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360 Experiments with the Ricoh Theta

In our first class for In Their Shoes, we did some quick experiments taking 360 footage with the Ricoh Theta. Later in the semester we’ll be using a more complex GoPro rig that can take higher resolution footage, but for now the Ricoh Theta is a good way to quickly prototype ideas and get comfortable with the 360 format.

Below is a test video we made in NYU’s creepy sub-basement. I stitched the footage using the Ricoh Theta’s easy drag and drop interface, and then uploaded it to YouTube based on these instructions from AJ (and these ones from Google, for more info on how to add 360 metadata to your video file). YouTube now has a 360 player that lets you easily navigate around a video using either your mouse or keyboard. The next step will be hooking this up to a Google Cardboard to experience it in VR.

Speaking of which, I came across this article in Wired today about an upcoming collaboration between the NYTimes and Google. They’re working on an immersive journalism piece that entails delivering Google Cardboard to over a million readers, to launch in early November.

Some considerations and things I noticed about this format:

  • The 360, at least in this case, really doesn’t work well when the camera is moving a lot. Better to keep it still.
  • The stitching gets really weird around the hand of the person holding the camera. I wonder what a better approach to this would be.
  • This video has the camera above eye level, which creates a weird floating / hovering effect.
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