Is 2014 the year of the 360º Immersive Video revolution? Check out some of the front-runners.

A little preamble….Danfung Dennis became famous for his documentary “Hell and back Again” which won both the World Cinema Jury Award and World Cinema Cinematography Award at 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award in 2012.

After the theatrical release of the movie Dennis founded a company “Condition One” which developed an Immersive 360° Video App for the iPad and iPhone. I remember downloading the App and being impressed with the fact that you were moving through space in realtime but could effectively pan the camera around to explore the scene. It reminded me of a ride at the Epcot centre many years ago which had a 360° fly through of Thailand from the air. The last I heard Dennis was working on 360° camera to contribute to his platform.

Over the last 10 years Nicholas Woodman, Founder of Woodman Labs – the makers of GoPro has been iterating a robust, wearable camera that can shoot HD video and HiRes photographs. In fact if you haven’t heard of Gopro then I would struggle to know how you ended up on this blog!. Woodman is now a billionaire after FoxxConn invested over $200million in the company.  Click here for a really great interactive timeline from Forbes.com of the evolution of Gopro from 2011 and here for the feature story

While the recent release of the GoPro Hero3+ was met with some mixed reaction, GoPro is still the market leader for wearable cameras. But, I’ve noticed in the last 12 months that there are several new 360° Video cameras appearing with their own viewer software and they may well steal a little Gopro thunder in 2014. Thats if GoPro don’t drop a Hero 360° this year! Of course theres already a couple of versions of this available (sort of) : http://www.360heros.com  http://freedom360.us

Here are the ones on my watch list.

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 22.31.18

1. Geonaute (Photo and Video)

Retail Price: €399 (Pre-Launch offer) Launch date TBC – Sign up for info on their website or Follow them on Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 22.36.44

 2. Bublcam (Photo, Video 720p/30fps 1080p/15fps, Live streaming)

Retail Price $579 Expected ship date June 2014  Pre-Order now on their website or Follow them on Twitter

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 23.06.43

3. Panono (photo only)

The Panono is currently part of a crowd-funding project on Indiegogo Price and release date to be confirmed but it has already reached its funding goal. For updates follow them on Twitter

squito-ball-camera-by-serveball

4. Squito Serveball (Photo/Video)

The Serveball is currently in development by its inventor Steve Hollinger. No shipping date as yet.

gopano-micro-3-500x272_large

5. GoPano

You can record 360° Immersive video on your iPhone using the GoPano attachment. Obviously the overall resolution is substantially lower than that of multiple cameras stitched together but if you want to shoot on a shoestring this will be a good starting point.

imc_dodeca_2360_camera

At the other end of the spectrum is a company immersivemedia.com who have several 360° cameras available with one suggested price being in excess of $20,000! Expensive to say the least and I doubt these guys will be happy if any of the above, particularly a 360° Gopro hit the market. Check out one of their demo videos: http://im360.immersivemedia.com/watch/?s=592 Follow them on Twitter

At the end of the day these 360° video platforms will live or die by the effectiveness and ease of use of their respective viewer Apps. While most support options to upload to the respective companies website into special viewer software, (which is embeddable) or alternatively to view the 360° video via a dedicated smartphone or tablet App, I think it would be very interesting if some of them developed a viewer  that works with the Oculus Rift which I mentioned in a blog post recently that truly would be IMMERSIVE.

OculusRift1

A final thought…If it becomes possible to live stream the 360° video to a widely supported viewer like Quicktime then the current trend for Radio stations to video live stream their radio studio output could get very interesting. In effect the audience could become the director of their very own show choosing which direction to look or which presenter/guest to watch. Fun times ahead!

About vjmentor
Innovation Lead, RTÉ | VJ & MoJo (Mobile Journalism) Trainer -Circom Regional | Photographer | HDSLR shooter| Views are strictly personal, not those of my employer.

16 Responses to Is 2014 the year of the 360º Immersive Video revolution? Check out some of the front-runners.

  1. Dinko Cepak says:

    There is a way to livestream GoPano…you can fint some Italian theatre that have done this…
    I have tried to convince ppl @ HRT to tryout GoPano year ago but they showed no interest…

    https://www.gopano.com/video/MTQ2MDM

    BTW you have BubbleScope for iPhone also

  2. Fascinating and insightful post as always, Glen. There’s a 360 degree smartphone photo/video device that I’ve been following for the last year or so that might merit mention here too, particularly as there have already been some interesting and tantalising examples of mobile journalism and immersive video in action using it.

    The BubbleScope (https://bubblepix.com/en) is an cheap (around £50 I think) 360 degree device that attaches to smartphones (iPhones plus some Androids) and looks to be along the lines of the GoPano you mention here.

    The quality of the resulting video is on the low-side but it’s very intriguing nonetheless. For example, here’s a pop video shot in a pub garden, enabling the viewer to scroll around and focus on the instrument/action of their choice >> https://bubblepix.com/en/bubbles/165. And here’s an example of 360 degree mobile journalism, following a BBC reporter around the recent floods in Malmesbury, England, again giving the viewer freedom to view the unfolding devastation, the BBC reporter or the interviewee >> https://bubblepix.com/en/bubbles/1130

  3. Dinko says:

    And new thing just showed…2k for 400€

    http://www.geonaute.com/?___store=en&___from_store=fr

  4. Great write up, Glen! 360º video has come a long way since I started with IM Dodeca camera (shown above) 10 years ago as one of Immersive Media’s first employees. That was before we could even put this content on the internet (pre-Flash 8).

    David correctly points out above that quality is what divides the options currently available for shooting 360º video. There are easy to use, but low quality, one lens option for mobile devices like GoPano (first) and Kogeto’s Dot (both started from established one shot VR companies on Kickstarter).

    The Ladybug 2,3, & 5 cameras from Point Grey Research have been the industry standard for several years for professional projects due to reliability and ease of use (if bulky). The downside to these cameras has been the rather extreme cost and need to be wired to a laptop to record. In the last year, 360Heros and the Freedom360 have used the power of 3D printing to bring forth off-the-shelf & untethered solutions. I worked with 360Heros on the Beck 360º Experience (hellobeck.com) last year using 18 GoPros from Best Buy on three precision-printed pieces of plastic. The project won 2 Webby Awards. A third Webby was won with 360º BASE jumping video for Best Home Page on VisitNorway.com.

    Recent developments in 360º video stitching software is what is blowing up the field today, that and the low barrier to entry provided by GoPro and 3D printing. Software from Kolor and VideoStitch use high powered graphics cards designed for advanced video gaming to stitch thousands of frames per minute (GPU processing).

    What makes this THE time for 360º is the proliferation of mobile platforms. Using gyroscopes and motion navigation to look around is absolutely intuitive and, yes, Oculus Rift will take it even further. I used to send my mother links to projects I did with whales and National Geographic, and she would get lost trying click and drag. Handing her an iPad that moves when she moves it, she gets it immediately, because it’s like she’s there.

    Projects like Bubl and Panono certainly have everyone’s attention and may represent another big step forward for our little 360º video medium, but more likely, they will find more traction with the one shot 360º still image platforms like Google Views and among Google Trusted Photographers shooting StreetView inside of businesses (my day job).

    For 360º video professionals, we are loving the GoPro solution for the same reasons everyone is loving GoPros. They are tough as nails, small as can be, amazingly high resolutions, and dead simple to use. When you are operating six to twelve to eighteen of them at a time, that last one really helps.

    Here’s a 360º shot of shooting 360º video on a project on a mountain: Can you spot the GoPros? – https://www.google.com/maps/views/view/115060585505885733799/photo/4H0Io9dYfR0AAAQIuBaR1Q

    Check out the new app from Freedom360 – http://freedom360.eu/360-video-player/
    Here’s one with more content from Making View & RedBull – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/making-view/id694591644

    Here’s my favorite 360º video currently – Diving in Micronesia with 30 sharks – http://macdonald.360heros.com/360video/2013-YAP-Sharks/index.html

    • vjmentor says:

      Hey Thomas thanks so much for your comments, feedback, and excellent industry insight. Very much appreciated. Whats your opinion of the Geonaute?

      • I’m skeptical primarily because they put on such a great show last year, too, but no news all year. The marketing is fantastic. I just got the app for iOS and it’s good. The resolution seems natively high enough, and it’s ease of use may very well win the day. Being untethered is a big part of the puzzle and they clearly show that it’s versatile. I wonder what happens when I drop it, though? If I’m on the trip (or the project) of a life time, and my camera system goes down, what are my options? A couple of extra GoPros, batteries, & microSD cards in my kit make me feel more comfortable.

        Also, Geonaute has a fairly large nadir hole with it’s 3 lens model, which I find limiting after working with complete 360º coverage that GoPro solutions have provided. For instance, this helicopter footage from a flight over erupting volcanoes in Kamchatka Russia – http://www.spiegel.de/static/360grad/kamtschatka/ – the helicopter is key part of the scene that I wouldn’t want to cover up. This was shot with the original GoPro-hacked 360rig that preceded the Freedom360 by Airpano.

        I think Bubl has the best chance in the consumer market due to design, but much of it will depend on whose apps win the day. What is needed is a 360º viewer option on YouTube. That would change everything.

        Oculus is where a lot of the excitement is and Michael Kintner’s (360Heros) 12 GoPro 3D 360º design might make for amazing Oculus and planetarium content. The resolution he is getting with 12 cameras is incredible. This would make large dome theaters capable of full coverage, HD video for the first time. Big screens and tiny, head-mounted, and hand-held screens, all have room for interactive content like this that really puts you into the scene. In 3D and 360º in Oculus, it may finally all come together.

      • vjmentor says:

        Deadly! As of now you are 100% my “Go to Guy” and 360° specialist. Genuine thanks for sharing your insight. Do you have a blog or site I can link back to???

  5. mjamesfabian says:

    This is just the article I’m looking for. I’m a 360° Panoramic Photographer since 2008 and I do 360° virtual tours as a part-time business. I’ve been a 360° panorama fanatic since I first saw google street view. 360° photo panorama is really amazing for decades… then came 360° video! I’ve been one of the early adopters of GoPano Micro attachment for iPhone it’s a big step forward for panoramic photography but I’m still on the lookout for portable affordable one-shot 360° video camera that can shoot high quality videos. The first camera I’ve been waiting for a long time was ibi (Tamaggo) 360 camera they were announced like 2 yrs ago and was silent for so long and now they are on pre-orders. 2nd is the 360Heros, It’s a powerful combination with multiple gopros but it’s still expensive and stitching process is still there you need a super computer with CUDA graphics card just to stitch. The no. 1 that caught my eye is the Geonaute 360 and I’ve been waiting for it since last year, I already pre-ordered last week :) after they came alive at the CES 2014.
    I’m still searching for other alternatives and this article really opens up a lot of options. It’s still based on the user and what you need it for. The panono and bubl is good because of it not having a Nadir hole and the live streaming is really a plus, lady bug camera is the only one I know that has live streaming and it’s really expensive. It’s good to see Panono having a redesign.
    I’m still voting for Geonaute360 because of it being an action camera and having several mounting options, it’s even compatible with gopro mounts! It’s waterproof, has time lapse mode, and the burst mode is really cool. There’s a nice watch-like wireless remote control that you can strap to your wrist. It has extra batteries and a diving case for underwater shot. I can live with the nadir hole as I’m planning to attach to my Drone, and nadir hole is a good place to put your logos. You can visit my website http://360virtualtourist.com for a collection of my virtual tours and soon some high quality 360° videos :) There are some GoPano Micro shots there as well on my Korea trip page.

    • vjmentor says:

      Thanks for the great comment and contribution. You’ve obviously done a lot of research, if /when you get your geonaute I would welcome a guest post with examples of your work- if your interested? Best Wishes, Glen

  6. Dinko says:

    Geonaute looks really like a nice idea…but…what can be seen on all of their videos is, at least imho, 3 different white balances (why don’t they wb all 3 cams to same kelvins?!?) and offset in stiching (in color and placement)…problem with GoPano micro is iPhone resolution and low video as a result. What would be killer is if Sony would somehow mate QX100 and their Blogie lens…shoot 4K and then unwrap video from it…that would be something :)

  7. wegetaroundatlanta says:

    Glen,

    Great overview!

    Innovations in 360º spherical photography will disruptive visual storytelling across industries.

    In the travel/hospitality/tourism space, for example, by year-end, do-it-yourself 360º photo spheres will be easy, fast and affordable for all hotels and travel destinations ’round the globe.

    Building on your blog post above, I “focus” on 360º spherical images for hotels in this round-up of 360º spherical panorama image solutions:

    http://www.we-get-around.com/blog/2014/1/14/hotel-tech-2015-is-the-year-of-the-360-spherical-camera

    Our view is that you are either early or late embracing new, innovative visual storytelling tools. Early gets a competitive advantage. Late will need to paddle faster to catch up …

    Dan Smigrod
    Founder, CEO and Chief Photographer
    We Get Around
    http://www.We-Get-Around.com

  8. Pingback: Is 2014 the year of the 360º Immersive Video revolution? Check out some of the front-runners. | Glen Mulcahy’s -VJ Technology Blog « kanvaasi

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