Showing posts sorted by relevance for query 360fly4k. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query 360fly4k. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Pushing 360° Video Quality on a Motorcycle

I've been messing around with 360° immersive video at work.  One of the best ways to quickly get familiar with the technology is to use it in a difficult circumstance so you can find its limitations.  At work we're building immersive video to show a virtual walk-through of our school.  If the gimbal and camera we have will work on a motorbike, it'll work stuck to a kid's head as they walk through the school.

There are a number of barriers to admission with 4k video and image stabilization.  Fortunately, the 360Fly4k windshield mount I have is so over engineered that it easily handles the weight and motion of the gimbal and camera rig.

I've previously done 4k video with the 360Fly4k, but it has a big blind spot on it, so this would be my first true 360 4k video.  The Fly is a tough thing that takes great footage, but I'd describe it more as a 300° camera than a true 360 one.

This 4k 360 camera is the Samsung Gear 360.  I'm running it off the camera because the app won't run on my Android non-Samsung phone because I guess Samsung don't want to sell many of these cameras - it's kind of a jerk move on their part so if these things don't sell (because you have to have a Samsung phone to access it remotely), then they're getting what they deserve.

The Gear 360 has a small screen so you can see settings and using the buttons is fairly straightforward, though you'll find yourself constantly accidentally pressing buttons while you're handling it.  The Ricoh Theta 360 is still my ergonomic favourite in terms of control and handling, and they just came out with a 4k version of the Theta - perhaps they'll lend me one to test.

The gimbal is a Moza Guru 360°Camera stabilizer.  The typical gimbal design has weights to the left or right of the camera to keep things balanced, but on a 360 camera that means you're blocking all sorts of sight lines.  The Moza gimbal is vertically stacked with the weights hanging below, mostly out of sight.  It has a power button and a push button joystick that lets you set shooting modes and centre your camera so it's looking where you're going rather that looking down the 'seams' between the two cameras.

Most 360 cameras are actually two or more cameras working together.  The resulting footage is then stitched together in software to make an every direction video.  The raw footage from the Samsung looks like this (on left).  A front and back facing fish-eye camera capturing separate footage.

Because both cameras are capturing different scenes, you can often see where they are stitched together because of a difference in ISO which shows up as a clear line of brightness difference (on the right).  They all tend to be identical, fixed-lens cameras, so the aperture and shutter speed tend to be identical.

The first test video has the Samsung camera set at highest resolution (4096x2048 pixels in video) and 24FPS.  The gimbal is in locked mode, so it's always looking in the same direction even if I go around the corner.  The gimbal provides smooth video by taking the bike's motion out of the video (it's always looking in the same direction as the bike and I rotate around the shot), but a bike's motion is one of the best parts of riding, so for the second shot I set it in tracking mode so it followed the bike's motions.

Uploading it to YouTube out of the Gear 360 Action Director resulted in a flattened video that doesn't allow you to pan.  In order to produce that kind of video in the G360-AD (what a ridiculous name), you need to PRODUCE the video in the software and then share it to YouTube from within the program.  My issue with this is that when you bring the program in it takes an Intel i7 VR ready laptop the better part of twenty minutes (for less than ten minutes of footage) to process it before you can do anything with it.  When you produce it (again) for YouTube you end up waiting another twenty minutes.  The Ricoh Theta saves the video (albeit 1080p equivalent) in a fraction of the time and the resulting saved version is 360 ready for YouTube; the 360Fly software is likewise efficient at 4k.  I'm not sure why I have to wait forty minutes to produce less than ten minutes of footage on the Samsung.  I know it's a lot of data to work through, but it isn't a very streamlined process.

So, after a lot of post processing, the 4096x2048 360° video out of the camera shows up on YouTube at 1440s (s stands for spherical rather than p - pixels - spherical footage is stretched across a wider area and tends to look less sharp).  I'm not sure where my 2048s footage went - I imagine part of that big post processing was to shrink the footage to fit on YouTube more easily?

 If you click on the YouTube logo you can watch it in YouTube and adjust the resolution (bottom right) to see how it looks (make sure to do it full screen to use all your pixels).  If you're lucky enough to be watching it on a 4k display, this will come close to filling it.

The quality is excellent, the microphone remarkably good (they get beaten up pretty badly on motorcycles), but the awkwardness of post processing and the ergonomics of the thing don't make it my first choice.  Trying to manage it with gloves on would be even more frustrating.  What you've got here is a good piece of hardware let down by some weak product design and software.

The software does offer some interesting post processing options in terms of wacky arts filters, but if you're shooting at 4k all this does is drastically reduce the quality of your video.  If you're going to use those filters film at way lower resolution so you don't have to wait for hours while they process.

I'm aiming to go for a ride tomorrow to look at the fall colours after our first frost.  I'll bring the Samsung along and see how well it photographs.  It's promising 15 megapixel 360 images and high dynamic range landscapes, so I'm optimistic.  Photography is timeless and my preferred visual medium anyway, I find video too trapped by the continuity of time.  Maybe the Samsung will be a good photography tool.  Of course, I won't be able to fire the thing remotely because I don't have a Samsung phone...

Follow up:

The next morning I set up the camera on the gimbal for the ride to work.  The camera epically failed to catch any of the magic of the morning mist.  The video I got was starting and stopping every minute and the footage was a mess, full or artifacts and unusable.  

Compared to the robust Ricoh Theta (which I've had out in light rain with no problems) or the bullet proof 360Fly4k, which I've left filming through full on storms, the Samsung gave up the ghost at a bit of fog on an otherwise sunny morning.

This is not a tough camera by any stretch.  Dainty might be a better way to describe it.  For something that's supposed to catch the world around you, it's best used indoors.  Yes, I'm bitter that I couldn't catch anything of that glorious morning ground fog.

Simulated image indeed - this camera wouldn't work that close to an ocean!  If you're looking for a resilient, tough, outdoor camera, this ain't it.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

April Fools Forks Of The Credit

It crawled up to near double digits on Saturday, April 1, so Max and I took the Tiger by the tail and went for our first ride over to The Forks of the Credit.

On our way over to Erin we were stopped at a light when a truck passed us carrying an spanking new Africa Twin - very nice.  The truck driver was giving us thumbs up and we gave 'em right back.

We stopped at the Busholme in Erin for a warming lunch; 8°C on a motorbike will cool you off quickly.  It's now on Max's places to eat memory map.  After a quick stop at Holtom's Bakery we headed over to the Forks and did a lap...

Music: The Fire The Tread The Steel by Hot Water Music

The ride from Belfountain out to Highway 10 was lovely - clear of speedbumps (both on the road and the four wheeled kind).  It was cold and there was still a lot of snow runnoff crossing the road, but I could let the bike go as fast as it felt comfortable without having to worry about some Ontario numpty in a box in front panicking that the road actually has curves on it.

On the ride back to Belfountain for my first coffee of the year at Higher Ground, we quickly caught up with just such a numpty driving a Subaru WRX... and he was driving it like he stole it his grandmother.  Baffled by every bend in the road, this toolasaurus in his rally car practically stopped every time the road got interesting.  Max and I, two up on our fourteen year old adventure bike almost pulled off to let this guy have his moment of sheer driving brilliance.  I guess that's why you buy a forty thousand dollar rally car knock off and then drive it out to one of the few twisty roads in the area.

Soon enough we got to Higher Ground where only the very serious people were out.  The parking lot was littered with half a dozen BMW adventure bikes, a Ducati Multistrada and two Triumph Tigers once we got there.  Ours was the oldest bike by ten years.  There were a lot of peaked adventury helmets and Klim clothing.  Everyone felt very robust and adventurous.

Off the bike it was twelve degrees and sunny, so looking at all the bikes and chatting with the other riders was a nice break from the frost bite at speed.  

We wrapped up our coffee break and took Mississauga Road north past the ski hill still thick with snow before heading back home a bit wind burned and out of practice saddle sore, but happy to have gotten the first two up ride of the year in.

Loading up at High Ground for the Ride home.

Mississauga Road north behind another four wheeled speed bump
A veil of beautifully scalloped clouds followed us all the way home.
Max took these - evidently he was quite taken with the farkly R1200...
All taken from the 360Fly4k suction cupped to the wing mirror and edited in-camera.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

360 Camera Thoughts & Early Spring Commutes

Some media from the first week of regular (twice!) commuting:

A tiger's eye view of the ride in to work.  About 4°C and a bit damp.  That afternoon was up to 12°C and I comfortably took the long way home.  Both videos use the high speed video capture option within the Fly360 (long motorcycle videos are tedious):

Photos and video screen grabs from the rides all on the 360Fly4k - great resolution but it isn't really a 360° camera like the Ricoh Theta is with a large blank area around the base.  If you mount it facing up it doesn't see the bike.  The photo on the left shows the full range of view - if it was a true 360°view you'd see where the bike was going too.  The Theta stitches two of those globes together giving you a true 360° capture.  It's also much smaller and easier to clip onto a motorbike.  Having a physical button to take photos and move between video and photo mode while on the go is also helpful.  The Fly can only be operated through your smartphone, which isn't possible while in motion (well, I guess it is, but you'll probably end up wrapped around a tree and the copper who sees you with a phone in your hand will loose his mind).

Editing is a whole other thing.  I find the 360 Director software buggy at best.  PoV in camera editing doesn't seem to pick up when you ask it to render.  I can get it to go about one third of the time.  The resolution of the Fly is excellent, and it does an ok job in low light considering that it isn't really designed for it.  The Fly is also weather proof, so you're not worrying about the odd drop of rain like I did with the Theta.

The long and the short of it is, if you're looking for resolution and clarity, the Fly's your choice, just be prepared to stick it in some strange places because it can't see everything.  If you want ease of editing in a small camera with true 360° video and photography, the Theta's where you should go.

These are all taken with it suctioned to the inside of the windshield and pointed back at me...

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

March Break

Snow storms and freezing temperatures, but I managed to squeeze a quick ride up and down the river on Sunday afternoon just before it was back to work time.

I am here to steal Firefox!

Snow in the gullies...

That's a quality Ontario paved road

Everything on here came off the 360Fly4k camera.  

Stills pulled off the 360Fly Director software.  

The video was just dumped onto Youtube because the Director software won't render video.  Quite frustrating... they need an update.  When you run the point of view video editor it just doesn't seem to pick up the rendering thread.