I decided that after a week of somewhat lethargy, this Sunday would be a good time to have a crack at this virtual reality thing. The tools I intended to use were my 360Fly camera shooting in HD on the online VR system called InstaVR.
And that’s where the frustration started.
With all due respect 360Fly people, the documentation is terrible. And the software just doesn’t seem to do what it’s supposed to do, so you need to hunt around a bit and work out things such as file types, file sizes and other such esoterica to get everything just right that a third-party application needs. It’s OK if you simply want to send relatively simple files to Facebook or YouTube say, but for serious authoring, the 360Fly Director software needs a rethink and remake in my opinion.
Because of the size of VR files you can spend a lot of time uploading to the InstaVR system to find out that the type you just made is not accepted or does not work the way you think it should.
As it turns out, what you need to do is to capture your footage and then get it into the 360Fly software. After much mucking around with their import system I decided to bypass this altogether and do the good old drag and drop from the Windows Explorer directly into their importer and that worked a charm.
As mentioned, I then tried to import these directly into the InstaVR system as an MP4 file, but InstaVR simply refused to see them in their importing system. That is to say that their file manager would import but once there, the authoring system showed a blank screen.
You need to go back one step in the 360Fly software to convert the files from the native MP4 that it uses (which are spherical 360 images) into mono stereo equirectangular images. Depending on your image size this could take a little while. Once done, you can then import them into the InstaVR file manager. These can then be successfully drawn into the authoring section and they display correctly.
You may need to change the “Panorama” format by the way. The default is 360 degree mono spherical equirectangular, and this worked for me.
Next, the actual authoring, and as you can see from the screen shot, there are numerous options to come to grips with apart from the Panorama format.
In part 2, I’ll go through these.