Experiments in 360 and VR – Google Cardboard Camera

Huntingdon Railway station Platform 2 – steroscopic 360 image from Google’s cardboard camera, shot on iPhone 5s.


Over the last few months I have become completely obsessed with 360 and VR technologies and have taken a run at the steep learning curve involved in producing and delivering this content.
I haven’t bought a 360 camera yet as the industry is moving fast and several cameras released recently or about to be released have upped the game again, so whilst waiting patiently for real world user samples before taking the plunge on what I know will be a huge money sink I’ve been trying to educate myself about everything involved – monoscopic or stereoscopic? immersive audio, ambisonics? post production, 360 motion graphics and a whole new way of thinking about storytelling.

90% of 360 content is consumed in 2D on mobile devices or other flat screens but where these technologies really deliver the HOLY SHIT WOW moment for me is when putting on a headset.
There’s some amazing content out there and it’s getting better all the time.
It’s really great to hand a headset to someone who’s never seen 360 and watch as they umm and ahh in amazement.
This moment for me is why I think these technologies are the future.

The cost of entry is negligible, the phone in your pocket, an internet connection and some way to view the stereoscopic image, the most ubiquitous being the Google Cardboard viewer.

I’m a way off shooting 360 stereoscopic video with the associated post-production and storage costs (a new computer, new software, more drives) and how to deliver it but what I have come late to the party on is Google’s Cardboard camera.

The image at the top of the page and those below were shot using this free app on my old iPhone 5s and whilst viewing them here (especially if you full screen them) is pretty cool, where they really make you go wow is if you view them on a headset.
Google and it’s neural nets have made it possible to shoot stereoscopic 3D images with ambient sound (only available when you view in the cardboard camera app, can’t find a way to embed them here with sound) using the single lens of your smartphone!!!!
The effect is quite simply amazing. If you have a headset I urge you to open this page on your smartphone and hit the little headset icon on one of the images to see what I mean.
Even better download the cardboard camera app and look at some of the examples there with sound (it makes a world of difference to immersion) and shoot some pictures yourself.

Yes, its far from perfect, its essentially a horizontal panorama so you can’t look up or down but, for me the effect and the fact that I can shoot them with a device I have with me ALWAYS is (and I really hate myself for saying these words) “game changing”.

Watch this space because believe me more 360 images and video and hopefully stereoscopic 360 images and video is coming from me, see you on the holodeck!


Outside “The Junction” In Cambridge

Inside the main auditorium at “The Junction”

Our back garden

My Office

I’d like to thank Sarah Redohl from Immersive Shooter (Nice ident on those Immersive Shooter videos Sarah, what talented and available for hire guy did those?) for taking the time and answering some of my stupid questions.
If you are interested in this stuff, Immersive Shooter isn’t a bad place to start.
360rumors.com is good for camera reviews and other tech related news too.
Youtube and facebook already have a lot of content you can watch, and both allow you to upload your own 360 content.

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