videos are also known as immersive videos as they provide a completely engrossing experience. Recordings from all angles can take place at the same time. And as the 360 degree photos and videos provide absorbing happenings, they can offer new perspectives in documentaries, sparking empathy as these conveys the true and harsh realities. Viewers can also be invited to groove along in their favorite songs in music videos via VR and 360 degree filmmaking. The future of education through 360 degree videos can provide an involvement via the interactive learning tools providing holistic education to the child. Further, it is possible to watch such videos on YouTube through a smart phone or a personal computer. Watching and experiencing the videos is being made possible through the accessory Google Cardboard. In fact, Google has already gone on to sell 10 million cardboard VR headsets!

Are these required or not?

There are times to consider when a 360 degree video is actually required or not – would it be just a gimmick or actually make it an enjoyable moment for the viewer. Is the place environmentally rich or is it within the confines of just walls? The focus should be the deciding factor too. Should the viewer place his focus on one aspect or look around at the other surroundings too? These factors can help in deciding if taking a VR and 360 degree video is required or not.

Ultimately, when viewers watches a 360 degree video, especially in the VR mode, they want it more as it is not just watching the content, it is a way of experiencing and interacting with the content, truly revolutionizing the way information is imparted and received.

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