First Look: GoPro Hero Black 6

There seems to have been many GoPro models and sometimes, it has been hard to differentiate one from the next – especially when in each model number there are differing models as well, such as Silver and Black.

The GoPro 6 is said to differentiate itself from the 5 in a number of ways, but I can say, one of these is not looks! Side by side they are identical except for the colouring of the GoPro logo on the front.

GoPro does say though that the Hero Black 6 has an all new processor, the GP1 which allegedly gives twice the performance of the previous processor.

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Additionally, 4K60 and 1080p240 contribute to excellent slow-motion results.

GoPro is also saying that they have improved the image stabilisation in the GoPro Hero Black 6, and as good as it appears to be, I still think I’ll be hanging on to my copies of ProDAD Mercalli 2 to smooth out those really difficult shots.

Other improvements are in the area of low light performance and new night photo modes have been added. And hurray, zooming is now achieved by simply using the touch screen with gestures.

If splashing in the briny is your bag (or one of them), no longer do you need a housing to take the GoPro Hero 6 for a swim or snorkel. As long as you stay above 10 metres that is (which is getting into SCUBA territory anyway).

Voice commands are included for hands free operation. I can think of many areas this will be of benefit (not when snorkelling obviously) but when driving, most certainly. I know when we travelled across Australia last October, turning the Hero 4 on and off was the biggest hassle, having to stop the car each time, and that is now eliminated.

Finally, RAW and HDR modes are available as are on-screen exposure controls, advanced stereo audio processing and GPS data can be used in QuikStories, an app that transforms your footage into edited videos automatically.

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We’ll be putting our GoPro Hero 6 Black through its paces and have a full review soon. For more info, go to the GoPro website.

Review: Sony CyberShot RX0

Whilst looking for all the world like a souped up “action camera”, don’t be fooled

The first question you are invariably asked when you show someone the Sony CyberShot RX0 and you have told them the price, is “why so expensive when I can get a GoPro for $500 or a knock off for even less!”

The answer dear reader, is that the RX0 is not an action camera. Well it is, but it is much, much more as well.

Instead, think of it as a miniaturised grown up camera, with all the attributes to boot and then a bit more besides.

Build

The waterproof and shock proof design gives the RX0 a wide range of flexibility; the high rigidity of the extra super duralumin chassis enhances the reliability of the RX0, especially under tough conditions. Sony says it has put the camera under rigorous, repeated testing to ensure that its performance is consistent, especially when shooting scenes of land, sea and air.

To be exact, the RX0 rated at 10 metres depth in water, shockproof for a 2.0 metre drop and can withstand a crush weight of 200Kg

Specifications

Like it’s larger CyberShot siblings, the RX0 boasts an Exmor RS CMOS Sensor and BIONZ image processor. Super slow motion is available with frame rates up to 960 fps and an anti distortion shutter speed of up to 1/32,000 sec. For fast continuous shooting, the RX0 can perform at 16 fps to capture moving objects in high detail and Picture Profile and S-Log2 gamma settings enable pro-style movie expression.

Uncompressed 4K footage can be shot and recorded to an external recorder only sadly.
The inbuilt lens is a ZEISS Tessar T 24mm with a fixed F4 aperture. Focal length range is from 7.7mm to 30.7mm depending on settings. ISO can be dropped as low as 125 and up to a maximum 25600.

On the rear is a 3.8cm colour TFT LCD screen. It is not a touch screen, but is quite readable in sunlight, albeit with very small text as you’d expect. To the left of the screen is a lift off panel underneath of which is the slot for the microSD card, USB and micro HDMI port. NFC is not supported but WIFI is as is Bluetooth.

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Dimensionally, the RX0 is 59mm wide, 40.5mm tall and 29.8mm deep.
One thing we did not like was the pop out panel covering the interface ports is removeable, and as we found, easily dropped. Hopefully a future model will have this panel on some sort of hinge or with a restraining device to keep it attached to the camera. (We have since discovered this part should be tethered, but on the sample unit it had snapped somehow)

The full specifications of the RX0 can be found Specificationsincluding the complete range of recording modes (of which there are lots, as well as a whole bunch of shooting modes, picture effects, drive modes and dynamic functions.)

Multiple Cameras

The RX0 has been designed not only as a standalone camera, but to be used in concert with other cameras thus opening up the gamut of the potential of the camera. Sony says that for multi-angle shooting with multiple cameras is made easy as “… Respective optical axes of multiple RX0 cameras used together can be properly aligned for flexible setups, thanks to the cameras’ minimal symmetric design”.

Cameras can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet and the Sony PlayMemories app installed.

Accessories

The RX0 appears to have been designed as its own little ecosphere with a range of accessories available to make the camera suitable for different environments and shooting conditions.

For example, there is a cage, underwater housing (to go beyond the 10 metre depth limit of the standalone camera), a camera control box for a wired network and multiple cameras, filter adaptor kit, external microphones and more on the Sony website. No doubt there are more on the way, but for mounting, thankfully a standard thread is on the underside of the RX0.

Price

When placed against a GoPro or similar, the price tag of $1049 does look steep, but after delving deeper into the capabilities and functionality of the RX0, it’s easy to see how this, as I said at the start, is much, much more than a relatively simplistic “Action Camera” style of beast.

Indeed, Sony make its own Action Camera which is a very capable and cost-effective animal on its own, so the RX0 is not even needed as a GoPro competitor.

Sony seems to be treating and marketing the RX0 more as an “artistic” camera if the samples on the website are anything to go by. And it can be said the results they show are quite stunning and worth a look. I have reproduced one here to give you an idea.

Would I buy one? I feel there is a specific place for a camera such as the RX0 and in that sense, I cannot see a place for it for my day-to-day usage. But I can certainly see that in the right hands, some beautiful imagery can be created with it, and I can think off the top of my head a number of photographers and videographers who would make very good use of the RX0.

I understand that well known photographer / cinematographer Pieter deVries ACS has already put the camera through its paces and called it “brilliant”. You couldn’t get a better testimony than that.

GOPRO Launches Entry-Level Hero Camera For $299.95

$299.95 HERO Joins $429.95 HERO5 and $599.95 HERO6,
Making GoPro Life-Capture Accessible to All

GoPro, Inc. has added a new HERO camera to the family. On sale now, HERO is a $299.95, go-anywhere, capture-anything camera that makes it easy to share experiences that would be difficult to capture with a phone.

HERO features a 2-inch touch display, is waterproof to 30 feet and is extremely durable, making it the perfect GoPro for kids, adventurous social sharers and travelers.

“HERO is a great first GoPro for people looking to share experiences beyond what a phone can capture,” says Meghan Laffey, GoPro’s SVP of Product. “HERO makes it easy to share ‘wow’ moments at a price that’s perfect for first-time users.”

Sharing cool experiences with HERO is simple. It offloads your photos and videos to the GoPro app which creates fun, shareable videos for you, automatically. No more fumbling with your SD card or plugging your camera into a computer. HERO makes it simple.

Those looking for the ultimate GoPro-experience can subscribe to GoPro’s PLUS subscription service. Cloud backup, 20-percent off accessory discounts and more are included with a PLUS subscription for just $7.95 a month, cancellable anytime.

HERO is available today at retailers around the world and on GoPro.com. Key features include:

  • Award-Winning Image Quality: HD Video (1440p60 and 1080p60) and 10MP photo performance
  • 2-Inch Touch Display: Using HERO is as easy as using your phone thanks to its touch display
  • Voice Control: Tell HERO to start and stop recording, take a photo, turn off and more
  • Waterproof + Extremely Durable: Waterproof up to 30’ (10M) and designed go everywhere your smartphone can’t
  • Video Stabilization: HERO features video stabilization that helps smooth out the shakes
  • Smartphone Compatible: HERO offloads your photos and videos to the GoPro app which creates fun, shareable videos for you, automatically
  • Body and Gear Mountable: compatible with 30+ GoPro mounting accessories

To see the new video announcing HERO, visit the news page.

(Prices in US dollars until confirmed otherwise)

TV to be broadcast in 4K in Sydney

Free TV and Broadcast Australia plus SBS and the ABC have announced trials of the next generation for broadcast technology that will commence in Sydney.

The centre piece of the tests will be the new DVB-T2 technologies and compression algorithms that could give Australian viewers 4K TV reception. The DVB-T2 standard is being mooted as a potential replacement for the current DVB-T standard giving video with four times the picture quality than the high definition standard now in use

Broadcast Australia CEO Peter Lambourne believes the current TV standard is poised to make the leap to the new standard.

“Terrestrial free to air television delivers its service to 99 per cent of the population and over 20 million Australians tune into television every week. This trial is an important part of ensuring that when the time is right, the terrestrial television platform is ready for the next stage of its evolution and that it can deliver the best possible viewing experience”.

Broadcast Australia is holding limited trials of DVB-T2 at its site in Chatswood, but much wider trials will begin soon across three transmission sites in Sydney from April to June this year.

Information about these trials will be published on the Broadcast Australia website.

With the price of 4K TVs plummeting, Australian consumers are snapping up the sets. Sales are only expected to boom over the next five years. The large base of 4K enabled TVs makes DVB-T2 an ideal format for Australia’s TV transmission. A point not lost on Free TV CEO Bridget Fair who said:

“While our current platform has many years of life in it, this trial is about planning for our long-term future.”

International Women’s Day: Meet The Women In Screen

Meet the nine women profiled in ABC’s Women in Screen series, hear about their journey behind the camera, and find out what advice they have for those starting out.

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, the ABC celebrated the careers and creativity of nine trailblazing women.

Their expertise has helped create a wealth of Australian films and TV, from The Sapphiresto Sherpato Q&A and Soul Mates.

Hear these inspiring individuals recall how they got their start, and what it’s been like working in production design, camera departments, music, editing, directing and more.

Apply now to get your own start in the Australian screen industry through ABC and Screen Australia’s Your Time Cadetship 

See the full story at Screen Australia

Photostory Premium VR creates extraordinary virtual worlds

MAGIX releases its first virtual reality software

MAGIX Software announces Photostory Premium VR,  its first virtual reality software. Now impressive virtual worlds can be created in just a few steps with conventional photos and videos, and no additional hardware is required.

The release of Photostory Premium VR complements MAGIX’s successful Photostory product family with a new, innovative way of editing photos and videos. The program includes an extensive set of VR functions, the full functionality of Photostory Deluxe and numerous additional effects.

2018-03-29_12-09-50Photostory Premium VR offers users various options to create interactive VR presentations. 360° photos and videos can be assembled to form professional virtual tours. Additional content such as regular photos and videos or texts can be added and edited with just a few clicks. The software also makes it possible to achieve real surround sound by adding audio files. Users who do not have an extensive collection of 360° or 3D content can also display their conventional photos and videos in one of the 3D worlds provided by the program.

No additional hardware is required to run Photostory Premium VR and create impressive interactive VR presentations. Even an ordinary PC or laptop can realize the full potential of this incredible new VR software. It brings a technology, which is increasingly used at trade fairs and in the real estate industry, to a completely new audience of every-day users. Photostory Premium VR also supports advanced VR hardware and fully-featured VR content that can be extensively edited.

For sharing and playing finished VR experiences MAGIX provides the free app MAGIX VR-X Player. This allows viewing on a PC or laptop, with VR glasses or with a VR headset for smartphones.

MAGIX has also announced Photostory Premium VR 365 which is a subscription service that allows users to enjoy all of the professional features of Photostory Premium VR for a low monthly fee.

Virtual reality is currently one of the most exciting technological developments of our age”, says Stefan Renz, Photostory Premium VR’s product owner. “We have  over 20 years of experience in developing photo and video editing software and are using this knowledge to help shape VR innovation. We truly believe that Photostory Premium VR will greatly expand the circle of users who can take part in this exciting new technology.”

already been working on VR projects with Intel (Alloy) and Microsoft (HoloLens). In 2017 the company acquired Dresden software firm, simplitec GmbH in order to tap into the virtual reality market. The simplitec team is now fully focused on VR development under the MAGIX management.

Depending on their requirements VR newcomers and professional producers of VR content can choose between different versions of Photostory Premium VR:

  • Photostory Premium VR € 129.99
  • Photostory Premium VR 365 from € 9.99 per month
  • VR-X Player free of charge

A detailed version comparison can be found here:

https://www.magix.com/us/photo-graphic/photostory-premium-vr/

Canon launches flagship full-frame Cinema EOS camera

New camera capable of recording up to 5.9K, delivering ultimate creative freedom and quality

Canon Australia today announces its flagship full-frame Cinema EOS camera, the C700 FF. Featuring a newly developed, next-generation Canon full frame 38.1 mm x 20.1mm CMOS sensor, the camera is capable of recording up to 5.9K, delivering ultimate creative freedom and quality. The EOS C700 FF also supports multi-format recording, shooting with EF, PL and anamorphic lenses. When using EF lenses, the C700 FF supports Canon’s innovative autofocus (AF) system, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which is ideal for full frame format shooting.

New sensor technology, sensor modes & recording formats

The newly developed full frame 38.1mm x 20.1mm CMOS sensor, designed for high-end production, enables filmmakers to capture filmic images with unprecedented low noise versus smaller sensors, natural skin tones, shallow depth-of-field, and a broad ranging tonality that exceeds 15-stops of dynamic range. This provides freedom and flexibility in grading and post production, as well as in the capture of HDR images. The newly designed sensor also allows the user to explore different sensor modes including full frame, Super 35mm and Super 16mm, while recording in a wide range of versatile formats including ProRes, XF-AVC (internally to CFast cards) and Canon’s uncompressed Cinema RAW.

Using the dedicated CODEX CDX-36150 (available separately from supplier), the EOS C700 FF can record 5.9k 12/10-bit RAW, with 4K and 2K RAW 12-bit options available, as well as shooting ProRes 4K. For high frame rate shooting, the EOS C700 FF can shoot up to 60fps (5.9K), 72fps (4K crop) and at up to 168fps (2K crop). Using the 5.9K oversampling processing, the camera is also able to deliver a higher quality 4K and 2K image with reduced moiré and noise versus cameras equipped with smaller sensors.

Lens options and design

The C700 FF is available in both EF mount and PL mount, compatible with Canon’s extensive range of EF series and Cinema lenses. Thanks to the vertical 20.1 mm sensor size, the C700 FF also enables users to shoot with anamorphic lenses. Using the Canon EF lens system, users can benefit from the full sensor size while shooting, as well as Canon’s innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which ensures focusing by locking onto and tracking a moving subject; critical in higher-resolution recordings.

The EOS C700 FF is also compatible with existing Canon EOS C700 accessories, including the EVF-V70 viewfinder, the MO-4E/ MO-4P B4 mount adapter and the OU-700 remote operation unit.

Availability

The new Canon C700 FF ships from July 2018 with pricing set by dealers.

EOS C700 FF Key Features

  • 9K full frame CMOS Sensor
  • 15-stops of dynamic range
  • Various sensor modes, including full frame, Super 35mm and Super 16mm
  • Accurate and reliable Dual Pixel CMOS AF system with Canon EF mount
  • Supports multiple recording formats, including Canon Cinema RAW, ProRes and XF-AVC

For more info go to http://www.canon.com.au/cameras/eos-c700-ff

Other Anouncements

CN-E20mm T1.5 L F – a wide-angle lens perfect for high-quality cinematic productions. This lens enables the straightforward capture of 4K images and enhances the current cine prime lens range.

Other features include:

  • Perfect for nature documentaries: The CN-E20mm T1.5 L F captures 4K footage in low light and allows you to produce natural blur effects, enabling a three-dimensional bokeh effect with a deeper depth of field.
  • Superb optomechanical build and durability: With a large diameter aspheric lens and low dispersion glass, the CN-E20mm T1.5 L F takes clear images every time.
  • 35mm full-frame shooting: You can expand your shooting opportunities with the CN-E20mm T1.5 L F, as this lens has an image circle, allowing you to capture premium quality footage with confidence.

The DP-V2421 and the DP-V171 – an expansion of Canon’s industry-leading range of 4K reference monitors. These monitors are both 12G-SDI capable, and include an extensive firmware update.

Both monitors have:

  • HDR image check and production support: Including HDR capable waveform monitor, HDR capable false colour function and HDR Range Adjustment function, you will be able to ensure your images are perfect for 4K production.
  • 12G-SDI capabilities: There are four 12G-SDI inputs on each monitor, which can deliver 4K 50P transmission through a single cable, meaning you can reduce your installation complexity and save on studio space.
  • Firmware update: With the addition of an HDR brightness monitoring function, the display can show the luminance value on a selected part of the screen, allowing you to confirm a detailed luminance value and change during HDR production. The update will also allow you to control the screen from a PC.

Unique features of each device include:

Canon DP-V2421

  • 24-inch 4k HDR reference display: This display achieves over 1,200 cd/m2 high luminance and the deep black, making it suitable for versatile applications.
  • Supports XYZ, RGB, YCbCr and ICtCp formats.

Canon DP-V171

  • 17-inch 4K UHD Professional Display: This is designed for studio monitoring or outside broadcast (OB) vans.
  • Robust and compact for high mobility.

Local availabilities:

  • The C700 FF will be shipping from July 2018
  • The Canon CN-E20 T1.5 L F will ship from June 2019
  • The Canon DP-V2421 and DP-V1711 will be available in Australia from June 2018

 

 

Intro Guide to Filming in 360° for VR Apps

This guide will cover everything that happens prior to upload to InstaVR. And we’ll do our best to incorporate actual client stories in how they approached these questions. This guide is geared towards corporate users, who are for the first time creating a VR app for marketing/sales, training, hiring, etc.

As always, feel free to reach out to our Sales or Customer Success team with any questions!

  1. How to Pick the Right 360° Camera for your  VR Project
  2. How to Plan for your 360° Shoot Days
  3. Tips on Filming in 360°
  4. Organizing & Editing Your 360° Media Post Shoot
  5. Conclusion

1. How to Pick the Right 360° Camera for your  VR Project

The number of 360-degree cameras has exploded since we launched in early 2016. Almost every major camera maker now produces at least one 360 camera. And most of the early camera producers have already moved upstream in terms of quality (see Ricoh Theta S -> Ricoh Theta V, Insta360 Nano -> Insta360 Pro, Samsung Gear 360 -> Samsung Gear 360 v2, etc)

Picking the right camera can be an overwhelming process for a first time 360° creator. We at InstaVR are camera agnostic — we only require that the camera capture in .jpg or .png for images, or mp4 for video — which virtually every VR camera does.

The best place to get an overview of the 360° camera market is tech news sites such as Tom’s Guide or PC Magazine.

To help you narrow down your decision, you should ask the following questions:

Do you want a 180-degree camera or a 360-degree camera?

This is a relatively new wrinkle in the camera selection process. In June 2017, Google announced it would be partnering with hardware companies to create VR180 cameras. Concurrently, InstaVR announced support for media generated by those 180-degree cameras. Unveiled at CES 2018, the first two official Google cameras are the Lenovo Mirage and the YI Horizon VR180 camera, along with them offering support for the Z Cam K1 Pro.

If you’re creating VR, why would you choose a 180-degree camera? Well first off, our heatmap data shows users spend the vast majority of their time in the front 180-degree field of view. So you’re not depriving your users of much visually. From a production standpoint, 180-degrees is much easier to film. You can hold the camera without worrying about being in the shot, you only have to consider 1/2 as much action, and your resulting files will be considerably smaller.

On the flip side, there’s way more 360-degree cameras on the market. There is also a certain cache to total immersion. And, if you’re going to be doing spatial audio (more on that later), you’ll get more mileage in a 360-degree environment. Ultimately, if you’re going for creating a more practical VR application (ie employee training), a 180-degree camera might be advantageous. Otherwise, you’ll likely stick with the more popular 360-degree cameras.

Is a prosumer (sub-$1K camera) going to be enough? Or do you need to invest in a Professional level camera? 

The answer to this question largely depends on the project. Some of our most noteworthy clients have created solid VR projects using what are largely considered prosumer cameras — eg TUI Group (Nikon KeyMission), US Navy via Left of Creative Agency (Kodak Pixpro + Samsung Gear 360), Zimmer Biomet Dental (Vuze), and Premise LED (360Fly).

Agencies that tend to work with more varied clients often have access to a number of different cameras, including higher-end multi-camera GoPro rigs, Insta360 Pro cameras, and YI Halos. You can read about use cases for more sophisticated rigs in our interviews with Galago Vision and Dusk, two premiere 360-degree agencies.

What are the upsides to multi-camera, higher-end cameras? They capture stereoscopic VR images/video, they can capture higher than 4K resolution (beneficial if you’re displaying via a high-end VR headset), and the audio/video experience will just be better overall.

On the downside, you’ll have to invest considerably more money (though you can rent some of the cameras), spend significant time stitching (though Insta360 Pro will stitch in-camera for 8K flat or 6K stereo videos now), and burn through a ton of SD cards.

For absolute beginners, it might be best to start with a $500+ prosumer camera with a decent reputation, such as the Nikon KeyMission or Garmin Virb, and then graduate to the Professional level.

What other camera equipment will I need for a VR shoot? 

You’ll definitely need a monopod or tripod. These help with stabilization and allow you to get the camera eye level (the preferred angle for 360 filming). It might also prevent what happened when we used a Gear 360 at SXSW last year, and put tape over the exhaust fan which caused the camera to overheat.

Depending on your audio goals, you may need additional mics, particularly for things such as capturing spatial audio. Like our interviewee Michael Wohl explained, you want the mics near the audio sources to capture lifelike audio. For instance, the new Ricoh Theta V has spatial audio built in, but the four mics are so close together in the camera, that it makes the spatial audio not as impactful.

Extra SD cards. You never want to run out of storage space while filming. Always carry more than you think you’ll need, so you don’t end up shorthanded.

Camera Charging Equipment. You’re not going to be able to charge your camera easily if you’re doing an outdoor shoot. So if you can bring an extra camera charging mechanism, do so. 360-degree cameras burn through power like crazy, so plan accordingly.

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(Image Courtesy of Scott Robinson of Galago Vision)

2. How to Plan for your 360° Shoot Days

In any type of filming, preparation is absolutely essential. Because of the unique nature of 360-degree video, and the way it’s viewed, preparation before shooting is even more impactful. Whereas traditional movie or advertising shoots can include shots done on the fly, doing the same in a 360 landscape is perilous. If not planned properly, you may not notice issues (i.e. missed audio) until you get home, as many 360 cameras don’t have easy playback mechanisms.

For that reason, we suggest investing significant amounts of time in the following activities:

Spend Plenty of Time Location Scouting

As 360-Degree Video Handbook author Michael Wohl shared with us, location is almost always a key character in 360 video, and thus location scouting is more important than you might think. Because users will be fully immersed, you have to consider the location from all angles. Obviously, that includes things like where will the cameraperson will be during shooting — holding the camera or out of frame?

But also, you have to consider the depth of the scene you’ll be capturing, the ambient noise quality, and whether you can effectively keep passing people from entering the scene. All of this is hard enough in a normal shoot, but gets compounded with the extra geographic territory covered in 360 media. Also, lighting — both in terms of location of lights and quality of lights — is essential. That’s why interview subject Scott Robinson of Galago Vision developed his own proprietary Ambit 360 Video Light.

Storyboard (If You Possibly Can)

Anytime you’re filming, storyboarding is a good idea. It’s even more valuable in 360-degree shooting though. Why? Because each scene you shoot is really two scenes, and many of your cast and crew may be first timers with 360 media. Accordingly, you’ll need to include twice the number of panes in your storyboards, to accommodate both 180-degree Fields of View.

You also might have to shoot quickly, as 360 media is often filmed outdoors. For instance, our client Left of Creative had limited time and access when shooting on a US Navy ship. By storyboarding ahead of time, the shoot process went much smoother. The crew knew where to be, where to set up the camera, and what should be captured.

Consider Camera Location Carefully

With the vast majority of 360-degree shoots, the camera is placed at eye level. This is because it will make the user feel most natural in the VR headset.

But there are other considerations as well, like should the camera be used as the sole POV for the viewer or should you have a person in front of the camera? Client Toyota, for instance, had an employee as a guide for their 360 office tour. This felt more natural than using voice over for conveying information. But when you introduce someone in front of the camera, you then have to consider things like how far from the camera the person should be placed.

Consider Audio Capture Carefully

Audio is as essential to immersion as video in VR. For that reason, many individuals and companies are investing a lot of time and energy into how they capture the audio. So equipment is obviously something to consider — will you just use the camera’s built-in microphones? Or possibly additional microphones to capture spatial audio? 

Beyond equipment, you also have to consider the ambisonic sound. Do you want to draw attention of the VR viewer to a certain location in the scene? Do you want more natural sound or will you be overdubbing additional .mp3 audio/music later? Can you hear and understand people talking?

By doing all of this work prior to shooting, the actual shoot day(s) will go much smoother. 360-degree shooting is no more difficult than normal filming, there’s just more variables to consider. And the earlier you consider those variables, the better your final VR experience will be.

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(Image Courtesy of Michael Wohl, Author of 360 Video Handbook)

3. Tips on Filming in 360°

Even if you’ve prepared extensively, your first 360-degree shoot is likely to be stressful. You’re working in a new medium, probably under a deadline, possibly with a crew that is seeing  a 360 camera for the first time. To minimize the stress, we suggest the following:

Overshoot, if Possible

Yes, purchasing and using a ton of SD cards is annoying. But you know what’s worse? Getting home and realizing you missed a shot you needed. Or having something unexpected on the footage, like people walking in front of the camera. (read Emporia State University’s interview about how that happened on their very first shoot)

So like with regular filming, it’s better to shoot more than you need, and then edit down later to the material you want to use in the final app.

Label Your SD Cards Properly

If you’re shooting a decent amount of material, you’ll be using a number of SD cards. For later organizational purposes, it’s best to properly label the SD cards as you take them out. It’s a small thing, but you’ll thank yourself later.

Just Because It’s 360 Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Need Coverage

There’s a belief amongst new 360 videographers that they don’t need to film coverage. They think because the camera is capturing the full 360-degree landscape, doing extra filming is not necessary. But sometimes differences in depth, or inability to capture audio, means you should definitely re-shoot scenes with new camera placement. If you can do multiple takes, do multiple takes.

Don’t Forget to Do Some Additional 2D Standard Photography for Hotspots, Icons, Splash Screens, etc

You’ll likely want to capture some additional 2D media, either using a standard camera or a phone. You can use these images or video to augment your VR experience with interactive hotspots. You’ll also likely use those images in the app icon, splash image, and splash video.

360-3

4. Organizing & Editing Your 360° Media Post Shoot

Prior to uploading and authoring your VR app using InstaVR, you’ll need to do a number of things with your shoot footage. Some of those things are obvious — ie stitching together images if you used a camera rig that doesn’t have in-camera stitching. But there are some more nuanced actions you have to take to make your media InstaVR-ready. We cover those below.

Edit Your Images/Videos (Using Software Like Adobe Premiere Pro)

There’s a number of reasons you’d want to edit your media prior to upload to InstaVR. For videos, you might want to condense the video length, reducing unnecessary footage. For images and video, you may want to edit out the tripod/monopod or camera person.

If you have access to Adobe Premiere Pro, I strongly suggest you read our guide on How to Create an App Easily With Adobe Premiere Pro.

Re-Name Files Making Them Easier to Identify

When exported from cameras, single files are often given unique but not informational file names. Prior to uploading to InstaVR, we strongly suggest re-naming these files to something recognizable. Last year we added a toggle feature between Pano Preview and Name, particularly to help clients with a bunch of 360s that look similar (ie rooms in a house). However, if you don’t use a good naming structure for your files, you’re only making Authoring in InstaVR more complicated for yourself.

Organize Your VR Projects Into Folders on Your Desktop

Our InstaVR File Manager allows you to upload files sequentially or by dragging a folder into the File Manager space. To expedite getting your project-specific media into the File Manager, it’s easiest to put it all in one folder on your desktop and drag it to the File Manager. Our cloud infrastructure can upload fairly quickly if you have a good Internet connection.

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(Image Courtesy of James Manttan of Dusk)

5. Conclusion

Doing your first 360 shoot can seem a little overwhelming at first. But it’s really not that hard. You just have to take a rational, prepared approach, that takes into account the things that make the media unique — a full 360-degree field of view, the ability to capture ambisonic sound, and a VR experience that will likely emanate from the viewer’s eye-level POV.

Also, feel free to jump on our weekly Thursday 10am EST training — https://join.me/instavrandrew. Besides showing all the features & functionality of InstaVR, we also discuss the overall process of VR experience creation, including filming. Thanks for using InstaVR and we can’t wait to see what VR projects you create!

Article reprinted by courtesy of InstaVR and with their permission.

Review: ProDAD Mercalli for Mac

By Chris Oaten

My bread and butter work is long-term construction time lapse. A key element of this work is a stable platform for the camera. The more stable the better. One of my cameras, for instance, is on an eight-metre high scaffold so rigid I’ve not needed to stabilise the video rendered from its thousands of still frames. That’s not, however, a luxury you can always enjoy. Sometimes, the only spot for a camera can’t support much in the way of sturdy rigging and you just know the only way to deal with the wobbles will be in post.

17__95572.1502811147.jpgNow, it’s worth noting that both Final Cut Pro and Premiere and After Effects are in my kit bag. However, I’d be happy to dump the Adobe apps from my Creative Cloud subscription and save on the subscription fee, especially as about the only time I fire them up is to stabilise video. Also, it’s a sledgehammer/walnut thing. If there’s a simpler way of doing it, I’m all for it.

Enter Mercalli SAL.

It does just one thing and, based on my first set of results it does it very well and, importantly, very simply. The interface is dead simple with a video preview window flanked by a Media Clips bin on the left and the Settings options to the right. Workflow is also simple. Import a clip, run the analysis, pick your stabilisation settings, apply and export.

mercalli-1.jpg

Settings include Pan Shot Smoothing, Roll-Balance, Avoid Border and Dynamic Scaling as sliders; two stabilisation profiles, one a universal and the other for action cams; and three options for stabilisation method being Best Stabilisation, Best Resolution and Fix Border. For the results I need to accomplish, the default settings get the job done. The result speaks for itself. In the video sample, you can see the building under construction is pretty solid after stabilisation. What I’ve found is that combining Mercalli with Final Cut Pro’s stabilisation really does the trick, with Mercalli doing a good job of fixing the worst of it and Final Cut Pro’s stabilisation really locking it down.

For fun and to push Mercalli SAL’s capability to an illogical extreme, I tried a handheld hyperlapse capture passing through and under architectural details in a manner that would send After Effects apoplectic. The result? Not great but surprisingly good. Indeed, sped up by 400%, the clip would be useful in an appropriate context, by which I mean of course not cut in with clips of exacting production value.

Complaints? Yeah. Mercalli SAL can’t smoothly preview 4K clips. Takes usually about three or four seconds before the video jams up, even though the playhead keeps tracking. Not a dealbreaker. Just annoying. Otherwise, no serious usability issues.

And is it better than Final Cut Pro’s stabilisation? Absolutely. Final Cut Pro has a nasty habit of drifting the image once it’s applied stabilisation, which would be OK if you could just check of the Tripod Mode option to lock the image in place. Except, for reasons I’ve never understood, that Tripod Mode option is sometimes simply not available, rendering the stabilisation useless.

In the end, what Mercalli SAL offers is a relatively low-cost package that achieves exactly what I need it to do with the minimum of fuss. It is available for USD$119 at www.prodad.com

Chris Oaten can be contacted at Insight Visuals via insightvisuals@me.com

 5 Ways to a Better Live Stream

Live streaming is the newest way to reach your audience, but it can be tricky. Do you know the best way to connect to the world? Do you want the best stream possible? By the end of this article, you will be empowered with a better understanding of what it takes to make it happen. Here are five ways to better your live stream.

  1. Use a dedicated camera. Ditch the camera on your phone. This will allow you to get better picture quality and opens a world of possibilities optically. You’ll also have more flexibility when it comes to composition. The nice thing is that it’s not hard to achieve. With the AJA U-TAP, you can feed the HDMI or SDI output from your camera to your computer. Use UTAP HDMI for HDMI cameras and U-TAP SDI for professional cameras. SDI is especially nice since it locks the cable from unplugging. It’s typically found on broadcast or cinema cameras.
  2. Use multiple cameras. Now that you’ve ditched the phone, more than one angle will give you a more dynamic stream. The extra cameras can cover just about anything and add production quality to your stream. Even simple choices like wide, medium and close up shots will enhance the viewing experience. With AJA’s Io 4K Plus and streaming software like Wirecast, vMix and others, you can connect up to four cameras across SDI for live switching, and it has TB3 and mobility. Or, add the KONA 4 PCIe Video I/O card and streaming software to a desktop workstation for a powerful dedicated setup.
  3. Keep it simple as you can. When it’s time to stream, there is nothing worse than having to stop and spend time fixing issues and staying organized. Keeping a simple set up will allow for maximum time creating and streaming content. With AJA’s U-TAP, you don’t have to worry about an extra power cord. It’s USB powered and there are no third party drivers as it recognized as a video input device by the operating system. All you need is the U-TAP, an HDMI or SDI cable to connect your camera and a USB cable to connect to your computer. Another AJA option is HELO, a standalone solution that lets you record, stream and deliver. It’s easy to record and use presets for CDNs, Facebook, or YouTube.
  4. Schedule your live stream. Having a reoccurring stream will grow your audience. There is a reason TV runs on a schedule; appointment viewing will gain you the most captivated audience. With AJA’s HELO, you can trigger a pre-planned start and stop time and import simple ICS files. It frees you up to start on time and on point.
  5. Be prepared. Set up your stream long before you go live. Don’t get caught flat footed when the platform you’re streaming to doesn’t work the same way it did last time. Set it up well before you plan to stream, so when it’s time to go live, you’ll be on when viewers expect you. With AJA’s HELO, you can use a USB connection and the browser-based UI to setup and configure your CDN connection before you even arrive at your event and can calibrate to the network bandwidth available. It has support for RTP/RTSP, RTMP and Unicast.

If you follow these simple steps, you’ll have a better stream. To learn more about the U-TAP, HELO and Io 4K Plus visit AJA’s website at www.AJA.com.