360º Photography

A 360º panoramaic photo looking outwards from the top of Mount Eden.

I’ve had a long time fascination with 360º photography. Around the turn of the millennium I was experimenting with 360º panoramas or QTVR’s (QuickTime Virtual Reality) both digitally rendered and by taking multiple images on a SLR and ‘stiching’ them together. In fact if you where in my CAD classes back then you would have created a interactive QTVR to explore a CAD model. The technology stagnated for a while although the film Industry was using HDR (high dynamic range) light domes (ie a 360º image instead of panorama) to illuminate rendered components of a composited scene. In 2011 I posted this article about a dutch company that produced a 360º video, absolutely ground breaking at the time, but again the tech developed v. slowly (or at least in the public sector) but in the last couple of years it’s exploded. No longer do you have to hack together a bunch of cameras and painfully stich it together, you can buy a 360º camera off the shelf that does all the hard work for you and then edit it in your favourite editing software. So what is it and how can we use these images?

The film/TV production industry is now very active producing 360degree content esp for web delivery, in fact due to the release of consumer oriented cameras like the Nikon KeyMission 360, Samsung 360 Gear, or the GoPro Fusion (theres way more too, but I’m sure you know how to use google) theres loads of content being created by the general public. If you take a look at YouTube you’ll find plenty of 360º video. Ideally you want to do this on a mobile device via a [cheap] headset like google cardboard or similar however it does work on a desktop, but you’ll have to use your mouse to ‘look’ around (nb, you may find some 3D content out there, this will only work via a head set). While were on the subject of google cardboard, the app developers are also busy creating loads of VR programs to use on your mobile, just check your phones app store. If your not keen on buying a dedicated 360º camera you can create still images with an app on your mobile (check out this post).

The Gaming industry is also getting right into it, esp as the popularity of VR headsets grow. I’ll no doubt post something specifically about AR/VR/VR headsets in the future however to get you started; Playstation have released a VR headset for the PS4 and the desktop market has several platforms too (Vive, Oculus and then theres the Windows MR headsets). There are programs for viewing 360º content however 360º images and video can and do get used within applications.

Anyway, I’ll leave it there, hopefully thats sent you down a google wormhole full of 360 degree content. Till later,

Z.

 

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