Whether you're an aspiring 360° film extraordinaire, or looking for ways to catch the full scope of your son's next birthday party, there are a lot of options for ways to immerse yourself in the world of 360° filmmaking. Here's your guide:
With tag lines like "Beauty is all around you" and "Your world is not flat," one might be willing to purchase this tiny camera just based on the marketing, but one would be disappointed having done so. The Ricoh Theta can be a fun tool to use to catch a day at the beach or a picnic at the park, but for any other purposes the product is rather disappointing. The Theta distorts your 360° images in a fishbowl, bubble-view way. One bonus to the Theta is that you don't need stitching software to combine the images needed to create the 360° final product.
Limits: Low-quality and fishbowl-style images. Can only produce 3-minute long videos. No play-back. You must assemble separate images with an app on a computer in order to produce a video.
Sphericam (version 2) is definitely an upgrade from the Ricoh Theta. With 6 cameras and a global shutter, your final 360° product is nearly stitch-free, which for all the available cameras out there, is pretty hard to do. The spherical resolution is 4096x2048, which means upon display the image looks pretty good all-around. Their mobile app allows you to start/stop recording, monitor the view, transfer, view and edit your content. It has 4 built-in microphones to capture 360 sound. Overall, the Sphericam is pretty user friendly.
Limits: If you're looking to create professional looking 360° content, this may not be the camera for you due to resolution issues. Otherwise, this seems like a great product. We'll see when it becomes available.
Price: Only available for pre-order if you contribute $1,399 to their Kickstarter Project. Otherwise, no information has been provided about release date or projected price.
Google has teamed up with GoPro to take a stake in the virtual reality community. They've created Google Jump, which is really a three part system for creating virtual reality content. The first part is the 16-camera rig, which utilizes GoPro Hero4 cameras. The second part is the software utilized to stitch all the separate film components into one 360° image. The third is the established relationship with YouTube, in which viewers can explore the full scope of these films through the YouTube platform without needing to utilize a head set.
Limitations: Well, there are a lot. First of all, it's extremely expensive to purchase 16 GoPro Hero4 cameras, priced at $499 each. The rig itself can be printed with a 3D printer. Google themselves printed it in plastic, metal and cardboard, and have released the plans online so anyone can print one. Then, you have the issue of stitching the images together. The Jump software is currently unavailable, but even if the software is affordable, the computing power needed to run the software is not. Overall, this is an extremely expensive way to go and given the prototypes GoPro has released, you can actually see the stitching in the image, which is not ideal for professional grade release.
Price: Not including the price of the rig or the software, the cameras alone cost nearly $8,000.
There are only whispers of the camera titled 'NEO' created by the team at Jaunt, but from the rumors it seems to be the king of the jungle in terms of 360° cameras. This high quality, high resolution camera is said to come with synchronized global shutter array, HDR imaging, weatherproof form, and extensive tools for rendering and configuration. The objective of NEO is to provide filmmakers with the tool to create some super rad VR content.
We'll provide more information about limits and pricing as the date for public release becomes closer in sight.