Saturday, April 30, 2016

Entaniya's Impossibly Wide Fisheye Lenses Help Filmmakers Deal with the Challenges of Using a 360 Rig

You've probably seen that 360-degree video of a re-enactment of a battle in 1941 by World of Tanks.

It's spectacular and looks like how I imagine Saving Private Ryan would look in 360.  Besides the special effects and tanks, the image quality is also impressive.  To shoot the video, they used a Freedom360 rig, which consists of six GoPro cameras.  While rigs cannot compete with consumer 360 cameras for price or convenience, rigs still produce the best image quality.  However, processing the footage can be labor-intensive.

 Tom's Hardware interviewed, the producers of World of Tanks, who are now working on a 360 video of the interior of a World War II battleship.  In the interview, Special Projects Lead Matt Daly gives an inside look on the challenges of filming with a rig.

With the Battleship video, they are trying to simplify the workflow with two new cameras.  One is a two-camera rig that uses modified GoPros equipped with 220-degree lenses by Entaniya.

By using only two cameras, they were able to cut the workflow by about half, compared to a 6-camera rig.

The other camera they used was a modified GoPro with a 280-degree Entaniya fisheye lens (!)

Although the resulting video is not fully spherical, it is much easier to work with because there is no stitching involved.  Moreover, it can be used to avoid having the cameraman in the image.

Here is a sample from the Entaniya 280-degree lens (thanks to David Grass for sending me the link and giving me info about Entaniya).

I'm looking forward to seeing the Battleship VR video with the new cameras equipped with Entaniya lenses.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Adorama limits preorders of Samsung Gear 360

Adorama had been the only US retailer allowing preorders for the highly-anticipated Samsung Gear 360.  Now, the option to preorder it has disappeared from their site.  Instead, Adorama will only allow preorders in-store.

For related posts on the Samsung Gear 360, click here or on one of the labels/tags below the sharing buttons.

HugVR livestreaming app now available

HugVR, a 360 livestreaming service, has now released an iOS app called Hug 360 Live. 

The Hug app allows people to view a livestream from the HugVR website.

HugVR enables you to livestream in 360 with a Ricoh Theta S or the Kodak SP360 4k.  The app makes it easier for viewers to watch the livestream and send comments.

Samsung Gear 360 sample videos

While we're still waiting for the Samsung Gear 360 to be released in the US, check out these sample videos to whet your appetite!  I've also included an unboxing video and some promo videos from Samsung.

Note: The videos are in no particular order.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Orah 4i sample livestream uploaded

Orah now has a sample livestream on YouTube.  It was a livestream of keynotes from SVVR (Silicon Valley Virtual Reality).

What do you think of the image quality?

Special thanks to David Grass for spotting this!

Amkov AMK100 now available on eBay

The Amkov AMK100 (previewed here) is now showing up on eBay, with prices ranging from around $105 to $140.  Note: Some include the waterproof case, and others don't.

Note also that despite some showing a 4k logo on their ad, this camera is not known to be capable of 4k video (to my knowledge, it maxes out at 1440p at 30fps).

I don't plan to get an Amkov but I ordered an X360 camera which should be arriving in a few days, and I will post sample images and view from that one.  For related posts on low-cost cameras, click here or on one of the labels/tags below the sharing buttons.

New Accessory for Ricoh Theta: TE-1 extension adapter

Ricoh will be producing a new accessory for the Ricoh Theta -- the TE-1 extension adapter.  The extension adapter is designed to allow you to use the Ricoh Theta on a tripod while using the USB or HDMI port.  This would make it more convenient to use the Theta while livestreaming or transferring photos to your computer, for example.

The TE-1 will be available starting May 13.

Samsung Gear 360's April 29 Launch Date is Only for Korea and Singapore

​Samsung clarified that its April 29 launch date is only for Korea and Singapore.  It does not include the US.  No confirmation yet on the price and availability in the US.

Expect to see some gray market units on eBay and Amazon resellers.

For related posts on the Samsung Gear 360, click here, or on one of the labels/tags below the sharing buttons.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Samsung AMe is a 360-degree camera necklace

It's only a concept for now, but this could be the ultimate camera for lifeloggers.

The Samsung AMe (short for "Around Me") is a 360-degree camera that is design to be worn as a necklace, so that it can capture video from "your" point of view.  Unlike other 360-dagree cameras, the AMe is comprised of three separate cameras.  The images from the cameras are stitched together via an app.  The resulting 360 video has 4k resolution.

Its designers say that the unobtrusive appearance will allow for more candid images.

Here is the official site.

Eloam SYL668 compact 360 camera has 4k video

The Eloam SYL668 is a hemispherical 360 camera that features 4k video at 15fps and 1080 video at 60fps.

- The lens has a field of view of 360 x 240​
- Video resolution: 4k @ 15 fps, 1080 @ 60 fps, or 720 @ 120fps
- Photo resolution is unknown at this time.
- Uses removable Micro SD cards up to 32GB
- Battery life is 1 hour.  Battery appears removable
- Can be controlled with an iOS or Android phone

It is available in several colors: white, black, pink, blue, and yellow.

Here is the official website.

For other low-cost 360 cameras, click here or on the label/tag below the sharing buttons.

Samsung Gear 360 Now Released in Korea; Unboxing Video

Samsung has begun shipping the Samsung Gear 360 to those who preordered it.  This is ahead of the announced April 29 release date.  Mike Cane (of Atomic Supermen blog) spotted this unboxing video, where it is shown side-by-side with the Kodak SP360 4k dual pro pack:

Meanwhile, in the US, the only retailer accepting preorders at this time is Adorama.

For related posts on the Samsung Gear 360, click here, or on the label/tag below (below the sharing buttons).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ricoh Theta firmware updated; Apple Watch app added

Ricoh issued a firmware update for the Theta S, version 1.50.  Ricoh only described the update as a "bug fix," without further explanation.

Ricoh also added an Apple Watch app that would allow using the Apple Watch as a remote shutter, and as a way of switching modes between photo and video.

What happens when a Ricoh Theta falls almost 300 feet...

It's quite possibly a 360-degree camera's worst nightmare.

Bryan Cacciatore, a photographer in Toronto, wanted to take aerial 360 degree photos, so he attached his Ricoh Theta to his DJI Phantom 3 Pro.  He attached a tripod screw with a lanyard hook to his Theta, then used garden twist ties to secure the lanyard to a 3D-printed gimbal guard between the landing gear of his Phantom. 

Unfortunately, the vibration of the drone eventually loosened the twist ties, and his Theta fell 90 meters / 270 feet into a field below.  When he pointed his Phantom camera straight down, he realized that the Theta was gone and he immediately landed the drone to search for his Theta. 

After spending hours looking for it, he could not find it.  He decided to post on a Facebook bartering group called Bunz. 

To his surprise, he was contacted by a woman who knew a girl who found the camera.  Although he had offered a reward, the girl declined it.  He nonetheless gave some toys to the little girl and a bottle of wine to the lady who put them in them in touch.

Here's the shocker: he tried out the Theta and it still works!  It had a "couple of nicks" at the top of the lens but otherwise appeared undamaged.  But I hope Bryan will forgive me if I decide not to buy a gently used Theta from him.

Here's one of the images Bryan took from the air:
Post from RICOH THETA. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Here is the link to the story from Brian and local news.

Giroptic's waterproof 360 Cam now shipping

​Giroptic's 360 Cam is now shipping to those who have preordered it, and also appears to be in stock on Giroptic's website.

Here are its key features:
  • 3 lenses with a 360 x 300 field of view
  • Photo resolution: 4096 x 2048 (jpg)
  • Video resolution: 2048 x 1024 resolution, 25/30fps, h.264 .mp4 format
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Waterproof to IPX8 (30 feet / 10 meters for 30 minutes)
  • Battery life: 1 hour in video mode
  • built-in Wi-Fi and GPS
  • self-timer
  • HDR
  • time lapse
  • burst mode (3 fps)
  • live stream (requires accessory)
Here are sample photos and videos.  The included desktop software will allow you to customize the nadir.

The 360 Cam is one of the few 360 cameras that are waterproof, and it has a larger field of view than hemispherical 360 action cameras such as the 360Fly 4k and Kodak SP360 4k.

Its Lithium-ion battery is removable, and you can buy additional batteries ($39) for extended capture sessions.

The 360 Cam also has livestreaming.  To use the livestreaming feature, you need either a lightbulb adapter ($79) or an Ethernet adapter ($279).  Once attached, the 360 Cam can live stream via Wi-Fi to a smartphone or desktop.

The Giroptic 360 Cam is available for $499, which is the same price as the 360Fly 4k and Kodak SP360 4k.

Sunchip Panorama XDV360: Cheapest 4k 360 camera?

Sunchip, an OEM based in Shenzhen has a single-lens hemispherical 360 camera called the Panorama XDV360 camera, which its representative claims can capture 4k @ 30fps, at an unbelievable price.  But is there a catch?

Monday, April 25, 2016

New 360 VR videos on Jaunt

Jaunt added three new videos, including a live-action comedy.

1. Invasion
Invasion is a charming animated 3D 360-degree video from the creators of Madagascar. I thought it made great use of VR. It's also available on Verse.

2. Campfire Tale
Campfire Tale is a short story that is somewhat in the style of an episode from Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, or Spielberg's Amazing Stories.  It is in 3D 360. The story is ok although I think the use of VR was uninspired.

3. Teleportaled
Teleportaled is a short 360-degree live-action scifi/comedy. Although it is not 3D, I thought it made good use of VR.

As with other videos in Jaunt, they are free and can be viewed with or without a Google Cardboard viewer.

Monoshot: a more stable selfie stick / tripod for 360 cameras

Do you use a selfie stick for your 360-degree camera, but wish it could have more stability?  Check out the Monoshot, a modular selfie stick / monopod / tripod with extendable legs.

Selfie sticks have been derided as an accessory for amateurs and narcissists.  However, for 360-degree cameras, they are a legitimate tool.  Among other things, using a selfie stick or monopod allows you to avoid looking like you have giant thumbs or giant hands.  They also help you take the shot from a higher vantage point.  Selfie sticks that have tripod legs are even more useful, because they can take the shot while the 360 photographer moves out of the way.

One issue with conventional selfie stick tripods is that they are not very stable.  This can result your camera swaying and getting the shot blurred, or worse, the camera falling.


The monoshot is a selfie stick / monopod / tripod with some key features that are useful to 360-degree photographers:

- The legs are extendable, which can increase the base, and thus the stability.
- The angle of the legs can be made wider (as in the shot above), further increasing the base and the stability.
- Has a spike attachment for soft surfaces such as grass or sand.
- Longer / taller than most selfie stick tripods (extends to 5.9 feet).
- The legs are detachable so that you can use the selfie stick / monopod by itself if you don't need to use it as a tripod.
- The detachable legs can be used with your camera as a mini tripod (see below).

Here are the dimensions of the monoshot:
Weight: 1.9 lbs /.9 kilos
Folded Length: 19.5 inches
Expanded Length: 5.9 feet

The Monoshot is currently $59 with free shipping in the US.  There is a 10% discount coupon (TAKE10), or a 25% discount if you order 2 or more (BLACKFRIDAY).

I ordered one (with my own money, on the same terms as everyone else) and will post a review when I receive it.

More pricing info re Adorama preorders for Samsung Gear 360

Last week, I posted the news that Adorama has become the first (and thus far still the only) retailer in the US to accept preorders for Samsung Gear 360


However, one issue of concern was the price.  Adorama posted a price of $399.99 for the Gear 360.  That was also the price listed by B&H a few months ago, and in my opinion, at that price it would still be a pretty good deal as the lowest cost 4k* 360 camera, undercutting the Insta360 4k ($599), Kodak SP360 4k ($899 dual pro pack, $499 single unit), and 360fly 4k ($499). 
*4k resolution is 3840 x 2160.  However, 360 videos are formatted in a 2:1 ratio.  Therefore a "4k" 360 video would have a resolution of 3840 x 1920, which is the video resolution of the Samsung Gear 360.

However, B&H later showed a reduced price of $350.  That is the same price that it is being offered in Korea (and at that price, it sold out within minutes).  It is therefore credible that the US price will also be $350.

However, Adorama listed a price of $399.99.  Does that mean that you'll have to pay a $50 premium for the Gear 360 if you want to preorder from Adorama?


I inquired with Adorama about their pricing policy:
1. If the final price turns out to be lower, will you automatically reduce the cost for those who preordered?
2.  If the final price turns out to be higher, what would happen to the order?

Here's their response:

"Thank you for your inquiry about our product pricing.

Please be advised that we have a price drop policy within 30 days from the order date. If there is a price increase, there will be no changes for existing orders that have the previous price.

Thank you for shopping with us we appreciate your business."

In other words, if you preordered at $399 but it turns out that their final price is $350, you can get a price match and the price would be reduced.  To be safe, you should not assume this is automatic -- instead, you should request it.

If the final price turns out to be more than $399, Adorama would still honor the $399 price and you'll get a discount.

To find related posts on the Samsung Gear 360, use the search bar on the upper right corner, or click on the Gear 360 tag/label (below the sharing buttons).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

PSA: Coachella livestream today

Just a reminder that Coachella 2016 will be livestreamed in 360 today at 2:30 Pacific Time!