How to: 360 degrees

Sometimes things in the network go faster then even optimists believe. 360 degree videos (and, of course, photos) have become so fast established that nobody will be amazed anymore by presenting such content. On the contrary, there are topics and areas, as 360 degrees has become a matter of course, for example, a 360 ° view of destinations.

This also has to do with the fact that the equipment needed for a good 360-degree production is now cheap and comparatively easy to handle. Rather, the question arises again: When and why and where are 360-degree images even useful? And how can you tell a good story? In short, then:

How and where do you best use 360 ​​degrees?

A few experiences from the sewing box: When I first experimented with the 360 ​​degree and the use of this format in storytelling about two years ago, the euphoria was great. The disillusionment, but shortly thereafter. First insight: Theoretically, you can use 360 ​​degrees almost anywhere. But real added value, real wow effects are rarely achieved. I do not want to talk you out of using 360 degrees. But rather encourage them to do it wisely. Above all there is always a question:


What brings me 360 ​​degrees compared to a conventional format?

Of course, you can look around the scene. But there are quite a few cases where you can just as well stay that way. I tried that on the Brenner Pass, when it was supposed to be closed for refugees. I am not sure whether this made sense. Presumably one could have told the story quite normally. Or not? Decide yourself.

Much easier I have the decision here fallen: diving in the Atlantic off Key Largo, that screams to do that in 360. Because you can take people with you, because I do not tell a long story and because you can literally look around there.

This eventually leads to a few questions that you should ask yourself before you start. If you answer one or more of them with ‘no’, at least you will not need to read this section any further. Because the question of 360 degrees was done.

  • The wow effect? Have you ever heard of a bit of video work? Such a wow effect should be included in the 5-shot rule in each sequence. So, a perspective, a panorama, an image that elicits such a “wow” from the viewer. For 360 degree shots, this wow effect is the only benchmark for the moment. Without “Wow” no 360 degrees. Do you have such a perspective?
  • Is it worth? You can also ask yourself a different question: Would you want to take a good friend privately to the place you want to film because he absolutely must have seen it? And another question: Why does it not a normal 16: 9 video at this point too? On the other hand, if you think that this place needs to be experienced and seen, then get the camera out.
  • Will I make the user look at the whole panorama? A question that is interesting and important in advance: is there anyone who can guide the audience as a kind of “guide” through the area? Can I work with texts (inserts)? Or perhaps you can find points and places directly on the spot where the user can orient himself? The best 360-degree video is only so average, if you can do nothing but look around a bit.

The trick is: Of course, 360-degree videos are not a classically interactive format. But they can not exactly be called linear. Because as a producer of such a video you never know exactly where in the 360-degree universe the user is currently. For example, if you’re moderating (whether on or off), remember that a phrase like “And here we go …” can go pretty wrong.

Which equipment do I need?

Anyone who wants it highly professional can assemble a “GoPro cube”. It consists of six GoPros filming together. But then you end up quickly at a cost of around 2500 euros. And if you want to assemble six cameras and test them for functionality before each shoot is also an open question. This solution is really only for professionals.

A single GoPro 360-degree camera is now also available (GoPro Fusion). I wanted to use them as a replacement for my Nikon Key Mission, but the reviews are rather mixed. And after being waterproof only to a depth of 5 meters, it also drops out for diving.

A good middle ground: the Kodak Pixpro SP360. Small disadvantage: Your picture angle is a maximum of 235 degrees. That is, a picture has a small blind spot. Even if that does not always have to be bad – it’s just not about “real” 360 degree material. However, that can be compensated with the so-called “dual pack”. Two cameras are assembled into a cube. You then have two cameras that make in high-quality resolution “real” 360 degrees. However, the recordings then still have to be gestitcht.

I have briefly described my Nikon Key Mission 360 in the video section of this series. Your biggest advantage: waterproof up to 15 meters, shockproof and very, very robust. The image quality is neat, the app, with which you can control the camera from a mobile phone, a total desaster.

As you can see: I have not found the one, unqualified recommendation yet. My impression is that in the first large 360 ​​degree boom, many manufacturers threw something on the market, which was only moderately mature. Let’s hope that will get better soon.

At the other end of the scale are relatively cheap 360-degree lenses for smartphones. But they are not really suitable for reasonably high-quality productions. For a fast-built part of social networks, it’s enough. The prices start at 50 euros. Sure, the painstaking cobbling over the Google Street View app is also a possibility. A free one. But if you have really done that, then you quickly suspect: This is too time-consuming and too cumbersome, as it comes for high-quality storytelling in question. Especially since the pictures taken with the phone can also be used only within the app or on Facebook. And: only photos, no videos!

Of course you should have something like a monopod. You can barely turn it out of hand even at 360 degrees.

And what about software?

In the meantime too much to list everything. For the user, the whole story has become simple: Most browsers and also sites like Facebook and YouTube support 360 degrees. That’s a bit more difficult for the production. As an Adobe user, the thing for me is comparatively comfortable. In the combination of After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop can already do a lot. My impression is that the software is similar to the hardware: there is still a lot in the flow. And also a lot of air up.

Jakubetz recommends

A whole series of large media now handle 360 ​​degree videos. Even if it can currently be determined that the boom has declined somewhat. The New York Times, for example, had a “Daily 360” section on the front page for several months, which has since disappeared (nice indication of how hard it is to find something every day that looks really good in 360). You can find some wonderful moments here. And who wants to get an overview of the more than 400 produced 360-degree videos of the NYT, will find it here.

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