For the past two months I've been experimenting with the Ricoh THETA M15 camera. It's a camera that captures both video and photographs in a 360° panoramic view. I love the possibilities this camera offers but I think there's a lot of improvements that needs to be done with the software and the technology surrounding the camera! Let's start with what's possible with the camera: 360 degree photography.
The 360 degree photographs you take with the THETA camera can be altered in various apps but one in particular that works for me is Roll World. As you can see in the video posted above -- I was able to animate or "warp" a photo from one perspective to another due to the 360° panoramic view captured by the camera. I've been experimenting with this the past couple months and creating short Instagram videos that can be seen at this playlist. From what I've seen on the internet I haven't seen many people editing their THETA videos, most people are just posting clips to Instagram, which is cool too but I see a bigger potential for the photos and videos captured by this camera.
Above is a 360° video that can be viewed on YouTube on a limited amount of phones and browsers such as your iPhone, and the Google Chrome browser. This is a problem! The photographs and videos can also be seen on the Ricoh THETA website if you choose to upload your files there but it's difficult to share the videos on social media websites like Facebook, and Twitter. Yes, the photos and animated videos you create can be uploaded to YouTube, and Instagram but that leaves no power for the viewer to scan the panoramic view you capture when uploading the 360° metadata video to YouTube unless they are viewing on YouTube on select phones, and browsers. Another big problem is the 360 degree panoramic videos can only be seen ON the YouTube app! Meaning, if you decide to upload and share your video to YouTube, and share the link on Facebook; viewers will not be able to scan the panoramic view you captured in the YouTube app that opens through Facebook. Users must only view the videos directly on the YouTube app that allows you to have a look around the scene. I don't know how well this works on the other phones that allow the video to playback because I've only tried watching a shared video over social media on an iPhone, and an LG smartphone and again the users cannot scan the panoramic video unless it's directly on the YouTube app -- which is terrible for sharing! I guess other apps. and social media platforms need to catch up with what this technology has to offer but until then it's going to be difficult to get users to go directly to your channel and watch your 360 degree videos unless they are hardcore YouTube fans or smart with searching, and finding your channel (I know it can be difficult for some people to use smartphones still).
Lastly, I think editing softwares need to catch up with the technology so those who utilize a 360° camera can have the ability to direct a scene and what exactly the viewers are seeing. This is somewhat possible using the Roll World app I mentioned earlier but you don't have absolute control to pan around the scene multiple times whenever you choose. Using the Roll World app can take time! For instance, I've spent up to two hours at times exporting videos from Roll World just to create the possibility for me to import and edit the videos in Final Cut Pro X. When exporting your videos from Roll World, no audio is saved to the video clips so later you will have to match the audio from the original video files. I think there's so many possibilities of directing the viewer from the videos you've captured but unfortunately it's not made easy as of yet, and there's only 2 options creative filmmakers have to do so. One, you could prepare the scene ahead of time and face the camera in the direction you want to lead the viewers from the start, and manually whip the camera in the directions you want to lead your viewer. Two, open the raw video in the Ricoh THETA app on your computer and scan around the scene in full screen mode while screen recording with Quicktime or whichever app you prefer to do so. The latter option is definitely possible but you will most likely capture the mouse cursor in your screen recording.
Thanks for taking the time to read this rant of mine, it's a bit difficult explaining the troubles of the current technology surrounding 360 degree video. I plan on creating a review of the THETA camera in a few weeks, so if you're interested stay tuned for that!
OCTOBER UPDATE: As of late September Facebook has began supporting 360-degree video in the news feed for Android users. I've now uploaded my "360° Vacation In Texas" video to Facebook.com/RayRomanMedia and plan on uploading more videos as the support for other devices expands.
Last week I experimented with the new 'VHS Camcorder' app. by Rarevision. It's a fun app. to use for the old school VHS nostalgic look. I want to thank No Film School for sharing my video on their blog! I'm currently on vacation visiting family in Texas and spontaneously put this video together of my grandparents who recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to their anniversary party -- but this is my gift to them and I'm glad they enjoyed watching it! If you have a moment check it out, and don't forget to download the app. and experiment for yourself. Have fun!
This video is dedicated to Vernon & Theresa Rodriguez. Video shot on an iPhone 5 using the NEW Rarevision "VHS Camcorder" App.
I'm officially launching a YouTube channel based around my Snapchat videos. I previously wrote a blog titled "Using Snapchat To Create Short Films", check it out and don't forget to follow me on Snapchat @RaymondRoman for LIVE updates!
Ever since Snapchat created the 'My Story' feature I have used the mobile app to create on the fly made up short stories, as well as what most people use the app for which is capturing what they're doing at that moment in their lives. Recently the app allows you to download your story, instead of these great moments disappearing into thin air - which we know isn't entirely true since essentially what gets posted to the internet stays on the internet or in some database somewhere. Just last week Snapchat now allows you to record your videos while the music on your phone continues to play, whereas before if you were listening to music it would stop the music while you hold down the record button. I've wanted this feature for so long and glad it's finally possible to incorporate audio playing from your phone in your Snapchat videos. I took the short film idea a step further when this was made possible and made a little short film titled 'The Unknown' being that I had no idea what kind of story I was going to create, again I was just creating on the fly.
Below is a trailer I made of my Snapchat story I downloaded, and posted it to Instagram to lead more friends to follow me on Snapchat as well.
I've previously wrote about using the in-camera editing technique with 8mm film, Vine, and now the same thing is possible with Snapchat, minus the time limitations that Vine gives you. I think with the capabilities these apps provide, it could help beginning filmmakers learn the basics of filmmaking, or even turn someone onto becoming a filmmaker if they learn to love creating stories to tell their friends in a creative way. However, I know most people aren't using Snapchat "creatively", but for those who are it's interesting to see what the possibilities are for the future of filmmaking.
Personally, I've been using these apps to tell short stories, create highlight videos, or as a trailer to lead people onto seeing the full video (as seen above). For the most part I've been using Instagram to create highlight videos also known as "montage sequences" of family events. Anybody can create a montage these days, especially with apps such as Flipagram, or FlipClip but I believe there's an art to it that most people don't realize. Sure you can upload your photos into these apps, add some music and your on your way to posting your own montage, but to personally create your own montage there's a lot more that goes into to really create a feeling that gets across to the viewer. As an editor I try to lead the eye of the viewer through the choices I make of what clips should go together, where to make the cuts, what transition to create, and most importantly what music to use to drive the montage. For me it's a great exercise to create these short 15 second montage sequences for Instagram, and it's also nice to have these mini-highlight reels of a family event to look back on later on in life. I know a lot of people have old home movies that they never go back and watch, who really has the time? But when you have the capabilites that technology offers you today, and the apps to help showcase these moments, why not take advantage and create these short videos in the most entertaining way possible?
Below is one of my recent highlight videos, if you'd like to watch more follow me on Instagram/Snapchat @RaymondRoman and search under the hashtag #RayRomanVideo for more edited videos.
The rumor was true! Yesterday Instagram released the new update where you can now post short videos. The difference between Instagram Video and Vine is you can post 15 second videos on Instagram compared to the 6 second limitation on Vine. You can choose between 13 custom filters on Instagram, and add a cover frame that people will see when scrolling down their feed. Also, there’s pretty much a “takes” feature that I suggested previously maybe it’s something Vine should incorporate. Personally I kind of like the limitations on Vine, I think it forces people to be more creative. However, I like the options Instagram brings to the table. I think it's exactly what Vine could have been. The only thing I dislike about it is the 15 seconds because of the loading time on mobile devices. I think 10 seconds would be a perfect amount of time to make something creative. Then again most people on Instagram aren't posting from a creative perspective. I was excited when Vine came out because most people were posting creative video skits, and now I wonder if the same idea will crossover to Instagram videos? For the most part I doubt it will because in recent months I've noticed my Instagram friends sign up for Vine and many of them have flooded the Vine feed with boring, everyday bits of video clips. These are the same people who might post 3+ photos, or 3+ photos of the same situation on Instagram. You know, the kind of people you want to unfollow but don't because they're your friends. I'm going to continue to use Vine because I find it's a more creative community, but I will also use Instagram for skits I can't fit within 6 seconds on Vine. I've already noticed some friends of mine use the Instagram Video in good and bad ways. I don't mind seeing random video clips of ones life if it's recorded nicely, they can almost be like a moving photograph. It's the videos horribly mashed together with no composition that I dislike. I must remember these videos are from people who have no basic knowledge for photography or video editing, so how can I expect them to frame a shot and successfully use in-camera editing? I really do wish they tone it down a bit with the excessive posting though.