Creating 360/VR Video

This is where the idea of creating virtual reality experiences really starts to get interesting. It's something anyone can do with the right equipment, and for me is the true future of VR.

Create VR

How To Create Your Own Virtual Reality Experiences

You turn to the left. Stretching out before you is a vast expanse of pure white sand. Look up into an azure blue sky. Turn to the right and wade into the clear waters of a warm sea.

Sounds like the ideal Caribbean holiday scene right?

But you’re not there. And it’s not real. But it feels like it is.

Imagine being able to create your own favourite virtual environment. Or even a series of them, one for every day. One for when you’re feeling down, one to calm you down, one to make you happy.

And imagine making a 360 movie for posterity. Perhaps with family members, friends, or a much loved dog or cat. To be played back at will in virtual reality.

Until recently all this would have been inconceivable for any of us not capable of complex design, but with the new VR head displays in combination with powerful 360 degree cameras, it’s all becoming a very real possibility.

 

So Where Do We Start?

Let’s assume you’re already a VR headset owner, and you’ve already played some games and maybe sampled a few of the experiences.

You’re ready for the next step – how to create your own virtual reality experiences.

First off, there are different types of creation. We’ll cover each in turn – creation within a VR environment, and creation of a VR environment.

Creation within a VR environment is the more simple of the two. Basically it’s what you create while wearing a headset and actually inside the game or experience. It can range from the creation of a work of art in an artistic application, or a virtual city in a virtual world game.

Pretty straightforward so far.

But what we really want to talk about is how you go about actually creating virtual worlds of your own. We can break this down into two areas – making VR games, and making 360 degree VR videos.

 

Creating Games In VR

I’m not a games developer. Many of us aren’t, and this is a complex subject which needs good knowledge to cover adequately. So I’m going to keep this section short, and focus more on what we can all do – create our own videos.

If you are interested in creating games, you’re going to need a developer headset to work with. There are some great tips on this page around game creation –

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/192810/creat…

 

How Do I Create a VR Video?

The tools of the trade here are hardware and software.

The hardware element is the 360 degree cameras which deliver spherical videos compiled from images shot from multiple directions. The result is an immersive experience for the viewer. When the video is effectively edited with good software, you can end up with some truly stunning results.

To now it’s been a complicated, time-consuming process to create one – involving taking multiple shots and stitching them together to form the end result. But it’s coming to the masses in a big way, with recent breakthrough developments in new technology.

The first new consumer models were seen in the middle of 2015, and already developments in this area are moving ahead with rapid speed, with newer cameras delivering improved resolutions and greater audio quality.

Assuming you’re not a professional film-maker, you’ll need to be looking at the rapidly growing array of consumer 360 degree cameras. All consumer devices promise the ability to at least end up with a presentable form of VR video without having to spend hours stitching and editing.

Once you have a video ready you can you can watch the results straight away by downloading to a smartphone or sharing directly to Facebook or Youtube. This is a straightforward process, but note that for Youtube you’ll need to download some software from Google that you place as a file into the video. This tells Youtube that it’s 360 degree content, so they can display it effectively.

 

4 Apps For Creating Your Own VR Content

There are a number of apps that will be useful if you’re considering making your own virtual reality videos:

 

FullDive Camera – For Android
– A quick, easy, and interesting solution which lets you take photos with any ordinary smartphone which can be viewed in VR. Well, not exactly full 360 VR, but with a depth that gets close.┬áThere are a handful of negative reviews in the Google Play Apps store accompanying a few good ones, so you’ll probably need to make up your own mind on whether it delivers what you want.
Google Street View – for iOS & Android

– Integrated into Google Street View, this well known app offers 360 degree image capture capability. You can upload images directly and they can be viewed with or without a VR headset.
Video Stitch – for Windows & Mac

We can all shoot some form of 360 video, though to get a polished professional end result takes skill and time. You’ll need to be well-versed in post production video techniques. This app helps by providing functions which will calibrate, enhance, and stabilize any footage you’ve shot.

 

Who Makes Them & How Much Do 360 Cameras Cost?

As you’d expect with new technology, prices for good models that deliver strong results are high. In the professional film-making arena the Nokia Ozo is an example with a cost of around $60k.

At a more general user level there’s the GoPro Odyssey at about $15k. At a more affordable level there’s the Ricoh Theta S which retails in the $350 range.

An interesting development first seen in prototype form at the CES show of 2016 was the Yezz Sfera, a new smartphone that houses two spherical cameras. This lets you make recordings of 360 degree VR videos.

Other 360 cameras include the Alliecam, Kodak PixPro and 360Fly. Read more about VR cameras.

 

Technical Difficulties

Aside from any technical complexities of shooting 360 videos with the cameras themselves (which of course can be overcome with practice), there are some considerations to make in how the videos are shot.

Filming in VR is different than traditional two dimensional video. You’ll need to put considerable thought into how the viewer will watch the content, specifically how they might make head movements and where precisely they’ll look at any one point.

Having empathy with a viewer will be key. You’ll need to ‘engineer’ complex action scenes so that the attention of the viewer is on the right place at the right time.

It’s also worth considering using a tripod to give stability, because you won’t want to be shooting footage while actually moving yourself. This is because the viewers of videos make the movements themselves, and if you add the movement of the camera you’ll end up with a potentially dizzying effect.

 

More Info & Resources

For some additional perspectives on shooting 360 video see this site at 360heros.com

http://www.360heros.com/vr/