360° spherical has been a fascination of mine for several years now. I was initially introduced to the concept with street view Google Earth. About 3 years ago a Kick starter company had a small booth introducing their tiny camera for 360 degree video. The GoPro system was the only other thing out but it was very expensive and very difficult to manage the stitching of all the cameras. The KS company Giroptic360 solved these problems with modern 120 degree camera lenses, HD sensors, and firmware that handled the stitching with 99% perfection internally. It also resolved the auto stereo ( L+R) audio from 3 mics that would auto switch to 2 channels in playback from any direction. Finally the price was said to be under $500. So I signed up to be one of the first to receive a camera after the investors got theirs. In November I finally received one from their 3rd attempt at a production run. It's already had one firmware upgrade to improve image color saturation. It still is not quite the image quality of a high end GoPro 4 Black but the stitching offers far superior geometry distortion as opposed to the GoPro Hero 4B.
My first attempt at shooting was in November with a walk around a cruise ship tour. I learned quite a bit from that first run. To shoot 360° video requires a whole new way of thinking about what's on the screen. With this new format, you give up control of what is in view of your audience as they will be able to see everything in the world at the time of shooting.
While editing can be done in any NLE that can configure to custom AR ( The Giroptic 360 frame is squeezed into 2048 x 1024 ). Only the bottom is blocked by a circle that masks the camera support. Giroptic allows the user to install any image that will be cropped to a circle that you wish.
Shooting a walk around is subject to camera shake and wobble as with any camera but they have a built in IS that works to a very limited degree. In this respect, a tripod of dolly is still old technology that comes to the rescue. I have also experimented with a 3 axis motorized gimbal and that works great except the motors are slightly visible beyond the bottom mask circle.
Christmas day, I set up the Giroptic 360 on a tripod to record our day with the family.
The family was able to view and control the VR because both You Tube and Facebook has their video player compatible with 360 spherical video.
Here is the long version from my YT channel:
You don't need to do anything but only YT apps that are on the computer or on iphone seem to work. The apps I have on my media player a Blue Ray disk player does not support 360 VR yet.
If you upload raw Giroptic360 camera video to YT or FB it will work fine. However if you edit the video in a NLE, it will strip out the meta data that is required to tell the YT players that your video is a 360 spherical. So after editing, you will need to insert the meta data back into your MP4 rendered file. You don't need to write the code yourself, there are tools to do it for you. It just requires one additional step before uploading. I suspect YT will eventually add that to their "processing" one day with a check box in the advanced upload screen just as they do for 3D.
Editing is a minor challenge in that the 2x1 AR image containing 3 camera views and the mask image, cannot be edited in the traditional sense. But you can cut out all three POV's and but edit them to remove bad stuff. A dissolve also works as opposed to a cut. I haven't tried wipe transitions yet but cuts work without bizarre side effects. One bizarre side effect of a dissolve is that the background will remain and people will appear and disappear like the Rapture stories or Star Trek Transporter. You can see this in my Christmas day video that is a documentary of a day long about 90 minutes of raw clips.
Adding titles and 2D images to the video is also a challenge. I know of only one plugin app that can do it and it only works with Adobe After Effects. The software is needed to warp the text or 2D image according to the lens spherical distortion of the camera and modify the warpage depending on where you wish to place the text. Presently I have no way to add a logo or a title to my videos except to shoot it with the Giroptic and then key it into the background layer. This would require some green screen setup in a 360 circle stage and a lot of fancy planning. So, presently I will wait for the software to come out. Right now if I really wanted to put a title in my video, it can only be done using the Giroptic studio software, in the little circle mask. I have done this in the video. Just pan down to the bottom to see the inserted graphic with text. The down side is you need to add the title to the camera PRIOR to your shoot.
Let me know what you guys think.
One more thing, you don't need Google cardboard to have a VR with your iphone YT app you can just hold the phone up in front of you like the Google cardboard would do and then move around that the image on the screen will pan around based on the phone orientation in the space where you are viewing. It is like it knows whether you are facing the same direction as I originally shot it.