360° Video! ...kind of

Wow. It's here. Finally. I guess, we did it? Well, that could be said. Thanks to the 360Fly and my wonderful engineering of a custom DIY immersive POV 360° VR-Ready camera rig, we filmed Act 1 Scene 7 of King's Dharma

So why the slight doubt that we did it? We still have to test it. Despite Harry not being mentioned much in the last few posts, he has been working incredibly hard on getting the TinyDuino to work (and it does! Video coming soon). For me, since I rotated the 360Fly HD 90°, I might have messed up the projection of the 360 video (although I might have misspoken since I did rotate the video as well). You can play with the video using your mouse or WASD keys to move around! 

Yes, there's some awkward stretching...we're trying to figure out what's going on.. Also, Zeezee's sister is standing in for Harry (who couldn't make the journey). 

Marvelous right?! So it's not the best video on YouTube, but it's definitely not the worst. However, we did learn some things after filming with the 360Fly.

  • 1504 x 1504 resolution is terrible. It's soft, looks like 360p when you view it on YouTube and a Premiere Pro VR Sequence. I tried to upscale the video to 2160p with the After Effects Detail Preserving Upscale effect and it helped, although you can see the interpolation.
  • The 360Fly is not true 360° video; it's somewhere around 360° by 240 (I believe). Maybe I messed up in the post processing step, but YouTube doesn't seem to understand that the video isn't technically spherical. While it doesn't matter for our purpose, I understand why it might be annoying. 

Okay, enough ranting; back to the creation of the film. After a 2 hour drive to Greenfield, MA, we came to the conclusion that Poet's Seat Tower was the designated filming location. Despite the 6in of snow and the freezing temperature, we spent 3 hours rehearsing the scene for 10 minutes of filming. Fun. And despite the fact that Zeezee's sister cannot be heard in the beginning, we were all very pleased with the end result. Now, the next step is to integrate the video with the TinyDuino!

Around 6pm today is when our test is scheduled so wish us luck! 

The ExoSkeleton MKII: Goodbye Kodak SP360 4K

What do you do when your Borrow Lenses rental expires and you custom made a camera mount specifically for a certain camera? You dremel until it works! 

Okay so while that is technically is what I did, there's a little bit more to the story. Let's time travel back to 5PM on December 30th, 2016. I was at Borrow Lenses, returning a Rode mic that we didn't use. Little did we know that they weren't open on New Year's Eve day.. shoot. After much discussion, Zeezee and I decided to return the Kodak SP360 4K cameras. 

So what now? I bet you're thinking GoPros! Nope (did you read the title?). 360Fly HD! Yeah, it's not 4K. It's a 1:1 1504x1504, but it works! 

We adjusted the head mount with (you guessed it) a Dremel. 

I apologize for the bad image (blame my S7 Edge) more to come tomorrow! 

I apologize for the bad image (blame my S7 Edge) more to come tomorrow! 

A 3M sticky back GoPro mount and an Insignia GoPro mount to Tripod mount adapter, and we have the Exoskeleton MKII!

The Big Day: The Exoskeleton Comes Alive!

10AM - Slowly roll out of bed and frantically text Harry to come to Zeezee's house. 
10:15AM - Make coffee (black) and eat half of a chocolate chip muffin. 

––Skip ahead a couple of hours and a couple of trips to Home Depot later––

I ask the question: What can't a Dremel do? Can it grind screws and create awesome sparks? I say yes. 

Dremel-ing screw heads with 60 grit sand paper at 30,000rpm and no eye protection...Thanks for the photos Harry!

The screws were nice and shiny! But what about that "spine" I was taking about? 

- Around 10 2x1.5x1.5in blocks with 5/8th hole through the center and the center ones with a shaved corner to allow articulation (Curtesy of Mr. Clifford from DCD) 
- 48in bungee cord with a hook cut off
- Around 20 eye hooks

With the Dremel-ing completed, I borrowed my model (Zeezee) and we ran down to the basement to try to put everything together. Since we didn't have the Velcro that we wanted, we used our favourite method of 'jankey' securing: blue painter's tape! 

I hope the idea is clear. Now the issue was securing the two pieces together (that's a different post!). 

8PM - Run out to JoAnn Fabric to pick up foam and velcro. 

And the head mount stays on your head! 

DCD Woodshop Saves the Day!

Okay, so the first attempt didn't really work out. After a lot of sketches and Coke-Cola, Zeezee and I came up with the idea for a head mounted exoskeleton inspired design. We wanted to reduce the weight on the person and distribute it to the waist (away from the neck and head). 

(Photos coming soon!) 

After realizing that we would not be able to do this, we made a last ditch effort to try to find a woodshop. At the last minute, Mr. Clifford, the woodshop instructor at Dedham Country Day School, took precious time out of his day to help us make our dream become a reality. With my design, and his on-the-fly band saw cutting skills, we were able to create this marvelous head mount! 

Yes, the cuts are not perfect. Yes, there is still tape. Yes, it was unstable. But the design was in our hands and it fit. It's a prototype, it doesn't need to be perfect. The next step was to assemble the "spine". 

360° POV VR Camera Rig: The First Attempt

Day 1 (Around mid-afternoon): 

To Do: 
- Rent 360° cameras (Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K) ✓ 
- Figure out how to record point-of-view with these cameras. 

Day 1.5 (Midnight):

Enter the bike helmet idea. Let's mount the cameras so that the person cannot be seen by the cameras. We faced the lenses away from the person (see below) and put them apart so that we figured that they would still be able to stitch together (Update: they did not). 

With out good friend Zip-Tie, we were able to roughly create a non-destructive camera rig. But we soon realised that it was not going to work...

It kind of worked... The cameras were too far apart to stitch correctly. We figured that it was since the cameras were so quickly attached that they weren't level and not on the same plane as each other, thus, making it hard to stitch. We quickly ditched this idea for a similar one. 

Day 1.75 (Sometime past midnight): 

So let's move the cameras closer together...maybe that will help...


Unfortunately, that didn't work. As you can see in the photos, the cameras are offset from each other and that made the rig fail... updates coming soon!