360 videos … What headset? What app? What videos?

Mission of the day: watching 360 videos.

The VR headset

VR headsets 360

I start by rationalizing: I have a smartphone, so no need to spend a fortune in an all-in-one headset (with built-in display).
So I opt for a cheap helmet, but that still seems comfortable enough to be worn for a few dozens of minutes, the Homido.
After my first tests, the result is rather mixed.

The Homido headset is made of plastic, looks pretty solid, but it is a bit heavy and not very practical to use with conventional smartphone applications.

The smartphone

I’m addicted to Apple. So I do have an iPhone.
Thing is I’m not Croesus. So I do have an old iPhone.
Problem: my 5S screen is neither wide enough nor sufficiently powerful to enjoy the optimum reading comfort for VR. The resolution is not comfortable, and the screen is not wide enough to cover the 110° visibility that nature has offered to all homo sapiens who have a set of functional eyes.

Once the phone is placed in Homido glasses, the iPhone is kind of lost in this holder, too big for it. It takes a while to find its right place, so that the image is not blurred. By removing the smartphone to tap on its screen and put it back into the headset, the screen protection of my iPhone ended up fracking. Too bad, but finally, I prefer that it is the screen protection rather than the screen itself.

Assessment: I want to buy an all-in-one headset, with built-in display. Problem: it costs an arm and a leg (and a few fingers).

Cat vs computer

The apps

Once the iPhone in the Homido, I’m in search for a good 360 video app …
The eponymous application to the helmet is not good enough, I give up quickly.
Only advantage: there is no need to remove the phone from the headset to navigate the app, just point the look in the right direction. But the application does not respond well to my wishes (too fast, or off track).
Unpleasant experience, I give up.

To watch my own videos, I opt for the VRPlayer app. First the free version, then the paid version.
I regret that the application does not remember my settings. For each new video, I have to reconfigure: spherical video, VR headphone’s side-by-side vision (the picture is separated into two parts, one facing each eye).
Loss of time and energy.

I try the YouTube app, which already offers an impressive 360 videos catalog (by their number … and mediocrity).
After each video, I have to remove the iPhone from the headset to choose a new video, select the VR viewer and then put the iPhone back into the headset.
Loss of time and energy.

Same story with the Vimeo app, and same conclusion (except for the catalog quality).

In search of quality videos, I download the Arte360 app, from a Franco-German TV channel, well none for the quality of its programs.
The result is the same: I have to remove the iPhone from the headset to navigate the application …

After trying – in vain – to insert my finger into the headphones to reach the screen, my conclusion is: the headset alone, without remote control, is really not comfortable.

360 videos


Once settled the concerns of phone, headset and application, remains the problem of the content quality.
There are thousands of 360 videos, but very, very, very few are worth watching.
Even the Arte360 application, which should offer only Premium videos picked for their artistic quality, is not up to the task.

Finding an interesting 360 movie is a real challenge.
The cinephile that I am can only be saddened by such a statement.
The filmmaker that I am can only rejoice!

*translated by Google*

First report on 360 video

360 videos are a childhood dream that comes true.
To find yourself immersed in the very heart of a film, is the wish of any movie aficionado!

Today, we are there: the cameras are there, the apps are there, and the broadcast service platforms are more and more numerous.

So why did not the 360 video really take off yet?

Because the 360 video still suffers from a terrible defect: the picture is not pleasant to watch.

Alien 360 vr headsetWatching a video with a “smartphone-friendly” headset glued to the eyes is heavy, literally and figuratively.

The headset plus the smartphone weigh hard on the nose. The system is not practical: you have to remove the smartphone from the headset to go from one video to another, then once the new video has started, you have to put the phone back in the headset, and sometimes set it up again so the image is sharp.

Obviously, I could buy an Oculus Rift helmet. Well, before that, I’d have to rob a bank, and it’s not in my plans for the next few weeks.

Comfort is not at the rendezvous, and neither is the content …
The sensors of the 360 ​​cameras on the market are all roughly equivalent, that is to say mediocre, apart of one or two cameras.

It is still possible to find quality devices at affordable prices (a pretty penny and a half) for small production agencies, below 10,000 dollars.

Some agencies therefore use good tools, and adapt the device according to the situation: poles, drones, motorcycles, helmet or belt fasteners …
They end up with beautiful images, but … yet, the count is not there.

360 VR headset in 4DSometimes, not to say all the time, the actors play is mediocre.
Often, the scenario is non-existent, or too simplistic to be interesting.
Sometimes the image is fine, but the post-production editing is not adapted: with jumps of sequences every 10 seconds, how to have time to discover the decor?

The real problem is that by creating these 360 ​​images, we forget the most important thing: user experience.

Yet it should be the focus of all attention when creating 360-degree movies. Video game companies understood this a long time ago.

It is from the viewer that one can construct a virtual reality experience or videos worthy of being designated as movies.

We must rely on the work of the first directors who, just over a century ago, have also had to reinvent photography, to adapt it to the moving image. Just as photographers had to rely on the work of painters to invent new codes, specific to photography.

The realization of 360 video is above all a huge and exciting research field for filmmakers, especially for fiction.

The universe of video games is a pillar, cinema is another. From these two pillars, we must now try, test, deceive ourselves, start again and again. Check what works, and especially check what does not work.

On the broadcast side, it is still necessary to improve user comfort, maybe even invent new tools to broadcast 360 films.

Everything has to be done.
Everything has to be reinvented!

*translated by Google*

Filming nature (and its creatures) with the GoPro Omni

The GoPro Omni and its 2-hour battery pack in the suitcase, I embark for a perilous expedition into deep France. Direction: the French Riviera, its sun and its weird creatures that buzz in the ears.

This damn fabric bag protects the camera from scratches, but not from camera startups. I had nevertheless rigged the Omni by surrounding it with clothes, but despite this, with every movement of the suitcase, I hear a camera turning on.
Every time, I have to take the camera out of the suitcase, remove the cloth case, find the camera on, and turn it off.
On arrival, the batteries are already emptied one third of their capacity, and I have not filmed any image yet …

Nice Bunny

The creatures

Luck is with me: wild rabbits ride gaily on my natural film set!
Well, it’s not that simple.
The rabbits are there, but only when there is no camera. As soon as I put the camera in place, the rabbits – ingenuously suspicious – do not take the muzzle out of their burrows.

The third bunnyLike the tamer of tigers, I am patient and cunning.

I set up the camera and go away, remote control in hand, not to remain in the field (literally, figuratively). After about twenty minutes, the first animal makes its appearance, quite suspicious, bypassing the camera.
I press the remote control to start recording, but the sound of the cameras scares my actor … Game over.

No more choice: I let the camera running.

After another twenty minutes, the wild rabbits show again, sadly without approaching the camera.

After three takes, I have to resolve this fatality: there is no battery left to film anything else. And I did not board the battery charger, which would have taken half of my suitcase and would have weighed in several pounds.

Editing the rabbits

Back in Paris, I import the images into my computer.
The operation lasts several hours and generously fills my 8 TB hard drive!
Assembly is easier than for previous images of passers-by on the Seine docks. The rabbits are much smaller, and therefore do not exceed one camera to the other. As for the landscape, it is much simpler to film branches of trees, which can be multiplied by parallax effects without this posing too many problems.
The export of the assembled images will take two days and two nights, during which my computer will run without respite.


The result is no great shakes, but works … for a relaxation session.
I’m starting to be more comfortable on the assembly software, despite some failures that I do not really explain (AutoPano Video software has its reasons, which reason does not know).

Positive note: it is incredibly simple to edit the images on FCPX (Final Cut Pro X) equipped with 360VR software/plugin !
Less positive note: 4K is already heavy, but 360 in 4K, it weighs heavily …

*translated by Google*

First steps with GoPro Omni

I’ve just received my GoPro Omni camera!
The suitcase is huge and way too heavy to carry. Almost as heavy as my mobile studio (3 4K-cameras + 2 spots + microphones), which I regularly carry on my VeloStudio-bike. We will have to find lighter alternatives to go on shootings …

Getting Started

Firstly, the Omni system is pretty awesome … Solid, easy to handle.
Without waiting, I take my GoPro Omni under my arm and head to the banks of the Seine to test it.
It lacks a rigid case: at the slightest movement, the camera powers on. One of the six cameras lights up. Each time, I have to take the camera out of its small cloth case, find the guilty camera, and cut off its beak. Tiring, and energy-hungry (for the camera batteries, and a bit of mines …)

The Rives de Seine Park at 360 °

On the banks, I set up the camera and film the passers-by. Short 5-minute sequences, in different places.

Back home, I import the rushes via the Omni importer. Then I open AutoPano Video Pro to take my first steps on the GoPro Omni dedicated software …
The interface is not very pleasant in the eyes of the Apple aficionado that I am … but hey, it’s not as if I was spoiled for choice!
I tackle the buttons, search, open AutoPano Giga to fine-tune the assembly of images …
Result: meh, nah.

The f***ing nodal point

The nightmare of a 360 postproduction editor is parallax effects: those “ghost” effects.
The fault with science and this stupid problem of perspective: the nodal point.
The sensors of the different cameras are not exactly in the same place (they are logically separated by a few inches), so the perspectives are not exactly the same from one camera to another: the object in the foreground will not be at the exact same place relative to the second plane, from one camera to another. Result: duplicate effects, or objects or persons cut in the middle.

Although I battle with the software, watch several tutorials, some of excellent quality, I have to give up: it is not technically possible to repair these parallax effects with this software, despite very powerful.
The fault at the set and location of the camera during the shooting: if the people pass too close to the camera, they will be badly cut in half in the finale image.

Crazy GoPro flying guy


The GoPro Omni camera is perfect for shooting from a distance. For close-ups, we’ll pass.
Did I fooled myself spending a small fortune to become owner of this camera?
My instinct tells me that I did well, and my YouTube eye is formal: the GoPro Omni is by far, so far – the camera that offers the best image quality on the market …
I’ll hang on and leave it a second chance!

Next step: filming nature with the GoPro Omni

*translated by Google*

Discovering 360 Video

For a long time this idea trotted in my head: to film in 360 degrees.

In recent years, I watched from a distance the technical advances: cameras, broadcast media, editing softwares
Everything was still too fresh.

360 Video rocks!A while ago, I took the plunge.
I began, as a good pragmatic director that I am, to analyze the market.
I went to visit Virtuality, the Virtual Reality Show, at the 104, in Paris.
I took control of the cameras, tested the broadcast devices, experienced the sensations of the most efficient devices on the market, watched the most successful projects to date (fiction, documentaries, institutional films …) and I came to this conclusion: Western societies are ripe to live the 360 video revolution.

So I ordered my first 360 camera: the GoPro Omni!

*translated by Google*