Climbing Virtual Reality, Uniform and Grip

Climbing Virtual Reality tuition is an interesting idea. Learning to climb is fun because it is a physical and intellectual challenge. The first step is to familiarise yourself with the sensations of climbing and learning to see where foot holds are and where hand holds are. When you begin the hand holds are easy to find and hold on to but as you progress and attempt more challenging routes you need to develop finger strength to hold on to those holds. Climbing Virtual Reality tuition is an interesting idea.

In some cases though finger strength is not the only challenge. You also need to learn to read the route and to know which hand to hold a hand hold with, which foot to use on a foot hold and how to reach the next hold. You can learn through trial and error which is fun or you can climb other routes and wait until someone who knows the route that has you flummoxed decides to climb that route.

Virtual reality Goggles are an alternative way of learning how to climb a route. In the example provided in the video above Grip by Uniform provides climbers with an alternative. In their example they speak about Shauna coxsey participating in the project and allowing people to film her as she is coached on how to climb a route. In other locations it could just as easily be the route setters.

It’s interesting to see such a project because the question we often hear people ask is “How did you climb that route” and the answer is often “I don’t remember”. With this technology it would be easy to provide people with guidance for the routes they find more challenging.

It is a new and immersive form of tuition which could help people progress and learn climbing skills more efficiently and within a shorter amount of time.

Watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse

Time-lapse videos are fun because we can see something happen faster or slower than real time. By watching this content we gain a better understanding of the world and how it works. For years I have been filming time-lapses and the results can be fun. In some cases we record time-lapses with video cameras and at other times we set an interval timer to take pictures every so many seconds. In this post you will be watching clouds form as a 360 timelapse.

I have chosen to share both the flat image and the spherical image. The reason for sharing both versions is to give you an overview of how objects move in both.

Spherical Version

With this version look to your right and you will be able to watch the clouds move through space. As they move you will see them grow thicker and then cover the sun. At this point everything gets darker. If you watch this video a few times you can watch the landscape change.

The next step would be to get a 360 camera somewhere high during a total eclipse of the sun by the moon. During such events you will see a grey mask cross over the landscape, you will see birds fly away and then everything will be dark. You can then turn around and watch totality, the corona and then the reverse process. The time is right for eclipse chasers to be at the right place to capture such an event as a 360 video.

Flat Version

With the flat version you can imagine where you would aim a standard camera. Would you try to get the clouds that are forming over the mast or would you prefer to look out towards La Dôle and watch as the large clouds form and float to block off the sun? In this image you can see from Villeneuve and Lausanne to Geneva and the Salève.

Having such a wide angle of view allows you to see everything that is going on in front of and behind the camera. The timelapse is a sequence of pictures rather than video so in future I hope to export the video in a higher resolution.

Rain and the Gear 360

Rain and the Gear 360 are well suited to the weather we are currently subjected to in Switzerland. For the past month and a half we have had rain almost every single day. As a result of this it has limited the number of opportunities to go out and get 360 footage.

360 camera rigs are not designed for rain. Most 360 rigs involve at least six non weatherproof cameras and rigs that are designed for dry rather than wet conditions. To go out in this rain would drown the equipment. With additional funds you could film in these conditions with weatherproof gear but the cost increases. Add to this that camera systems like the Ricoh Theta S prefer clear skies and nice weather for taking video and you see that it is not really worth the effort.

By the end of September the Samsung Gear 360 should provide us with a simple to carry, weatherproof 360 camera which could be fun to take canyoning (if they make a specialist housing) or hiking for doing other sports activities where weather proofing is a useful feature. The trend to make devices at least splash proof is good.

Another nice feature of this camera is the ability to use 200 gigabyte SDHC cards. with these cards you can record for hours. When the card is full or when you’re changing location you can change cards in seconds and continue working on a project. With the Ricoh Theta S you can record for 45 minutes before you need to transfer the footage, clear the memory and start recording again.

With 200 gigabytes of storage one concept that I would love to test is 360° time lapse videos. You could fix the camera to your bike, to a canoe or to some other object and set it to take a picture at regular intervals. So far I have not seen a mention of an interval recording mode but with 200 gigabytes you can record for hours without worrying about storage. You could change the speed in post production.

This camera records in UHD rather than HD quality. Video recording is at a resolution of 3840×1920. 360 videos taken with this camera should be more pleasant to view as a result.

The 360° video eco-system is still in it’s infancy and most 360 video solutions require people to use a number of cameras. Both Samsung and Ricoh provide all in one solutions along with software to stitch the images ready for post production. They are helping to democratise the medium both by making production cheaper but also by enabling people to produce content. This increase in content will encourage more people to get VR goggles which in turn will justify increasing the budget of 360 video production budgets. It will go from being a niche product to being mainstream.

The Immersive Video Experience

 

I was at the World Virtual Reality Forum in Crans Montana this weekend as a volunteer. During this time I was able to try many of the demonstrations and get a real feel for the potential of 360° and immersive videos. I was also able to listen to people comment on what they appreciated about the experiences and what they did not like.

Vulkane in 3D und 360

One of my favourite experiences was Vulkane in 3D und 360. I worked at this exhibit two out of the three days helping two people at a time every three minutes experience this. I had watched a number of videos before this one and when I watched this one I said Wow because the experience was so beautiful. The quality is excellent and there are some vistas that are spectacular. We are familiar with watching volcanic eruptions but with this experience we are watching the scene as if we are there. As the volcano erupts we can see the projectiles and follow their course through the sky. This is a novel experience for many of us.

Chernoby VR project – 360

Another experience that I got to try and received good feedback from was the Chernobyl 30th Anniversary experience. In this case you launch an app on the mobile phone and you can see a number of videos. You have interviews, videos of locations and interactive content. With this experience you can listen to an interview with a woman who still lives in Chernobyl. As she talks you can look around the room in which she lives. This provides you with a better understanding of whom she is.

Immersive reality - Chernobyl
This experience was in a room with green light, a smoke machine and some jerrycans. Two people at a time could spend about 15 minutes going through the interactive content.

Reframe Iran

Reframe Iran is another 360° immersive documentary experience. This experience was appreciated by some and disliked by others. If you study documentary making you are familiar with Cinéma Verité, direct cinema and the fly on the wall concept. In this documentary a 360° camera was put in between the journalist and camera crew and the artist whom is speaking. As the artist speaks you can look around the room. You can look at the journalist, at the artist’s work, the couch in one corner or the bookshelf. You are in the room with them, like a fly on the wall. If you appreciate direct cinema and Cinéma Verité then you will enjoy this documentary.

DEFROST – The Series

Defrost was filmed using the Nokia Ozo and puts you in the place of a woman who was cryogenically frozen and then reanimated. For this experience we wore Samsung VR headsets and sat in a wheel chair. We were the re-animated woman. The experience was interesting because it allows you to feel empathy for whom you, as the viewer are meant to be.

The Difficult People Project.

The difficult People project has as it’s aim to provide people with an immersive experience in to the world as perceived by people with a different perspective on the world. In the first film we saw the world as someone would with hyperactivity. A second video was produced for the World VR forum and showed the world as someone with OCD would see it. This is a project that I personally contributed to with sound recording. The aim of the video was to provide you, as the viewer, with an experience of what it is like to go shopping with the disorder. You see the coping mechanisms via her interior monologue. You hear her worry that people are watching her, that people will see that she buys three of everything and that she may steal if she is alone in the aisle.

On the first day of the conference I was helping people with this experience and as I received feedback I started to see 360° or immersive videos as literature because of the way in which it enables people to feel empathy for the subject of the video. Some people said that they were curious to see whether they suffered from the same problems.

Viens

Viens can be translated as either “come” or “follow me”. I saw this as art, as an experiment which took advantage of what 360° videos have to offer. The camera is hanging from the ceiling and you see a group of people standing around the camera. At first they are hidden behind plastic but as you get further in to the video you see nude people standing. As the film progresses the camera changes position. At one point the camera is lower and you are looking up at giants. At another moment you seeing the action from above.

In each sequence you have the choice of which action you most want to watch. In this experience you choose what you want to see, rather than the camera operator or director. You are in control. You are the camera operator. This video really demonstrates the power of 360° videos. It demonstrates how immersive film making is an opportunity to think about what works well as an immersive experience and what works well as conventional video content.

The new role of camera operators

Immersive video content requires the content maker to think as a camera operator, to think about what is in front of the camera and what is behind it. It requires a new way of lighting a scene and a new way of recording sound. Wireless technology makes this much easier. In hallway conversations I heard people speak about how important it is to think as much about what is going on in front of the camera as much as behind it. If there is nothing interesting to see behind the person then normal video is enough.

Content duration is also relevant. Virtual reality and immersive experiences are still new to people. The experience can be tiring so short content is best, for now. When people get used to immersive story telling program length can grow.

The challenge now is to find subjects that lend themselves well to immersive story telling.