Archive for the ‘News and Announcements’ Category

 

 

Visual Connections is the largest annual visual media trade show in the world. This networking event is exclusively for image/footage/art buyers.

360Cities is attending the “Visual Media Expo Chicago 2016” event this week to introduce the potential of your high-quality 360-degree panoramas to a new audience of advertisers and publishers. 

If you in or are around Chicago on May 5th, 2016, come to see us at the Ivy Room in downtown Chicago. We’d be glad to see you!

Install the new 360Cities Extension to your Chrome browser, just click here. You will be able to enjoy an interactive panorama on each tab you open in your browser. You’ll also be able to search on Google or 360cities.net.
It looks amazing, doesn’t it?

 

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The 360Cities tab extension allows you to:


• View an interactive 360-degree photo on each new tab on your Chrome browser
• Pan 360 degrees around and 180 degrees up and down for a fully spherical view
• Zoom in and out to see amazing detail
• View the panorama in full screen
• Choose from six different projections and two navigation modes
• Click to view the profile page of the photographer on 360cities.net
• Share the panorama on social media and embed in your non-commercial website or blog
• Click on a shopping cart to license the image for editorial or commercial usage
• Search Google and 360Cities

 

 

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Stanford’s Virtual Reality Lab Turned Me Into a Cow, Then Sent Me to the Slaughterhouse

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“Please turn to your left until you see the fence where you started,” says the voice. “You have been here for 200 days and reached your target weight. So it is time for you to go to the slaughterhouse.”

I was not expecting this. A wave of sadness and horror hits me with the word “slaughterhouse.” The suddenness of the announcement, the feeling of being trapped, the guilt and responsibility I feel for my cow avatar, who I somehow feel is me, but who I simultaneously feel is younger and more innocent and who is, I should point out, a vegetarian— it’s remarkably heavy for having been in this virtual life only a few minutes. The part of me that is a cow dutifully walks toward the fence. The part of me that is a person is yelling. It’s unbidden, startling even me, an anger borne of nervousness. “That is brutal!” I shout at no one in particular.

 

Half Of Kids Can’t Tell The Difference Between Virtual Reality And Regular Reality

 

Stanford University partnered with Sesame Street and used Oculus technology to study, among other things, what it does to the perceptual system of a child. Based on the director of lab Jeremy Bailenson’s findings so far, the answer is: it kinda messes with it. Most recently he noted that when children are exposed to a virtual experience, a week later 50 percent of them remember the event as real. As early as 2009, his data showed that virtual reality caused significantly more false memories in elementary schoolers than any other type of imagery. If you thought their imaginary friend was a little creepy, get ready to deal with their imaginary double life.

 

Virtual Reality In The Music Industry Needs To Be A Tool, Not Just An Experience

We also need to be wary, however, about translating all musical activities to VR. Just as the Uber model does not translate well to other industries, so the VR model will probably die if we attempt to apply it to every possible corner of the music business. Again, the key opportunities come from gaps in trust. I already trust platforms like Facebook, Skype and Twitter for my social networking, so I will probably not use VR to hold remote meetings or conversations with friends and professionals—but I do not always trust friends who tell me that one seat in the theater is ten times better than the next. I personally trust Spotify to give me any song that I want, so I won’t necessarily go through the hassle of strapping a device to my head to stream music—but I do not always trust streaming services to provide accurate metadata.

We play CCP’s first attempt at a physical, virtual reality ‘sport’ProjectArena02_1920.0.0Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 07.02.36

“No one really knows what it feels like to hit a flying fireball that bounces off the walls,” Godat explained, “but if you were making something that feels real like with a metal sword in your hand people expect to feel the clang when you hit a shield. We’ve tried to steer clear of those elements just because you can, the field is wide open.”

Your brain doesn’t expect your virtual shield or disc to “feel” a certain way, because it’s so clearly not real. This, counter-intuitively, makes the experience feel more real when you’re inside the game, to the extent that I had to fight a small bit of panic every time I deflected the enemy’s disc. It felt like an actual threat, and it took me a few minutes before I felt comfortable enough to smash it back at the person on the other side of the room.

Facebook Shows Off How They Might Use Virtual Reality

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 07.04.51The best part of the demo happens at the end, when Schroepfer goes to give his friend a high five. His buddy makes a dap fist, and they wind up doing a VR version of the “Now I’m grabbing your fist with my open palm because I thought we were doing a high-five.”

 

VR headset shipments ‘to boom’ in 2016

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More than nine million virtual reality (VR) headsets will be shipped in 2016, suggests research by analyst firm IDC.

The estimate is far more than the 350,000 headsets that were sent out last year, it said.

Some of the growth will be down to the first consumer-ready versions reaching customers, said the firm.

However, most numerous will be the “screenless” systems that use smartphones as their main display.

IDC said it expected about two million headsets from Oculus, HTC and Sony to be shipped to consumers in 2016. The Oculus Rift headset began shipping on 28 March, HTC Vive headsets are due to start being dispatched this month and Sony’s PlayStation VR should be available in October.

 

 

Today Facebook dropped a bomb on the VR Video world. Things are speeding up even faster.

Voila! Brian Cabral unveils the new UFO flying into our VR world!

360-degree Video is hot these days. The world of Cinema/film production, live broadcasting, corporate marketing, documentary filmmaking, and journalism, are all clamoring to figure out where this new medium of expression fits in to their existing ecosystem. Is VR Video a flop like 3D TV or is it a fantastic new way of capturing and viewing the world that will make our flat screens look antiquated in only a few years’ time? Will we wonder in a few years how we possibly lived without it? Are we now in another exciting time similar to the launch of the iPhone, where everyone who gets in early will be innovators and pioneers in a space that will be completely mainstream in a short time?

Only one year ago, there was basically just one 360 camera on the market: The Ricoh Theta. This little pocket-sized marvel of hardware and optical engineering really nailed one thing: It made (sort of low resolution but still good looking on phone) 360 photos. Then they updated it to make videos. It’s still very much the low-end 360 camera, but it has crossed the threshold of acceptable quality for enough use cases that it has become the best selling camera at B&H. Yes, this weird little camera has legs.

Now we have lots of 360 cameras out there. Tiny ones, huge ones. Audaciously expensive ones. Some are for sale, some are not. Some are real, some are vaporware. Some are shipping, some are nearly shipping. The world of 360 cameras is a bit like the automobile industry 100 years ago. All shapes and sizes, no standards, nobody really agrees on what is going to work best or what is going to stick. It is a fantastic world where even small startups are making a big splash and getting the world’s attention.

And today we welcome a new 800 pound gorilla to the scene. This 800 pound gorilla is blue, and it’s giving a thumbs up :)

The Facebook 360 Camera

17 cameras, 6K resolution, with 30 gigabits per second of raw capture. This thing is formidable, and as Facebook says, they want to jumpstart the VR video ecosystem by open sourcing the plans for this camera so that anyone can build it themselves. The stitching code will also be open sourced, and it is a doozy: using optical flow algorithms, the stereo (so called “3d”) image derived from these cameras will be first-rate.

What is the end game with this camera, really?

My guess is that this high-end camera will allow studios, production companies, and broadcasters to build their own high end camera to shoot production-quality work at a fraction of the cost of other cameras. This one costs around $30K while other solutions of a similar caliber might cost $60Kor more.

The software that has been built for this camera is not to be underestimated. It is probably far more impressive than the hardware itself, the result of years/decades of research in computer vision, and I expect that the output of this camera, using the image processing pipeline that is also provided open-source with the camera, will really be impressive.

While this 17-lens camera is large and fairly unwieldy for some types of shooting — you can’t wear this thing on your head, or shoot inside a car with it — I would expect that this initial hardware configuration, where many basic issues around hardware architecture and specifications have been addressed, that it will allow the DIY community to adapt this setup with more or fewer lenses to accomodate different scenes and different types of shooting. We can expect other hardware configurations — 6 cameras, 8 cameras, and so on — with adapted software processing to still produce workable stereo — to emerge from this platform.

This is a fantastic day for the world of VR Video and I’m even more excited about our future than before. Facebook is showing they are all-in on the VR ecosystem, and want to help the community of VR video creators evolve and develop this exciting field as quickly as possible.

These are exciting times.

Jann Lipka is an excellent panoramic photographer living in Sweden. You can find his personal website at http://fotograf.nu/log/.
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When did you first become obsessed with photography? And what else are you obsessed with, besides photography?
Photography was in my mind from childhood as my father worked periodically with photography.
but it seemed to be difficult to make a living from it  ( my father worked mostly as editor  )
After a couple of year at Technical University of Warsaw I went North to Sweden and
decided to give it a try with a two year photography education .
I came to think of that there is a competition whatever you do  – even driving a taxi
But for me photography was more fun :-) and I thought with some talent and
How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?
 
 A  good customer of mine was working with commercial  building  that had a special view –  he asked
me about shooting 180 degrees panorama of that  ( to be used as a billboard )
.  I quickly discovered the world of curvy straight lines and  that job financed a Manfrotto 303 head .
( I still use it – but only for special projects )  After a while I wanted to do that spinning QT VR pictures.
And I had some luck with getting some good customers for 360 shoots.
one break through was 360 virtual tour of Wikileaks server hall here in Stockholm.
Are you a professional or amateur photographer?
I make my living as a photographer since 20 years,
Panorama photography is quite small part of my work .
I do mostly  corporate / advertising and editorial – mostly portraits and
people photography.
Do you travel much to do your photography?
It happens every couple of weeks  but I work mostly locally in Stockholm.
What kind of photography do you like the best? and of what kinds of things?
I enjoy mostly news photography and photojournalism –  even very advanced commercial images
always fade very quickly …
That is probably the reason for my own  360 work I would love to do more action panoramas like this one
http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/protesten-inifran/
barely possible to make because of fast movement.
The frozen moment  combined with 90 Mb of details – i love it.
What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR, as we know it now, hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?
Regarding still images maybe the market will improve because of so many huge companies like Samsung are
pushing customers into VR –  Sweden is a country with people very much ROI oriented and customers tend to
invest in imaging ( like 360 ) if they can clearly see  that it is profitable – and I think still  the most of them find
360 photography is a bit gimmicky – and most people don’t really know how to explore it.
So as always it is  good to find customers  that personally enjoy  360 imaging .
But sometimes it is easy to forget that 360 images are quite time demanding – Still image can be
“consumed”  faster then in one second.
 
Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?
I’m waiting eagerly for coming video cameras from Sphericam ,
but also consumer oriented Nikon and Samsung.  At least 4k.
360 cameras delivered from Camera companies is a good sign.With still images I think technology is more mature – can be polished but I don’t expect miracles.
I shoot with Sony A7R II and like its good dynamic range. ( but use it only for pano work and video – for
other type of work I shoot canon and Hasselblad )All ” miracle / camera cluster ” solutions  ( like Google promoted IRIS ) are something I would never use for proper
still panorama – i am a strong believer that parallax should be avoided for non stereo work and that is best done with one
lens rotated around NPP.
What is your opinion about 360 Video?
360 Video is definitely exploding   but there is so much issues to be solved .
I think 4K is the way to go because of bandwith and of course even that is quite data intensive.
i would love to have a two lens solution – or maximum 3
. 6 cameras  solutions scare  me because 6 time larger
possibility that something will overheat :-)  or break.
As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?
Two things – Most people see 360 images as a spinning pictures only but don’t realize that those can be viewed in extreme detail
/ enlargement.
Regular  panorama from me is 120 Megapixel large and that means a lot of detail .
Normal  still images are almost never published  in zoomable format.
so with 360 there is so much more to explore for those who want to get into details.Second  – The “values”  that 360 photography are build upon are very often in line with what  a lot of companies want to stand for
( and also very much those are the values that Swedish society wants to emphasize )Open, inviting, participating, honest and engaging.

 All that are things that 360 photography is about

How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

I’m pretty sure that 360 video is going to be a part of regular video work  .
I already get some calls from  large  video production companies that only want to know what camera I use  ( and they buy it )
They  see 360 imaging as a technology and don’t understand its strong sides ( filing in first person perspective, small

cramped interiors etc etc )  and just put a 360 camera in a middle of a room – the 360 story telling is more complex then that.
Good quality  360 streaming will be a  game changer for  video-journalism.Still image panos  using only one camera / lens will  still be a niche product that needs an expert to be properly done.
With all those lovely quirks and workarounds. Push for more VR content is a good thing but with that 120 Megapixels panos are
overkill.  For the best play to enjoy a proper panorama is still a 30 inch display :-)
Add any other questions/answers you think are relevant or interesting :)
With 360 we are still in a phase when technology itself is a fascinating achievement –
That is the reason this niche is mostly populated with computer people .
It will get much more interesting when artists and poets will start to tell their stories.
– for myself  i see it as a best tool for sharing experience of ” being there “.
JAnn_stadshuset

Choose Category, Subcategory and Time

 

We are pleased to announce the launch of the 360Cities automated panorama licensing engine. 360Cities licensing customers will now be able to search for, select, purchase and download limited use licenses in a familiar shopping cart checkout experience. This will allow licensing customers to purchase and download images within minutes, which in turn will help increase your chances of earning royalties from your 360Cities panoramas.

 

 

 

 

The launch of our licensing engine, coupled with our new Distribution Partnership with Getty Images, provides you a unique chance to monetize your 360 images. 360Cities has licensed thousands of our members’ images and paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties to our members around the world. We expect the rate of growth to increase steadily going forward and we’re pleased to have you on board.

 

You can read detailed information about how the licensing platform works for clients here.

 

LIcense Checkout

 

Please note that the prices that appear in the Licensing Engine for the limited use (rights-managed) licenses are list prices. The actual price may be lower if we agree to specific terms with clients on a case-by-case basis. Of course we strive to do what is best for all parties involved in order to grow both our licensing business and your royalties.

Gerald Blondy is a nice man. Look at him, standing on an iceberg.  I love this photo.

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Gerald is a Frenchman living in the deep hinterlands of Moravia. In this remote yet civilized place he builds panoramic photography equipment as Bushman Panoramic. These tripods and panoramic tripod heads are compact, light, well-built devices that are a pleasure to use. I love my Eben tripod, and I want to get a sandbug panohead next – it looks tiny and nice.

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When did you first become obsessed with photography?

My first obsession with photography came in 1998 when I borrowed a film camera from a friend and took it to blues festival. I was lucky to be able to enjoy so much good music when I was living in Virginia and Washington D.C. At that moment I realized how much I enjoyed capturing these moments. I was obsessed with music, acoustics and sound recording. I didn’t get to photography until I was working In Democratic Republic of Congo.

Living in the bush with absolutely nothing around during my free time the only thing I had was time and a Minolta A2 (8Mpix) in my hands and nothing else. Ever since I have my camera around.

When I came to Czech Republic in 2008. There I got into panoramic photography and started making plans and making my first panoramic heads. Some months later I decided to develop a series of products and later create Bushman Panoramic. So now 7 years of full time panoramic photography testing and creating.

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How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?

I think my first attempt to stitch some 120° panorama was on top of a hill in Congo.

http://virtualvisit.bushman-panoramic.com/kilembe/

I started simple stitch with some hand held panorama, and then started to tried to do complete 360 by reading the process on the Internet. It was catastrophic and so disappointing actually. I actually got into 360 by focusing on the panoramic head. So all my energy was actually testing and developing my first head that was called “Panoramax” then later on “Kalahari”. As the head evolved the shooting went faster and the stitch as a result became easier too.

 

Do you travel much to do your photography?

Yes as much as I can, mostly for testing and taking product photos. I get nervous when I don’t travel. I

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What kind of photography do you like the best?

My preference is by far the 360 in little planet projection. I love doing them and thinking “little planet“.

 

What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?

For sure very exciting and interesting to see so many project evolving and working on so many aspects. It is really going in all direction; it is still very new for the grand public. It has open a complete new world of possibilities and options.

 

Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?

Many names come up but of course since many year a team like Airpano are doing really stunning work.

 

What is your opinion about 360 Video?

I find it very exciting. Since 3 years to see the fast evolution of 360 video. Going from 360 photos to 360 videos. This is offering a complete new perspective for VR and so much more possibilities.

 

As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?

As a manufacture the trend is quite evident it is smaller technologies with higher quality output. Doing more with less. This is how 24months ago we pushed the development of SANDBUG panoramic head dedicated for mirrorless cameras.

Photographers will always want to control and decide how they take a photo to make a 360 otherwise “A/S/M” modes would not be on cameras.

 

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How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

Panoramic photography has been produced since decades. Panorama format is very pleasant and comfortable to look at.

Now it is getting simpler, easier, and quicker to produce a 360° panorama.

Unity’s VR Editor Lets You Create VR Content Like a God

http://www.roadtovr.com/unitys-vr-editor-lets-you-create-vr-content-like-a-god/

“You can zoom out and in for different scale operations, but the most powerful aspect of the Chess Board is to allow creators to rapidly drop assets into your scene wit minimal scrolling or physical movement. This sounds fairly pedestrian, but watch as West uses the Chess Board view to grab and move an entire mountain range via the board and the world around her alter to match. Aside from making workflow in VR more efficient, as you’re in VR you instantly get a feel for the scale of the object that’s being moved and whether your intended new location for it works. Designing just as you might were you a God.”

 

One Program Lets You Use Your Entire PC In VR Without Any Fuss

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/03/one-program-lets-you-use-your-entire-pc-in-vr-without-any-fuss/

2D games also don’t require a great deal of horsepower to run while in Virtual Desktop. “My app is built on top of DirectX and it is very lightweight,” Godin added in another thread. “It’s very optimized. The impact on the GPU is very low. I’m able to play HOTS with a 770 in VR fluidly to give you an example.”

Virtual Desktop launches on March 28 and will cost US$15, according to Godin. A demo of the program for both the Rift’s development kits is available now via Virtual Desktop’s Steam page.

Note that you’ll want Windows 10 to get the best experience though, as Windows 7 reportedly “doesn’t have low latency APIs to capture the desktop at high frame rates to make a decent enough experience”.

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Virtuix Omni Is New And Improved – Commercial Release Tentatively Slated For Q3 2016

http://uploadvr.com/omni-commercial-release/

Ergonomically, Adams highlighted the harness and ring system that now eschews the previous rock-climbing style and instead, “wraps around your legs instead of your crotch. This has been farm more comfortable for people especially those who use the system for an extended period of time.”

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Sex Ed in VR Can Prepare Young Women for Actual Sex

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/sex-ed-in-vr-can-prepare-young-women-for-actual-sex

A box pops up on the right corner of your screen. It feeds you lines like “Hey, I was just wondering, when was your last STD test?” or “Do you have any condoms?” You choose neither. Pressing forward, you move to the bed. A buzz resonates and the screen freezes: AT-RISK BEHAVIOR, it reads. You are promptly redirected to a 3D tutorial. TRY AGAIN.

Once your turn is over, you remove the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and pass it to your classmate. She places it on her head and the simulation kicks in outside her date’s dorm room.

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‘Cardboard Enabler’ Opens Google’s VR Library to Gear VR, No Root Required

http://www.roadtovr.com/cardboard-enabler-opens-googles-vr-library-gear-vr-no-root-required/

Google Cardboard apps unfortunately can’t use the Gear VR’s special inertial measurement unit (IMU), but it does hook into your onboard touchpad for ease of use, letting you tap around with the touchpad just like you would with the capacitive button on most Cardboard viewers. The app also provides a handy step-by-step guide so you can enable Gear VR developer mode, letting you turn on global low-persistence for a much higher quality, motion-blur free experience with Cardboard apps—something we didn’t even know you could do.

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Ultrasound Used To Create 3D Shapes In Mid Air That Can Be Seen And Felt

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/ultrasound-used-create-3d-shapes-mid-air-can-be-seen-and-felt

The researchers, who are based at the University of Bristol, envisage that this innovative technology could transform the way that we use 3D haptic shapes. It could lead to touchable holograms to augment learning, or enhanced gaming experience by allowing users to feel features of the game, such as a football. It could even have a place in medicine, for example by allowing surgeons to physically feel tumors by exploring CT scans.

The method, which is described in ACM Transactions on Graphics, exploits an effect produced by ultrasound called acoustic radiation force, which is the scattering and absorption of the acoustic wave. By observing how sound waves behave when they hit an object, it is possible to deduce the shape of the object. The team also realized that it is possible to feel these shapes by focusing complex patterns of ultrasound onto our hands. In doing so, the researchers created air disturbances that could be felt on the skin and seen as floating 3D shapes. The ultrasound patterns cannot be seen by themselves, but the team visualized them by directing the device at a layer of oil so that depressions at the surface appeared as spots when illuminated.

 

BRITISH PATIENT TO UNDERGO WORLD’S FIRST VIRTUAL REALITY CANCER OPERATION

http://3dvrcentral.com/2016/03/25/british-patient-undergo-worlds-first-virtual-reality-cancer-operation/

An operation on a British cancer patient is to be live-streamed around the world using virtual reality technology designed to make viewers feel as if they are in the operating theatre.

It will be performed by Shafi Ahmed, a London surgeon who has been at the forefront of pioneering virtual reality technology in surgery, and who described next month’s operation as a gamechanger for healthcare innovation and education.

The patient, a British man in his 70s with cancer of the colon, has not been named but was said to be excited about the prospect of having his operation watched internationally.

Viewers will be able to watch the surgery at the Royal London hospital from 1pm on 14 April using a smartphone and virtual reality headset. The operation, which will be filmed by a number of specialist cameras placed above the operating table, is expected to last between two and three hours.

It will run a minute or so behind the surgery in case of any unforeseen complications.

Undated handout photo issued by Medical Realities of Dr Shafi Ahmed, consultant surgeon at St Bartholomew's Hospital. A British cancer patient is set to have his operation live streamed using virtual reality technology in a world first. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 25, 2016. Viewers will be able to watch the ground-breaking surgery next month using a smartphone and virtual reality headset, making them feel as if they are in the operating theatre. See PA story HEALTH VirtualReality. Photo credit should read: Medical Realities /PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 25, 2016. Viewers will be able to watch the ground-breaking surgery next month using a smartphone and virtual reality headset, making them feel as if they are in the operating theatre. See PA story HEALTH VirtualReality. Photo credit should read: Medical Realities /PA Wire

 

Facebook Launches Dynamic Streaming on Gear VR

http://www.vrfocus.com/2016/03/facebook-launches-dynamic-streaming-on-gear-vr/

Dynamic Streaming is a technology designed to aid the distribution of 360 degree video content. Showing only the pixels the viewer is looking at in the highest quality, Dynamic Streaming will scale down the rest of the viewable content to improve bandwidth demands and the speed at which streaming content can be transferred.

A number of 360 degree videos are available to demonstrate the technology, listed in the ‘Facebook trending’ section. Highlighted is a rhino video shot on a GoPro.

Dynamic Streaming is now available for all Gear VR owners without charge (though the video channel itself may in time offer premium content).

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Hulu Releases Virtual Reality App for Samsung Gear VR

http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/hulu-gear-vr-app-virtual-reality-1201737728/

Hulu had first announced its foray into VR back in September of 2015, but the company’s head of experience Ben Smith told Variety this week that his team decided to delay the release to get things right. “We really wanted to build an experience that we believe in,” he said.

Part of that was getting the app itself to work well, and find the best way for consumers to navigate through menus, as well as switch between immersive VR videos and Hulu’s traditional library content. But Hulu also wanted to be able to launch with enough immersive content to keep people interested beyond the first viewing session. Said Smith: “Novelty is not going to be a pleasing experience over time.”

Hulu isn’t the only video service eyeing VR. Netflix launched an app on the Gear VR last fall, but is currently giving its users access only to its regular catalog on the VR headset. Amazon recently indicated with a job posting that it is also interested in distributing VR content, but hasn’t officially announced its plans yet.

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Kevin Spacey is a virtual reality hypebeast

http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/25/11305054/kevin-spacey-virtual-reality-vr

“I am a believer. I’ve been very fortunate to go and see, right up to very recently, where it all is. And I think it’s going to be revolutionary for a whole lot of reasons. First of all, let’s just think about sports […] Imagine that you can buy a ticket to be on the sidelines of a live football match while it’s happening, and be able to go… [He mimes looking around] That’s going to happen. There’s no doubt. Or a concert, that’s going to happen. Paul McCartney did a VR thing last year. Beck did one. Quite remarkably you’re so close to the stage you literally feel you’re there.

I think [virtual reality] will end up being the natural home for capturing the living theater. Because finally we can take a three dimensional experience and retain it as a three dimensional experience. I think it will work in film. Maybe not an entire film, but I think we should try and see if there are five sequences in a movie where that device, whatever it’s going to be… I don’t think it’s going to be this forever. [He mimes a large headset over his face] This reminds me of the first cell phones. I think it’s going to be quite simple, much simpler as time goes by.

But I also think of [virtual reality] in terms of education. I mean, the classroom is probably the single space that we all know that hasn’t change at all since the beginning of time. It’s a chalkboard, seats, and a teacher up front. But imagine if we can bring the best teachers in the world into that classroom. And a student can put on a headset and suddenly be at the bottom of the ocean studying science. Or be in the Globe theater watching actors rehearsing in the 16th century. Or be in the Sydney Opera House while a concert is happening.”

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Marcus Hartmann has been a friend since we were introduced by fellow panorama guru Traugott Emrich. Traugott is the guy who built the Gigapanbot, which was my go-to solution for shooting gigapixels for a few years. The trouble with shooting gigapixel photos is that after you have shot a few thousand pictures that need to be joined together, most computers, even the ones that would normally be considered “workhorses”, are simply not going to work very well. So Traugott introduced me to Marcus Hartmann who worked at Fujitsu. In the workstation department. With computers containing 192 Gigabytes of ram. Yes, that is right, 192 Gigabytes. I can hear your nerd whistles going off from here. So I of course had to meet Marcus and try this out. The Fujitsu Europe headquarters is located in Augsburg, near Munich, about 4 hours drive away from Prague. Marcus and I hit it off – he’s also an avid panorama photographer, as well as a really talented sports photographer, usually oriented towards the paralympics. Since meeting for the first time we have met a number of times both in panoramic photography oriented events, and otherwise. Here is is personal website: http://www.photo-hartmann.de/

 

When did you first become obsessed with photography? And what else are you obsessed with, besides photography?

2002… I started as a music and band photographer. Before I was doing live band lighting and live video performance. Later I focused on sports mainly motorsports, alpine skiing and athletics. Other obsessions? Definitely! I am Vespa rider. I own three old Italian originals from the 70s and 80s, that I rebuild myself.

 

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How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?

While I was working in the product management of workstations at Fujitsu I came across Hugin, a free panoramic stiching app. The strong CELSIUS workstations worked nicely with this cool software. I shot my first panorama in Dresden/Germany during a computer simulations tradeshow in 2008. The demo equipment was already in place and had great demo applications for fast data processing. Some weeks later I got in contact with Traugott Emrich who is living close to my hometown Augsburg. We had some beers and discovered new ideas how to shoot highresolution gigapixel panoramas. Traugott mentioned a guy from Prag who was shooting a massive amount of photos in London with one of his selfmade panorama robots (GigaPanBot). The problem was, he did not have the compute capacities to process the data. One day later I got a call from Jeffrey Martin, the founder of 360cites. In 2010 I built the first CELSIUS “Monster” workstation with whooping 192GB of RAM, 32 CPU cores and 8 disks. London 80Gigapixel became a world record.

 

Are you a professional or amateur photographer?

I am Pro.

 

Do you travel much to do your photography?

Yes. My next big trip goes to the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.

 

What kind of photography do you like the best? and of what kinds of things?

I am a hunter style photographer since my beginning in 2003. I rarely organize shoots or scenes. I like to anticipate and wait for the right moment. I shot sports, fast action and strong characters.. I love fisheye lenses and shoot spheres from high poles.

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What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR, as we know it now, hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?

First I would like to separate VR into two different categories: Virtual reality and spherical content. VR, in the world of professional computer aided design, is a tool to visualize 3D scenes for reviews. Realistic scenes, products and models will be rendered on high performance computers with big graphic cards in realtime. In the mechanical design industry we can find 3D visualizations since a couple of years now. The power walls and projection caves in the automotive industry are a very good example. Stereoscopic displays and Stereo projections have been also very popular over the last 10 years. Stereo was also introduced to the gaming software industry some years ago. 3D-Gaming is very similar to 3D-Design, the only difference is quality and size. Games provide a wider range a variants and scenes, while CAD is focused on the best visual quality and high amount of details. Both, players and engineer are “working” in the 3D space. Since Oculus Rift is available, software vendors in both markets are integrating this technology. The calculations power of currents graphics hardware can satisfy gamers but not designers. They need greater detail and visual quality. Spherical content like panorama photos and 360 degree movies, are recordings of the real world. Most people call it VR (virtual reality) even it is not virtual! You can just “walk” on the timeline and turn our heard around. Spherical photos are great fun to shoot and to view. They can give you a immersive view of a real scenery. Watching gigapixel panoramas is even greater and you can discover so many things on such huge photos. But, hey you can not modify or change anything like you do in a game. No tools, no different viewpoint, just watching. VR for designers will stay the high end technology. I don’t think it will go mainstream ever. There is too much complexity in it. VR as we see it in computer games, panoramic photography, gigapixels and virtual tours are mainstream already. Since google streetview, most people know this kind of interactive images. 360video cameras for consumer are already available. The GoPro Rigs address professionals, but they need quite some post processing and adjustments. Theta S, Keymission360 or 360Fly can be used without processing. This is game changer and open the door to the consumer market. It has the potential to become a hype like action cams and selfie sticks. As Facebook and Samsung are pushing their products now, we can expect greater visibility for that kind of media and imagery. We still need some time to develop distribution channels for professional content. I don’t think 360video is going Mainstream in the next 12 month.

6 (1)

Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?

When Kolor joined the Gopro family I was thrilled.  Lets see was they will come along with. Facebook/Oculus and Samsung are about to push the market heavily. The GearVR as giveaway with Galaxy S7 is statement. Ricoh did it right with Theta, the first versions of the cameras are promising. But the resolution and quality is poor when you compare to GoPro rigs. Nikon can change a lot with their development resources and set a new level of quality and features with KeyMission360. I hope that Sphericam can beat the Nikon. The body design has already beat every other camera. Every company that focuses on content creation and distribution will be interesting.

 

What is your opinion about 360 Video?

Well, I would love to see 360video becoming more relevant in the future. I am not sure if it will be a success. Stereoscopic 3D made it into consumer TVs and now it seems to disappear. I wonder who will be the first company that enables 360 live video in their instant messaging.

6 (2)

As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?

There are some really bulky panorama heads out there. The first panohead I have every seen was the Manfrotto 303. Compare this massive device with the well build Bushman tools! After some DIY heads, I purchased  a Nodal Ninja Ring Mount + R1 Rotor for my Sigma 8mm fisheye. I am still using this head with a Canon 8-15 fisheye. If I was on a mirrorless camera, I would pick a head from TomShot360 plus a Samyang fisheye lens. In a nutshell, panoramic equipment hat to be simple, robust and small. For 360 video I found the Elmo Qbic panoramic rig with very interesting. It’s a pity, that its not very robust and has no option to sync frames and settings. Here is a great concept of a 360 ball camera: http://www.serveball.com/ Looks like many others are working on the same concept. At fmx2015 I met a guy from Belgium, Philippe Bekaert. He was showcasing a selfmade 360 camera rig and processing unit for realtime stiching and depthmap. Sadly he did never offer a commercial product. Here you can find a 360video he shot in 2011: https://vimeo.com/22985765

 

How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

I hope it will be part of our daily life. My dream is a life stream directly into a HMD.

 

 

 

If you have been involved in 360º photography for any length of time, then you have probably come across Bill Bailey.  Bill is a kind soul and a generous guy. If you have ever wondered what great customer service looks like from a company, you should observe Bill Bailey closely – he has a legion of fans and devoted friends that he has amassed over the years by treating people with kindness and respect. He has helped to grow Nodal Ninja from a new company, to one that plays a major role in the world of 360 photography.
I first came across Bill in the Panotools Yahoo group many years ago, and since then I have met him many times at many conferences and panoramic photography-related events. His cheerful demeanor and Hawaiian shirts are always a welcome sight.
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When did you first become obsessed with photography?
Rather than an obsession, photography has been an ongoing passion that has played a positive role in my life beginning as a hobby in my early teens and turning pro whilst in Alaska.
And what else are you obsessed with, besides photography?
The definition of the word obsession could be a bit subjective if trying to quantify it within myself. I do however have other “interests” and “passions” in life and will temporarily step out of my comfort zone and share.
 
Philanthropy:
If I was a Bill Gates or a Mark Zuckerberg, much of my wealth would go back into the world to help those in need but I am not. Nodal Ninja, however, has provided a small platform whereby “we”, not I, are able to give back. Over the years we have given to non-profits and charities to help victims of natural disasters like earthquakes in Japan and devastating floods in Australia. It’s worth noting here as well that Nick Fan of Fanotec has also shared generously in many of the same causes we have supported. And we don’t forget about our 4 legged friends, cancer research, or small donations to local organizations. It just feels right to give something back.
 
Crafting Beer:
Some in the pano community are already aware, I do enjoy crafting fine ale. From grain to glass and all points in between. Experimenting with each phase of the process yields an experience of its own.  The brewing community, like the pano community, is a small market but growing rapidly with fellow brewers always willing to lend advice and a helping hand.
 
Flying:
Having obtained my private pilot’s license in Alaska, flying has always been a fascination. Flying through the valleys and over the mountains in Alaska was a very unique and rewarding experience. Even though I’m not currently flying due to budget constraints the passion is still there and one day I’m sure I’ll return to the skies.
How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?
After running a successful photography company in Alaska for 5 years, I sold up and headed back to my native state of California (Bay Area). Wanting to stay in photography, I continually researched the latest in photographic technology. I kept reading more about virtual reality photography being the next new up and coming thing. Back then, Panoguide was “the” forum to learn all about this new technology so I decided to take the dive. I bought the Nikon Coolpix with a big FC-E9 lens and was ready to go to work, but realized that I now needed a pano head. Others recommended that I take a look at the new Nodal Ninja made by Digital Initiatives (now known as Fanotec). I went to the website and bought the NN-1 and couldn’t help but notice the sign on Nick Fan’s website – “Dealers Wanted.”  After some back and forth emails, Nick and I shared many of the same important business ethics – quality of product with commitment to service and support. Looking back I see it’s been a tad over 11 years now and I’m sure you’ll see me here for many more years to come. I love shooting panoramas and testing all the latest gear, enjoy interacting with customers and dealers, and enjoy sharing with the community.  
Are you a professional or amateur photographer?
Experienced amateur. I don’t make money doing photography as a living, but it is something I’ve been doing for a very long time.
Do you travel much to do your photography?
No. Too many commitments.  I do not travel “to do” photography, but rather I do photography when I travel.
What kind of photography do you like the best? and of what kinds of things?
Nature – you can’t force a smile on her, but be ready when she does. Living in the heart of the Sonoran Desert offers an amazing landscape and backdrop to what the West was like. Looking at the world more now with 360° eyes opens even more photographic opportunities. I hope to bring exposure and education to preserving these native lands through the imagery of an ever changing desert landscape. Website coming soon…
What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR, as we know it now, hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?
Without a doubt!  While 360° video is currently forefront and a driving force, 360° imagery will always have its place. Technology giants are racing to embrace the whole VR thing, so we’ll continually see higher quality results and ease of use, while keeping affordability in check. The underlying development is absolutely huge. Nearly every mobile device currently has the ability to capture interactive panoramas. More and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon.
Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?
If you visit our website and look for our “Notable Customers” page you’ll see a broad and diverse group of companies and industries embracing this technology. Aerospace, Educational Institutions, Media and Production, Engineering, Architectural, Military, Law Enforcement, Forensics, Museums, Parks, and the list goes on. Every week we see a new company/industry buying our product and we ask ourselves how will they use 360° VR? At times it’s too hard resist and I’ll have to ask. One company that continually buys VR equipment for many years is a utility company(?). I learned they document underground utility vaults.  Another company shoots high resolution photography to survey for cracks in a dam.  The PGA is now doing 360° aerials during special events. Parks and Recreation documents land mass and forest devastation. The list goes on.
What is your opinion about 360 Video?
This is an area that we are already seeing exploding growth. It’s growing so quickly that 360° video cameras of today will become outdated by tomorrow. Like everything else prices will go down and quality will continue to go up. In less than 2 years we’ll be able to create stunning 4K interactive 360º video content on one button devices with prices tags under $500. Once 360° video reaches this level, 360° imagery will begin to decrease, however there will always remain a need for traditional 360° imagery for quite some time so hardware manufacturers need not worry.
As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?
Fanotec is the pioneer building the Nodal Ninja equipment. Nodal Ninja serves the equipment up which places us in a unique position. We feel the “heartbeat” and the “pulse” of the industry as a whole. Wasn’t long ago we used to say this is a market that challenges technology.  We wanted higher resolution images, bigger cameras with larger sensors; we wanted stronger computers to process the higher resolution images; we wanted software to better handle and manage the images we process.
Today, however, we are experiencing drifts in needs. Most of these needs have been met. We now have the big cameras, we create the images with nearly as much resolution as we like and most computers and software can process what we throw at it.  For 360° imagery the need now is more based on the output requirements by the end user and consumer which ironically is not too demanding of current technology. We’ll still see 100+MP 360’s but they will be far and few between. 5MP or even 10MP 360’s fill the needs of most VR photographers doing this for hire. Because the market is growing so fast we now see users wanting to produce stunning panoramas with budget and ease of use in mind. At least 30% of people entering this market are first time users on a budget wanting to get out and make money shooting panoramas.  So single touch point and shoot 360° cameras like NCTech’s iris360 are seeing demand far exceeding supply. People want ease of use and automation. For standard businesses and real estate VR’s, we will see more low cost automated solutions coming to market. One shot high resolution cameras and low cost automated heads.  Companies like Fanotec, for example, will be entering into the emerging market of automation for 2016.
How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?
Oh – fun question. Where will we be in 5, 10, 100, or even 1,000 years from now? Panoramic photography is one of the fastest growing genre’s of photography. Photography, if you break it down to its core, is really about what you capture and record in the moment, what you see and cannot see, and the field of view (FOV) in which you see it in. The narrower the FOV generally the less information and less captivating it is. The broader the FOV the more that is captured, the more information you have, and the content becomes more interesting. We live in a 3D world and typically capture images and view them in a 2D plane looking to the left and right, up and down.  But let’s kick it up a notch an add another dimension – what if you could leave the 2D ground plane and go 3D? Not just seeing things with 3D glasses but traveling in 3D. Being able to travel up into the sky and down into the oceans.  This is more of the Virtual Reality are coming to learn. Then add in a 4th dimension of time and space. Being able to watch a forest grow as you walk through it, slow things down and travel around a lightning bolt as it’s being created. Even being able to record and playback smells and touch is not too far off.  Throw away the VR Goggles – cornea implants with sensitive under-skin pressure buttons. One could activate instant view….walk down a street and change the visible layers in the surroundings to view how it looked 50 years ago and watch the buildings on the street grow into the skyscrapers of today as you moves through the layers of time. 
It might sound a little sci-fi, but so did going to the moon a hundred years ago. 
We are trying to get as close as possible to the real world by capturing, creating and interacting in a virtual world. We want the entire virtual world to be as real as possible. Technology will always be striving to bring the two worlds closer. What will it be like once the real world melds “seamlessly” with the virtual world? We’ll have a “Real Virtual Reality”.
We live in exciting times.
 
In closing I’d like to thank Jeffrey Martin for this interview and and leave with one final thought to ponder.
 
Live and make the most of every moment today and learn from every experience you encounter. And for the experiences you wish you could encounter, feel confident in knowing that technology is racing to bring these to you as quickly as possible.
Thanks for your “real” time,
 
Bill Bailey
CEO 
Bill Bailey LLC dba Nodal Ninja