Friday, April 15, 2016

Bendable Camera Can Take 360-Degree Photos

Engineers at Columbia University have designed and created a bendable camera, which among other things, can take 360-degree photos.  The camera is actually an array of small lenses and sensors.  What makes the camera work is that the lens is made of a flexible material, so that when the array is bent, the flexible lens matches its focal length to the curvature of the array.

One way the camera can be used is to wrap it around a cylindrical object such as a light pole.  When so wrapped, the camera can capture an image from all directions, i.e., a 360-degree photo.

Here is the official website, and here is a video explaining the camera:

Rumor: Nikon Keymission 360 price estimated between 700 to 800 Euros

Not yet verified but I'm leaving this here:

A closer look at 4k 360-degree livestreaming with Insta360 4k

The recently-announced Orah 4i drew a lot of attention for its 4k 360-degree livestream capability.  But did you know that it is not the only camera to be capable of 360 livestreaming in 4k?  The Insta360 4k is one other camera that can do that as well.  I spoke to Bianca Zhang, Insta360's Marketing Manager to inquire further about their camera's livestreaming capabilities.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

LG 360 Cam now shipping

The LG 360 Cam is now shipping at Verizon Wireless.

Here are related posts on the LG 360 Cam, or please click on the label / tag below.

Edit 360 Videos with 360VR Toolbox

One of the challenges ​for producing 360-degree content, especially 360 videos, is the dearth of editing tools.  Dashwood has created the 360VR Toolbox, a plugin for Adobe's Premiere Pro and After Effects, and Apple's Motion and Final Cut Pro.

The plugin gives authors several useful tools for 360 videos:
- output 360 degree videos into 2D or 3D
- reorient equirectangular sources on x, y, z axis to level the horizon or align scenes
- place 2d elements (such as logos) on the 360 video; use with After Effects' clone stamp to clone out the tripod
- view results with Oculus in realtime.

The 360VR Toolbox is currently in public beta, during which you can download a trial version, which is functional but will add a watermark.

Meanwhile, a few other apps are beginning to support 360 video editing.  Adobe Premiere Pro will add a VR workflow "later this year."  The Samsung Gear 360 and Vuze Camera will include their own full-featured video editing software.

Vuze, the first 3D 360-degree 4k camera, now available for pre-order!

The buzz over the last couple of days has been about Facebook's Surround 360 camera, which takes 360-degree videos in 3D with 8k resolution.  But it is huge and costs an eye-watering $30,000.  Fortunately, 360 3D capture is not beyond consumers' reach.  The Vuze Camera captures 360-degree videos in 3D with 4k resolution, is compact, and costs under $1,000, and it is now available for preorder.
​When the Vuze was first announced, they said the price would be "under $1,000."  That's not chump change but it's a fraction of the cost of other 360-degree 3D cameras such as the Surround 360, or the GoPro Odyssey / Google Jump ($15,000).  The good news is that preorders for the Vuze will cost only $799, including the Vuze Studio software, the Homido-designed VR headset, and the VR Minipod (tripod / selfie-stick).  Here is the preorder link.

If you're interested, I would not wait too long.  Why?  First, more than 10,000 people have already signed up for Vuze's website.  Unless you already signed up, they found out about the preorder before you did. 

Second, preorders actually began yesterday (April 13, 9am Pacific Time).  Vuze requested that I hold off on announcing the preorder, to give the registered users a headstart.  To be fair, I had implored you guys on this blog and on Twitter to sign up on their site to avoid missing out on the preorder... 

If you haven't yet and you're interested, I suggest you sign up and check the box to receive notices and special offers.  I would also suggest following them on Twitter and Facebook.  Lastly, if you do get an email from Vuze, I suggest you read it carefully so you don't miss out on important details. ;-)

Vuze orders will ship October 2016, although they will ship in the order that they receive orders.  I ordered one too and will post a review when I get it.

In the meantime, check out these related posts, including sample 3D 360 videos from the Vuze.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

360 video editing coming to Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe announced that they will be adding a "VR workflow" to Adobe Premiere Pro.  You will be able to import 360 videos in equirectangular format, then use "VR Video" mode to see the image as it would be seen on a 360-degree video viewer.  Premiere Pro will also automatically add metadata so that viewers can recognize the video as a 360-degree video.

Adobe said these and other new features will be available to Creative Cloud subscribers "later this year."

Hopefully, Adobe will also eventually add support for 3D 360-degree video, and that 360-degree workflows make their way to Photoshop and Lightroom, and maybe even the entry-level Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements.

Official announcement here.

Camera Availability Directory (updated April 13, 2016)

Here is an updated list of 360-degree cameras, including their prices, availability, and basic specifications.  Note: the screenshot above is just that - a screenshot.  To view the data, pls. follow the link.

Although I have included a few rigs, generally I have not attempted to include all rigs of which there are many. I also did not include security cameras or webcam-only cameras.

Oculus demos virtual selfie

At the F8 Facebook Developer Conference, Oculus demoed a new way to interact with 360-degree photos. In the demo, an Oculus user can virtually enter a 360-degree photo along with a friend. While "inside" the photo, they can take selfies with virtual selfie sticks.  Here what it will look like.

Although VR and 360 images are usually viewed by only one user, the demo shows one way 360 photos can be enjoyed socially.

Stay tuned for a huge announcement tomorrow!

There will be a very exciting camera-related announcement tomorrow!  You really wouldn't want to miss out on it!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Smoovie: An Inexpensive Stabilizer for 360 Cameras?

If you've seen videos from consumer 360 cameras, you'll probably notice the jittering from camera shake.  However, there's an image stabilizer that just launched on Kickstarter called Smoovie that may also work with some 360 cameras.

Ricoh announces winners of Second Instagram Contest

Ricoh announced the winners of the Second Instagram Contest

Ricoh will post the winning photos starting tomorrow.

Virtual tour of Rembrandt's house

You can take a virtual tour of Rembrandt's house, which is now a museum in the center of Amsterdam. Apropos to Rembrandt's style, the photos make use of dramatic chiaroscuro.   Here is the link.

Facebook Surround 360 captures 3D 360 Video in 8k

Facebook announced their Surround 360 camera, which can capture 360-degree video in 3D and with 8k resolution. 

The Surround 360 uses 17 cameras - 14 arranged radially on a single plane, one camera aimed upward and two aimed downward. 

Facebook is not selling the camera and instead wants to release the designs as open-source. Facebook said it cost $30,000 to buy the materials for the camera. 

For consumers interested in a 360-degree 3D camera, FYI the Vuze Camera, which captures 3D 360 videos in 4k, will soon be available for preorder, and it fortunately will cost only a fraction of the Surround 360.

6 Tips for 360 Videography

360-degree videos can be powerfully immersive, but they also pose unique challenges for filmmakers.  Chris Lavigne from Wistia, an internet video hosting and analytics company, posted an article with 6 tips on making 360-degree videos here.  Some of the tips can also apply to 360-degree photography, such as:
  • Choosing the subject-to-camera distance.
  • Choosing the height of the camera. 
  • Working with the ultrawide angle lens of 360-degree cameras, and being aware of blindspots and stitching points.
  • Lighting with ambient light
360 videos add even more challenges, such as audio, directing, and video editing.

Check out the article for details on these tips.

Monday, April 11, 2016

A compact, low-cost 360-degree sports camera

AMK100S is a low-cost hemispherical 360-degree camera from Amkov with high resolution video.  It is marketed as a sports camera and comes with a waterproof enclosure that works up to 30m.  Amkov also notes the small size and suggests usage as a drone camera.

DETU Sphere 800 low-cost 360-degree camera

The DETU Sphere 800 is a low-cost 360-degree camera with one hemispherical lens, with a vertical coverage of 236 degrees.

The resolution is 8 megapixels, with video at 1080p at 30fps.  DETU claims the sensor is an EXMOR sensor, which if true would be a Sony sensor.  DETU claims the Sphere 800 is capable of live streaming via HDMI.

They have an iOS and an Android app available for controlling the camera.

There are samples of the Sphere 800 on their website here.  Here is one of them:

If the embed doesn't work, here is a link.

The sharpness is higher than I expected for a low-cost camera, even at the edges of the lens.

It is available on Amazon for under $150 (at the time of this writing), although there is another listing rebranded as JoyPlus with a price of $200.

DETU also has a 8k and 4k capable 360 camera called the F4.  DETU appears to be working on a third 360-degree camera, to be called the Twin360, with a design similar to the Ricoh Theta.

360 camera with 8k 24fps and 4k 60 fps

The DETU F4 is a 360-degree camera that is claimed to be capable of 8k at 24fps or 4k 60 fps.  It uses four lenses and sensors, in a box-like body that weighs 670g.

Other specifications:
- fully spherical, 360 x 360 coverage
- resolution: 8k (7680 x 3840) at 24fps or 4k (3840 x 1920) at 60 fps
- uses 4 memory cards up to 64GB each
- can record up to 250 minutes at 8k
- cost is 9,699 yuan, or approximately US$1,500.

There are samples on their website, but their downloading speed seems to be preventing me from viewing a higher resolution.