360 Cameras and Why I love my Ricoh Theta S
The best camera to start 360 photography and video is the Ricoh Theta S for around $300. I tried the Nikon 4K and was so disappointed that I sent it back to B&H and got another Ricoh Theta S. My son was given my first camera.
The Ricoh Theta is reasonable. It reminds one of the first digital cameras. Amazing for what it can do but still needs to improve in the resolution quality. It's early days for 360 cameras. There isn't much out there yet.
The Ricoh can be previewed and controlled remotely on its own WiFi from a distance.
Once you put it on a monopod or light stand it becomes a part of the environment and the stand disappears when it stitches. You don't want to move the camera. One would only 'blur' out to another scene. It's going back to the basics of camera shooting. Not the special effects. The story rules.
The best depth of field is about six feet and at eye level. The eye level starts to make you feel part of the picture when you are looking it at 360.
Another big plus is it is social. You can have it on you always. You can film and upload to YouTube, Facebook and Google Photos. In comparison to the time to download, edit, upload - you can post a video.
But the Ricoh Theta S is great for what it does. It is excellent to start learning with. It gives one perspective on shooting 360. The biggest difference seems to be the reduction in maximum video time. With the S, you can record up to 25 minutes per video. With the new SC, that’s down to 5 minutes per video. One good point is that the newer Theta SC might support future hardware upgrades in the future. But the Thetas don't last that long.
The best thing about the Ricoh in comparison to a Go Pro mount is that it does all the stitching. No post processing other than editing. No further investment in Kolor or another stitching software - or the talent to stitch it.
The next essential is the Dashwood360 editing suite, a plug in for FCPX, Premier, Motion and AfterEffects. http://www.dashwood3d.com/360vrtoolbox.php
Dashwood 360 is now free. Tim Dashwood has now been 'kidnapped' by Apple. It was the news of NAB 2017. Now we know why. The AR development is a perfect fit.
I shot a segment for the interior of a Toyota commercial with the Ricoh Theta, to put within a 2D film. With the Dashwood editing suite, I could control the point of vision in the 360. They wanted a 360 perspective to show everyone on in the car in a controlled point of view (done with key frames. )
It's also possible within the Dashwood to add logos that remain in their place, even 2D video in the 360 space.
With the Dashwood editing suite, you can take the video into Final Cut, Premier, After Effects and play with the colour, sharpening etcetera. Then use the Dashwood to do further special 360 modifications.
Mark Spencer of Ripple Training has put together some MacBreak Specials on 360. I had to reach out to him for advice on my last project. Take a look at MacBreak Studio Ep 359: 360 VR Video in FCP X Part 1
One final software you will need when you export an 'edited' 360 video back to an MP4 from Final Cut or another software is the free 360 Metadata Code injector that tells YouTube and Facebook that it is 360. This is pointed out in MacBreak Studio Ep 360: 360 VR Video in FCP X Part 2
The ways of showing your final 360 to the world are on YouTube and Facebook. They tend to take the resolution down even further but peoples seem to be thrilled with it still. You can also post to the Ricoh Theta site and embed a link. I have only done it with photos. I think they are very restrictive on file size to site. https://theta360.com/users/89171
I have taken thousands of photos with my Ricoh Theta S. It's my first camera for memories. Because with a Google Cardboard; I can be there again. On Google Photos you can revolve them in 360. You could do a shared page. One of my albums. ‘Masterworks Unpacking Fashion’ at the Met.
I think it's a great time to begin with a 360. It's important to start experimenting with composition and field of vision. The cameras will eventually get better.
And that's the next question - when is better going to come?
In theory Ricoh is bringing out a 4K. It still hasn't happened, it may not. The Samsung 360 is similar to the Ricoh. It is still a domestic camera.
The Instapro 360 is still on pre-order at B&H Photo for almost $5,000. But they are starting to appear in Canada.
None of the promised cameras are happening yet. Not the Samsung 4K Dual vision that I saw at NAB 2017. Not the Live Planet which was so mind blowing two years ago. And whatever happened to Jason Goodman's camera? I saw a sample last summer and it looked good.