Testing: Conclusion

After done several tests with the Samsung Gear 360 and the Zoom H2n some things have been learned when it comes to creating 360-degree videos.

The first thing is the actual shooting part of these videos is that it is less hands on. Once recording, there is no touching the camera anymore and no live feedback. After the shot is made you can look it back through the Samsung Gear 360 app or on a computer. This takes significantly more time when comparing to creating traditional videos, so good preparations are a must. It is actually more time consuming in general. The stitching, editing, exporting and uploading (to YouTube) takes a lot of time, in my experience. This can get especially in the way when you want to review your work with a VR headset.

When not satisfied with the results, it is hard to edit the video to your likings. Since cutting in shot may result in your subject being suddenly moved in the scene which lessens the experience of the viewer. With traditional video you can do this, but with the medium you have to reshoot. Which, again, is time consuming.

The gear that was used for making these test was very nice to work with. It is mentioned on this blog that they are easy to use and deliver good quality. Although some issues surfaced with Samsung Gear 360. After about 15 to 20 minutes it overheats and can’t record before it is cooled down, which can take a while. Another thing that is frustrating is that the software for this camera is only made for Samsung Galaxy phones and Windows. It would also stop recording sometimes for no particular reason and then work normally for the next take.

Several people have seen the test videos that were made and they all reacted positively. For most it was their first experience in VR and were amazed by simply the medium itself. Sometimes they forgot that they can look around and when they did things like “Oh! There is also stuff happening here!” was shouted. This resulted in wanting to see the video again to see what else was going on. A lot of the people did not seem to mind when the video was takes place in one location. This perhaps could be because when transitioning to another location in the same video makes it feel less ‘realistic’ and they are reminded of it being a video. When in one location they felt like they were at the location for a little bit. Some of them actually tried to touch the surroundings, although they knew it was not real.

The videos that took place in a single location with a stationary camera position were received best. The viewer was more at easy and able to take their time and look around. When there was more movement and transitions in the video, it sometimes would feel a little confusing and disorienting.

So the overall experience with 360-degree video is that it takes a lot of preparation and time to create what you want. But it is worth it in the end, because for a lot of people it is a new experience which they do enjoy.

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Testing: Part IV

This is just a little experiment that I wanted to try. The purpose, apart to keep practising making 360-degree videos, was to put myself in the video twice. This is a pretty easy thing to do and works the same as in traditional videos.

The way you do this is to keep the camera on the same position and record yourself in two positions. When editting you cut yourself out of one of those videos and layer it on top of the other video. With a bit of tweaking you can make it look like you are in the video twice. In this video I tried to have a little duel with my guitars. I had to count in my head when the other was playing, which was a bit harder than I thought. But I like the result.

Testing: Part III

The next part I wanted to look at was filming while holding the camera in my hand, filming outside and what transitions work in a 360-degree video. In this video I filmed my journey from my house to Leiden. I used a voice over to keep it a bit more interesting, although I have to admit my voice over skills are not the best. The video is filmed with the Samsung Gear 360 camera.

To get the full experience, I recommend to watch this with a VR headset if you have one.

The process of creating 360-degree videos is getting more and more familiar for me. The biggest difference from the previous videos is that this one has multiple shots and carries bit more of a story. For the static shots I used a tripod again, because I do not have a better alternative yet. I do feel that the tripod is not that bad when watching the video with a VR headset, since there is no real reason for looking down. However, I will try to remove the tripod in a future test. The camera movement in this video is not as smooth as I wish it was, but when looking with a VR headset it kind of gets away with it. I should look further into the possiblities of how to move the camera. I find that the slow and smooth transitions, like the second, fourth and fifth, work the best. It gives the viewer enough time to get ready for the next shot. Although those transitions are more pleasant when watching with a VR headset, I do find them a bit to slow and boring. There should be more creative ways to transition to the next shot and I should experiment with that.

Testing: Part II

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Zoom H2n

After having created my first 360-degree video, I wanted to make another one. I know on what points I had to improve for my second try. The camera is on a higher position, there is more lighting and an actual story element in the video. The main goal of this video was to use the Zoom H2n microphone instead of the build-in microphone of the camera. The Zoom H2n can record spatial audio, which can be roughly described as “360-degree sound”. It has the ability to capture a four-channel surround sound audio, which gives you four audio channels that can be altered individually. It is a bit bigger than the camera I am using (Samsung Gear 360) and it can be mounted on a tripod, when that is a bendable one you can easily attach it to the tripod that the camera is on. Click here for a more elaborate discription of the Zoom H2n.

Process

For this video I had basically the same process as the last one. I shot the video (which took 7 takes) and recorded the audio with the Zoom H2n at the same time. This time I used the correct settings which gave me one 4K file, instead of multiple files in a lower resolution. I used the ‘clap’ method to make it easier for me to sync the video and audio with each other in the edit. After stitching the video, I put the video and audio file in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, synced them together. I cut out the parts I did not need and put in some titles (this time not so big and a bit longer on screen). Exported it in the right settings, injected the metadata and uploaded it to YouTube.

Hereby I present my second 360-degree video. This time it is me singing a song while playing the guitar, so hopefully it is more interesting than the previous one. It is recommended to watch it with a VR headset, such as Google Carboard, if that is possible.

This video is already a lot better than the first one, mainly because something more insteresting is actually happening in the video. Just like the Samsung Gear 360, the Zoom H2n is really easy to use. All I had to do is put it in the desired settings and press the red record button. At first I had trouble with the volume of the audio (it was way to soft), but after putting the raising the gain level it was fine. The video is a couple minutes longer and took a whole lot longer to process, export and upload. This has primarly to do with the lenght of the video and the because it is in 4K resolution. A normal tripod was used to put the camera on a higher position, this was also mentioned in the video itself. You can see the tripod in the video, which is not ideal. I want to look into what a good way is to mount the camera on a tripod and how the tripod could perhaps be cut out of the video itself. For the next test I also want to look at shooting outside with natural light.

 

Testing: Part I

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Samsung Gear 360

This week I am testing the Samsung Gear 360 camera. I will be looking at how to use the camera, recording sound with the internal microphone and an external microphone (Zoom H2n) and how to edit the videos. Several videos will be uploaded to this blog that are shot with this camera. The goal of these tests is to familiarize myself with creating 360-degree videos.

The Samsung Gear 360

Since about a year, 360-degree cameras are more accessible to the consumer, the Samsung Gear 360 is one of those cameras. This small device, not bigger than a tangerine, will cost you between €200 and €250, depending on where you get it. The camera uses two lenses that both record 180-degree in Ultra HD-resolution (4k). With the use of bluetooth you can connect to your phone, which is simultaneously a point that I dislike about this camera, it only connects to Samsung phones. Apart from that, it is really easy to use. You turn it on, put it in video or photo mode and you can record immediately by pressing the record button on the camera or with your phone. When connected to your phone you are able to watch a live preview of what the camera is recording. When done recording you can playback the videos on your phone via bluetooth and they can later be saved on the phone itself. For a more comprehensive description you can read this post.

Process

I recorded a bit while I was making dinner so that I had some footage that I could later turn into a 360-degree video. I looked up some tutorials online that explained the process and workflow of creating a 360-degree video. They all basically said the same thing, but I stuck with this tutorial. There are more steps than I initially thought, so here is a brief summary.

After the footage is recorded with it needs to be stitched together. For this you need a program called ‘Gear 360 Action Director’. When you import the desired footage into the program it creates a stitched file. You can edit your video in this program or use the stitched file in another video editing software (in my case Premiere Pro CC). After you are done editing the video, export it using the right settings (that I took from the previously mentioned tutorial). If you wish to upload it to YouTube for example, you need another software to include a certain metedata to enable the 360-degree playback. That software is called ‘Spatial Media Metadata Injector’. It will create another file with that needed metadata, this will also be the file that you will upload to YouTube.

First official 360-degree video test

So after having watched the tutorials and done all the steps, I created my first test 360-degree test video. It is a very simple video of me cooking dinner for me and my roommate. The purpose for this particular video was to see how the process of filming and editting goes for a 360-degree video. The subject and story of the video was not important right now.

I did notice that I put the camera in the wrong settings, since it cuts after every one minute and it is not in 4K, also the camera position is pretty low. I did put a song under it in the middle of the video to make it more bearable to watch. The reason why it is 4 minutes long is for me to see how long it takes to render a video of that length. In my case that was around 50 minutes. The opening title is way to big, so it is good to upload it somewhere where you can view the video in 360-degree. This way you can see what works and what does not.

After this test I think that the Samsung Gear 360 is a really nice camera to use. It takes good quality video, it is extremly easy to use and the size makes it very easy to carry around. The editing and exporting is something I need to get more familiar with, but that will be accomplished over time.

Overall I consider this test to be succesful in the sense that I learned a lot from it. I see where improvement is needed.  For the following tests I will look at more editing techniques, using an external microphone and of course creating a more interesting story.