Google Street View allows you to have a 360 degrees panoramic view of a particular location, and you can move around to look up and down, left and right and so. Finwe & Kolor, two European start-ups, have gone further, as they do not only use pictures, but their 360 panorama video solution records videos in 6 to 12 directions simultaneously, and create a 360 degrees panoramic videos than you can watch on your smartphone or, even better, in a virtual reality kit for a complete immersion.
Let’s go through all the steps and equipment required to make and watch 360 videos:
- Recording – You’ll need a mount system for 6 GoPro Hero cameras from companies like Freedom360 or 360 Heros. They also have rigs for 12 cameras for 3D 360 degrees videos, but I’m not sure this is supported by the video software yet. You just need to start all cameras simultaneously with one of the remotes. The kits starts at $500 up to over $2,000 if you plan to go diving, cameras not included.
- Creating 360 Videos – Your six independent 1080p videos will then need to be stitched together using Autopano Video add-on via Autopano Giga or Autopano Pro software by Kolor to generate a 360×180 degrees video. The software itself costs several hundreds dollars, and can usually added as an option when you purchase the camera mounts.
- 360 Video Playback
When you got 6 1080p stitched together, you’ve got a 6k video that needs to be played by a custom player. There are three ways to experience 360 panoramic videos.
- Smartphone – Install Finwe’s 360 Video Ball app for Android and iOS, or Kolor Eyes app for iOS. The Android version of Kolor Eyes in available to beta testers. 360 Video Ball app some sample video, and you can manually add a link to other 360 videos. (Can not play anything on MT6589T phone). Kolor Eyes app allows you to play 360 videos from the gallery, and input links to 360 videos. The app is quite a large download (200+ MB) because of the sample, but 1080p samples could play, although with some tearing, and the only 4K sample could not play as my phone does not support 4K video decoding
- Virtual Reality Kit – A better way to enjoy 360 videos might be to use vrAse augmented reality kit, which leverage your smartphone, and simply runs the same apps. The vrAse team also launched a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, but they have yet to ship products. Once it’s available for retail it will cost about 100 Euros.
- Web Browser – You can use an HTML5 player in your web browser to watch videos and upload your own via eyes.kolor.com. For some reasons. it does not work well at all in my computer (Firefox and Chrome), and the videos just play one or two seconds before stopping, and maxing out my CPU cores.
Charbax interviewed Juha Kela, Finwe CEO, at Mobile World Congress 2014 explaining how it all works, and showcasing the GoPro mount system, vrAse virtual reality case, and video playback on a Google Nexus 5 and another tablet. I was a bit unlucky with my tests, but as you can see when it works, it looks pretty awesome.
A full setup with mounting system, software, and 6 GoPro Hero cameras should cost around $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the selected GoPro cameras, and mounting system.
You can visit Finwe 360 video page for further details.