I'M READY FOR MY CLOSE UP!
360 cameras have a come a long way in a very short period of time. With each new release of a camera comes amazing upgrades in both functionality and quality. 360 cameras are going to play a huge part in both operators creating their content to distribute, to tourists diarising their travels and sharing through social media.
SO MANY CHOICES....
The exciting news for businesses wanting to create their own VR content is that the quality of consumer-level cameras has reached a point in which it can produce videos of an acceptable quality.
SAMSUNG GEAR 360 ($190)
Cameras range in price but for just under $1000 you can acquire a great quality camera that is easy to use. At the lower end of the price scale is the Samsung Gear 360. To support the success of the Samsung Gear VR headset, they released a 360 camera targeted at the consumer-level market. This little camera packs a fair punch for its price. Its out of the box, plug and play nature means it requires a very small learning curve and is a great tool to begin the journey into creating 360 video. Like most of these consumer grade cameras, they are controlled with a smartphone, offering a live view where your footage is stitched together in real time. Live streaming is another fantastic feature of this camera, meaning you could showcase live events to your audience in a really effective manner. For the small investment, the Samsung Gear 360 offers a great opportunity to try and see if producing your own content has some benefits to your business.
GoPro FUSION ($999)
The Fusion was Go Pro's consumer-level attempt at a 360 camera. Several years ago, GoPro designed a rig that hooked up 6 different cameras facing different directions and recorded footage simultaneously which would later be stitched together in post-production. Aimed at professionals, the Omni was responsible for some of the early high quality 360 videos. Traditionally, GoPro has developed high-quality action cameras at a really low price point and when the technology got to a point where they could develop a 360 camera under $1000, Fusion was the result.
Jess Bonner, the Senior Project Manager for GoPro Fusion, passionately describes the Fusion functionality the best "The Fusion looks like our traditional GoPro’s that we’ve had as of late with the rubbery texture. It feels durable and has the same two-finger backwards compatibility with our mounts and accessories. It has all the same modes that you’d have on a regular GoPro such as video, photo, timelapse, burst, as well as our Protune settings, which all of our users, high-end users and more advanced users, love to use. It has voice commands, supporting ten languages and thirteen dialects. It pairs perfectly with both iPhones and Androids, allowing you to change modes, preview & share...Oh, and its waterproof to five metres."
Two things that stood out the most to me when using the Fusion and why i think it is currently the best option for operators are; A) It is still an action camera at heart and B) Overcapture.
Having come from arguably the best action camera company in the world, the GoPro is certainly no slouch in this area. Obviously, the camera is compatible with all GoPro accessories and what this means for users is how creative you can get with camera placement. One way to make your 360 content stand out is to try something different, there is a plethora of spherical videos where the camera is just placed in the centre of a room and left. With the Fusion, you can place it in environments that might give your footage that edge or a different level of immersion by placing it on the outside of a car, a bike helmet or a drone.
What is Overcapture? Jess Boner explains "Overcapture allows you to re-frame 360 content to get traditional fixed-perspective 2D content that looks like a regular GoPro. So if you needed to create magazine ads or flat assets, Fusion is a great tool, because you could do beautiful, immersive 360 photos and videos, but then they could also do really high-quality crops, of 16.6 megapixel photos. It enables you to really leverage the flexibility of the camera."
The ability to create this new style of flat traditional videos while also creating 360 video makes this camera an all-in-one, multipurpose tool or capital expense. Below is a video example from YouTube user which highlights what the Overcapture feature on the Fusion can produce.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
It all depends on your budget and the level investment you want to outlay. If dipping your toe in the water is where you want to start then entry level camera with a little bit of creativity will create some really cool results. Take some risks with what footage you create and put the camera in some interesting locations, share the content then gather feedback to improve.
You will start to see the worth in creating content once you actually start creating so for such a little investment you could actually find that you are creating content that makes you stand out from the crowd.