A 360° cooking Show would be interesting to watch.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about how you could make a 360° cooking show. For this video I would like to be able to see the process from an angle where I see the person cooking. I would also like to see all of the ingredients and the preparation of various stages of the recipe. For this you would need an open plan kitchen where preparation takes place in the middle of the room.

If it was to be filmed with just one camera then the camera should be lower than eye level but not by much. I would want to look straight ahead in to the eyes of the person preparing the meal and talking. As the person speaks about ingredients I would like to be able to look down and see all of the ingredients. You would need enough room for chopping and marinating. I would think about having a camera above the cooking surfaces so that we can see how the textures change from the start of cooking to when the mix becomes “saucy”. That’s how they describe it in recipes.

I want the 360 approach to be justified. I want to make it so that the viewer has a reason to wear VR goggles. The video above justifies a 360° video whereas the video below does not. The camera needs to be placed as close to the action as possible. It should be designed so that the viewer has to turn his head to see what is happening.

This video does not justify the 360 approach because the action happens in front of the camera and although you can look around the background is not relevant. The action is too small on screen. You can’t see what they are doing.

The camera operator and the producer should learn the recipe and identify what the stages of preparation are. They should have a shot list of every thing that is relevant and place the camera accordingly. Is an oven or a grill used? is sauce prepared? Is something timelapse friendly?

A few years ago we were up in a swiss chalet with a friend and we decided to cook a pizza with a log fire rather than an oven. We started the log fire and then we placed the pizza next to the fire. As the fire was only on one side we rotated the pizza to get it to cook in full. In watching the playback you see the pizza cook as well as the logs go from being logs to embers and “melt” downwards as they burn. If the camera can safely be placed close enough to the fire then you could look down at the pizza as the ingredients change appearance and look up to see the logs decrease in size.

I believe that 360° cooking shows have a future. In theory you need just one well placed camera and editing is cut down to a minimum. Instead of editing and vision mixing from two or three cameras you need just one. I believe that the programme should not be more than 5-10 minutes. People, for now, are still getting used to VR headsets and may find extended periods of time more tiring to watch.

How long will it take before someone like Jamie Oliver uses VR cooking simulations to teach people to cook in the real world. With enough time they could emulate real cooking times at different heats so that when you transition from VR to reality you have the right intuition to successfully cook for yourself and others.

A 360 Video of planes landing – An experiment

Waiting for planes to land

I prepared a 360 Video of planes landing at Geneva International Airport yesterday afternoon. Watching planes land, especially when you’re right underneath them just as they’re about to touch down is a lot of fun. You see the lights in the distance and slowly those lights approach. There is a point after which everything speeds up and the sound gets louder. The plane flies right over you and you see the landing gear, the engines and you see the plane correct as the wind buffets it from side to side. You see it skew and then you’re turning around very quickly and you watch it land.

With a conventional camera or tripod this is a challenge to film because tripods are designed to pan and tilt but not in this manner. If you wanted to film landings from the position I was in you would need to build a rig that tilts up and then when the plane is directly overhead swivels and then tilts back down. With a conventional tripod this takes practice to get right.

360 cameras are an interesting alternative for camera operators because rather than move the camera it is the viewer that changes the direction in which he is looking. He watches the plane approach, looks up as it flies overhead and then swivels around to see it touch down.

I filmed 18 landings. Some of the aircraft are A-320s and others are private jets. I would have liked to get one of the A-340s that lands at Geneva but I was not that lucky. When viewing this footage I notice that the underside of the aircraft is dark. When you watch this in person then you see a lot of detail which the camera was unable to pick up. I look forward to when we can film 360 videos with full control of the device.


The Theta+ Video app is available

Yesterday the Theta+ Video app came out for Android. The Theta+ video app allows you to trim video clips and then share them to social networks. This means that you no longer need to wait until you get home to prepare content for sharing. You can do it while you sit and have a post activity hot chocolate or other drink.

Video options
Video options

When you select the raw video it is converted to be a spherical video. When that process completes you can choose between creating a 360 degree video or a cropped one. A cropped one is a tinyworld video.

Filters, Trim and music
Filters, Trim and music

The next menu gives you three choices, filters, trim or background music. I never bother with filters and the trim option is fiddly on the Sony Xperia Z5 compact with a 13 minute video. With a shorter video I would have found this process easier. Saving is not intuitive. First you trim the video and then you go back and save the changes. While saving you need to keep the app open.

The sharing options are to Facebook, youtube and other social networks. This varies according to which apps you have on your phone. I like that the two first options are facebook and youtube as these are the networks that I usually share to. When I tried to upload to youtube it failed twice. When I attempted to upload to Facebook it was stuck at 99 percent twice.

This is a great app to trim videos before sharing and add some music when required. What I would like to see in future versions is the ability to compile a number of 360 videos together to create edited sequences. They need to improve uploading so that it works better. At the moment of posting all attempts to share videos failed.

360 timelpase videos

360 timelapse videos provide us with interesting new opportunities. Imagine for example placing the camera out to see near Weymouth beach and watching as the tide comes towards the camera and then beyond it towards the city. Imagine watching as the sun rises on one side of the Leukerbad Valley and sets on the other. Imagine that BBC Natural history unit sequence of sand dunes moving across the landscape one day at a time for a year.

Timelapse with the Ricoh Theta S

Two days ago I was tempted to try a timelapse video with the Ricoh Theta S. My plan had been to take the camera up to La Barillette and film a timelapse. From this point of view you can see the whole of the Lac Léman. You can see from Geneva to Villeneuve on a good day. With a weather system like we have at the moment you can watch clouds form and dissipate. You can also see the shadows left by those clouds and more. With a standard timelapse camera you would see just a small part of the scene. With a 360 timelapse you could look out towards the Alps or around at the cars and hikers. You could look up at the mast and more.

I say that you could do this because there are high winds up there and you need a heavy tripod to keep the camera from falling and breaking one of the lenses. You also need to find something to do while the camera is working.

Yesterday morning was clement, we had clouds and blue sky so I was able to try a timelapse. I set the camera to take an image every ten seconds for an unlimited amount of time. The settings on this camera give you great flexibility with timing. You can go from every eight seconds to setting a much longer amount of time.
timelapse(2)You can set the interval to take pictures from every 8 seconds to every 60 minutes and 59 seconds.

You can either preview the image as a spherical image or as an equirectalinear image. Once you are happy with the settings you can start capturing. In yesterday’s test I was able to get more than 600 images on a single battery charge when the camera was set to take a picture every ten seconds.

The obvious limiting factor with this camera for timelapses is battery life. As soon as the camera is plugged in to a power source it turns off and starts to charge. As a result charging and taking pictures at the same time is not possible. There is also the minor issue of having the USB charge port right next to the tripod screw. You would need to modify a plate to charge the camera at the same time. The camera lasted for about 100 minutes before the battery died.

Post production

With the Ricoh Theta S and final Cut Pro X post production is efficient. You are dealing with images with a resolution of 5,376 x 2,688 pixels. That qualifies as UHD. You can import the image sequences from your timelpases straight from FCP X cutting out the need for other apps. Once the images are imported your your event you can open a new project at full resolution. I added the UHD image sequence to the timeline, created a compound clip and then used the speed tool to adjust the duration.

I still need to do some research about how to export the edit at full resolution. As I was given an error message I decided to export the video as 1920×960. This worked flawlessly. I used the Spatial Media Metadata Injector to add the necessary image meta data and then uploaded the injected video to youtube.

I look forward to finding ideas and projects that will take advantage of what 360 timelapse videos have to offer. I feel that it provides us with an opportunity to better understand how time and light evolve in a spherical environment.