I like 360° cameras…you can play with them and they force you to think differently. I first got hold of one in a trial project with two colleagues from the BBC. It was a real bane to TV crews though, it was massive, cumbersome, annoying device about the size of someone’s leg and four times as heavy. It needed a huge amount of render time to make the 5 cameras into one seamless 360 image. Nevertheless, we made a POV drama set in Victorian London. The idea was that wherever you looked, something might be happening. You could only really understand the drama by looking around and finding the where the real action was going on. So you had to watch more than once to capture everything that actually happening. You were in charge of where you looked, unlike drama where the director is your proxy acting on your behalf – less like drama more like real life – you’re not always looking the right way to see what’s going on. It was a good experiment.
Later, for the 2008 BBC Two series Oceans, we took the cumbersome, annoying 360° camera to the Caribbean to try to drown it….or rather to film underwater. I wanted to film a reef shark feeding frenzy.
I thought it would be a dynamic experience and also underwater a 360° camera makes perfect sense, the action really does happen all around you. I was disabused of the feeding frenzy idea – after all – who was going to go down there at feeding time and film it? Me?
Now YouTube have teamed up with Yellowbird with a 360 camera that is about a fifth of the size and the software is thinner…
It may still be a hassle to set up but it’s lighter and much more portable. So it may have a resurgence now Doritos have used it for an online ad. I may have a great idea for the return of the 360º camera to the BBC. Come back in July… I might have something to show you…..below is an image of the more portable kind of 360 cam, so looking at this guy’s face, you can imagine how grumpy TV crews were with the bigger one.
Now though, surround sight has come to the camera. Inspired by the eye of a fly, EPFL scientists have invented a camera that can take pictures and film in 360° and reconstruct the images in 3D. Over one hundred cameras, similar to those used in mobile phones, are crowded onto a metallic hemisphere the size of an orange. Because they are so close together, their range of vision overlaps slightly. A second, miniature prototype has also been developed. It’s about the size of a golf ball and has 15 cameras.
What can this be used for in the creative industries? Movie making, creating backgrounds for video games. Researchers from two EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) laboratories have invented this revolutionary camera. It can film everything in 360, simultaneously and in real time, and then reproduce the images in three dimensions, distortion-free. Of-course you’ll need the glasses so their is a big barrier to entry but not if it uses the same 3D tech and specs as your 3D TV