360 timelpase videos

By richard | 16/06/2016

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.
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.

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