11 filmmakers give us the 360° digital camera low down.

As the founding father of eevo, an interactive VR / 360º video firm, I communicate day by day with filmmakers exploring the world of VR. They are hungry to be taught extra about creating interactive 360º video and spatial audio experiences.

Whether for the sake of storytelling, actual property excursions, medical content material, artwork, or tourism, they typically ask the identical query: What 360º digital camera ought to I be utilizing?

I’ve had some concepts, however I needed to provide them the absolute best reply. So I made a decision to achieve out to a number of the superb creators I’ve met to see what they needed to say. While I didn’t look forward to finding too many similarities in folks’s ideas on this matter, it seems that skilled creators agree on fairly a couple of issues, each with regard to their method to 360º filmmaking and to the tools they select to do it with.

Armando Kirwin, Independent Director of VR

Former EP at Vrse.Works, filmed 360° video for NY Times, Within, Facebook, Airbnb, Muse, Mastercard and extra.

Recommended 360º Cameras:

  • Insta360 Pro — $3,500
  • Yi Halo — $17,000

“I strongly consider that you need to choose the most effective digital camera on a case-by-case foundation for every venture, and even for every shot, that you just pursue. That being mentioned, my present favourite digital camera is the Insta360 Pro. I took it with me on location in Cameroon and located it to be simple to function, dependable below numerous capturing circumstances, and able to producing a lovely picture. It’s additionally priced very pretty. I now advocate this digital camera to most individuals who wish to get began in VR manufacturing.

I’m additionally an enormous fan of all the Google Jump cameras [such as the Yi Halo]. They produce the most effective auto-stitch within the trade, for my part, however the lack of backside cameras is problematic for the kind of work that I do.”

Lewis Smithingham, President of 30 Ninjas

Filmed 360° video for Conan, Vogue, Jaunt, Discovery, TBS, USA, Lexus and extra.

Recommended 360º Cameras:

  • Custom Builds / Rig
  • Yi Halo — $17,000
  • Nokia OZO — $17,500
  • Zcam K1 Pro — $2,995
  • VRTUL — Price Unannounced

“There isn’t an ideal 360 digital camera; every job has totally different wants which may trigger the digital camera system to alter. But typically they fall into 4 classes:

Nodal Camera (DSLR, Phantom, RED, and so on.)
The value on these techniques relies upon upon the digital camera. Nodal tripod mounts not often value greater than $1k, and then you definitely add a digital camera with no matter lens you’d like to make use of. This is essentially the most fundamental method to create a 360 picture. It’s additionally essentially the most correct, and infrequently the best high quality. However, it’s rather less forgiving with errors and forces you to interrupt your scenes’ motion into slices, in line with nodal rotations. A nodal setup lets you use bigger sensors and make use of slow-motion cameras. But creating stereo nodally is arguably not possible to do with out publish conversion.

Integrated w/ dwell capabilities (Ozo and Zcam)
We do quite a lot of dwell exhibits, and proper now I’m nonetheless an enormous fan of OZO. It’s dependable, and straightforward to make use of in fast-paced dwell settings.

Integrated non-live (Yi Halo)
The Yi is at the moment my favourite digital camera. It produces lovely pictures. It features reliably and the Google Jump stitching platform is actually game-changing. We shot the demo reel for the digital camera’s launch and it has been actually great to observe the stitching enhance because it launched. We’re large followers of stereo at 30 Ninjas, and Google Jump’s stitching is the most effective round. It permits us to correctly predict the post-production prices with out compromising visuals.

Underwater and ultra-specialty (VRTUL)
I’m a diver, so I’ve a comfortable spot for cameras which can be capable of dwell in that world. I’m an enormous fan of the VRTUL cameras; we labored with the group at VRTUL to do an underwater livestream off the coast of the Bahamas final yr. Their stereo digital camera can also be superb and the one underwater 360 digital camera able to stereo.”

Mike Woods, Director of Immersive at mssngpeces

Founder of Framestore VR Studio and Framestore Digital, created VR for HBO, Merrell, Paramount, and extra.

Recommended 360º Camera:

  • Yi Halo — $17,000

“We just lately shot a collection of VR content material clips for a marketing campaign across the Winter Olympics. In some difficult climate and placement circumstances, we have been capable of rapidly set as much as seize each shifting jib and sports activities pictures with the Yi Halo. It was extremely dependable, and even with the fragile reminiscence card insertion/removing, we have been capable of seize a LOT of footage. We had dwell cellular output for confidence, and would even set a Gear VR digital camera onto the Yi Halo itself for extra instantaneous confidence. Google’s Jump cloud-stitch back-end would permit us to get materials again rapidly.

We have been capable of get 6k /60fps in a short time, and it actually seems like a threshold second, the place instantly top quality VR is now achievable past essentially the most managed of circumstances.”

Christina Heller, Co-Founder at VR Playhouse

Filmed 360° video for Casamigos, Mercedes, Youtube, RedBull, and extra.

Recommended 360° Cameras:

  • Inst360 Pro — $3,500
  • Yi Halo — $17,000
  • LivePlanet — $9,995

“The greatest 360 digital camera depends upon your targets. The Insta360 Pro is a unbelievable mix of being each user-friendly and inexpensive. It stitches on board, streams dwell and prices $3.5K. Great newbie digital camera. For skilled high-end 360 video, the Yi Halo has a simple workflow and provides very lovely, stitched 3D 360 video utilizing Google’s algorithm. The value level for a Halo is $17Okay, so that you may wish to lease it, however it’s the most effective for skilled outcomes. And for dwell streaming 360 on lengthy shoots, the brand new LivePlanet digital camera can function for spectacular lengths of time with out overheating, and in addition has very lovely on board 3D stitching and streaming.”

Tim Dillon, Head of VR & Immersive Content at MPC

Created VR for Samsung, Sony, Sky, U2, FX, Warner Bros, and extra.

Recommended 360° Camera:

  • Custom builds / rigs

“We (MPC) are digital camera agnostic and dealing with every little thing on the market. That means we’re extending what’s attainable with rigs by way of sensor, image high quality, rigging for motion and seize for VFX. Currently, most shoppers we work with in the end select a customized digital camera configuration throughout pre-production, choosing image high quality and a mono footprint (such because the Sony a7s or the Blackmagic cams) over a completely spherical digital camera format. That mentioned, the attract of the self-stitching digital camera is robust with shoppers coming to us desirous to shoot simply and with out blocking restrictions. We typically then talk about capturing motion in quadrants and produce other 180 vs 360 motion discussions to cut back cleanup and publish prices. We’re typically capturing with totally different HMD output in thoughts, with extra administrators now aspiring to take 360 scenes into sport engines to be combined with 6DoF parts. It’s clear to see how capturing parts will turn out to be the norm, with extra hand shake to CG digital cameras for post- and cross-platform deliverables for AR codecs.”

Ryan Thomas, Co-Founder at SubVRsive

Filmed 360° video for MTV, Showtime, Ford, Google, Estée Lauder, P&G, and extra

Recommended 360º Cameras:

  • Yi Halo — $17,000
  • Zcam S1 Pro — $8,880

“While the wants of the venture at all times dictate the most effective device for the job, these are two of my go-to cameras that provide distinctive versatility and picture high quality. We simply wrapped considered one of our most bold tasks to this point, a 10-episode collection tied to the 43rd season of Austin City Limits. We captured the collection nearly completely on a fleet of 6 Yi Halos. The Halo’s secret weapon is the Google Jump platform that it’s constructed on. The venture supply specs have been 6k stereo at 60fps and we leaned closely on the Jump’s cloud-stitching back-end to supply the processing infrastructure wanted to sort out the practically 60TB of uncooked footage captured throughout our 14 days of capturing.

For tasks the place excessive body price and stereoscopic aren’t required, I really like the Zcam S1 Pro. Its picture high quality and dynamic vary supplied by its bigger sensors permit plenty of flexibility in publish. Additionally, each of those cameras have an app that gives management of settings and dwell preview over WiFi — an enormous benefit within the area.”

Joergen Geerds, CEO of Koncept VR

Filmed 360° video for Hamilton, School of Rock, Conde Nast, United Launch Alliance, World Vision, and plenty of extra.

Recommended 360° Cameras:

  • Panasonic GH5 250 Entaniya — $13,000
  • Four Sony a7S II cameras, 4 8mm Samyang FE lenses, and rig — $12,000
  • Freedom360 Explorer & H6 — $3,000

“The one you will have and know how you can use (and how you can sew).

Every 360 digital camera system on the market has its strengths and weaknesses. There isn’t any excellent digital camera, and there’s no “the one” digital camera. A seasoned 360 filmmaker ought to work with a number of totally different cameras, every for a selected objective, primarily based on what the shoot requires — by no means believing any of the hype the digital camera makers promise, at all times making your individual opinions primarily based on precise expertise.

Our present workhorse setup is a back-to-back GH5 with 250º Entaniya MFT lenses. The digital camera has loads of options, together with fine-tuned publicity and WB choices and a selection of various renderings of the recording, that aren’t present in all-in-one digital camera techniques. As a cinematographer, I at all times favor uncooked materials that’s wealthy in shade and depth. The gigantic FE lenses permit for very versatile framing choices, 220º of not having to fret about crossing the seams, capturing B2B or nodally. A set of 4 Sony a7S IIs with 8mm Samyang FE lenses makes an ideal low-light-capable 360º system, sharp and versatile. Secondary digital camera techniques embrace an F360 Explorer with Hero 6 cameras (waterproof and difficult), a SubSpace Abyss with Hero 6 for underwater, a GoPro Omni (nice for aerial pictures out of a heli), and a small two-lens digital camera just like the Garmin or the Yi. All cameras permit me to give attention to filmmaking, and never futz round with digital camera tech on set.”

Michael Mansouri, Co Founder of Radiant Images

Filmed 360° video for Obama’s farewell speech, NASA, AT&T and extra. Associate member of the American Society of Cinematographers and winner of a number of awards for his technical and artistic work.

Recommended 360° Cameras:

  • Jaunt One — $95,000
  • Nokia OZO — $17,500
  • ZCam V1 PRO — $33,880
  • Obsidian — $7,000
  • RED Weapon 8K with Entaniya 250°

“Selection of digital actuality cameras isn’t any totally different than deciding on a digital camera when capturing in conventional 2D. Selecting lenses and digital camera our bodies is normally step one when beginning a 2D manufacturing. Is the shoot principally low-light, or sensible lighting just like motion pictures reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” or Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void”? Is this a run-and-gun kind of seize or a extra cinematic tempo? These challenges outline the digital camera and sort of lens, permitting you to find out whether or not it is perhaps higher to make use of a zoom lens as a substitute of a chief lens.

All filmmakers make these choices throughout preproduction after the director, cinematographer and producer decide the next:

  • Budget
  • Locations
  • Subjects (i.e., what they intend to seize)
  • The temper and “look” of the content material
  • Framing and proximity to topics (i.e., huge, shut, lengthy, far-off, and so on.)
  • Distribution targets (i.e., IMAX, theatrical, TV, YouTube, and so on.)

With the introduction of all of those expanded selections for digital camera options — from client to prosumer, all the way in which to high-end skilled cameras — I really feel that the filmmaking course of is much less and fewer about simply know-how, and far more targeted on strategies. Since these are necessary and regularly requested questions, I at all times attempt to take a look at the problem or state of affairs from a recent perspective, with no preconceived options — simply new concepts about which instruments can help us the most effective.

I wouldn’t have a go-to digital camera. We are not often requested for cookie-cutter options. Normally, individuals who have interaction us are asking a lot deeper questions — like how you can seize deeper and richer experiences — relatively than how you can auto-stitch or auto-expose cameras.

Movies like “Baraka” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” weren’t conceived or finalized as a result of they have been simple or low-cost to make. Instead, the filmmakers checked out deeper, extra complicated questions, reminiscent of how these movies would make an impression and have an effect on the acutely aware in addition to the unconscious.”

Henry Stuart, CEO and Co Founder of Visualise

Visualise has produced over 100 experiences for shoppers like BBC, Mercedes, Thomas Cook, Oakley, MSF, Samsung and Audi.

Recommended 360° Cameras:

  • Z Cam S1 Pro — $8,880
  • Yi Halo — $17,000
  • Custom construct / rig with two Sony a7S II cameras

“There are large numbers of 360 cameras on the market, starting from a couple of hundred to tens of 1000’s. Sometimes the most effective digital camera for a scene is the $400 one, different occasions it’s the $20,000 one. Part of the ability of an excellent DOP (director of pictures) in VR is choosing the proper digital camera for the suitable scene/setting. You actually need to know your stuff, as 360 filmmaking is all about compromises and when to make them. Here’s a choice of a few of my favourite that we use at Visualise.


Z Cam S1 Pro — such a brilliantly easy and strong digital camera, good sensors, good lenses, and stitches properly with optical circulate. There are a great deal of good options with the S1. Worth mentioning are the Ethernet output cable, to simply obtain footage with out twiddling with a number of playing cards; the steel body, permitting it to dissipate warmth and run for hours; and its intuitive and easy app, which runs on a laptop computer or iPad. Be warned although: its log isn’t true log, so shoot in normal mode.

Stereoscopic (3D):

Yi Halo (Google Jump 2) — this can be a good evolution of the Jump system. The prime digital camera that all of us yearned for is now there and it may be simply managed from an app. The rig is dependable and lightweight, and crucially, it stitches actually properly on Google’s cloud.

Johnny 5 — this can be a customized rig of ours that’s principally two Sony a7S II cameras hacked along with a sync field (the flux capacitor). I really like capturing on this rig, because it’s utilizing top of the range lenses and full body sensors, you may lay it on thick within the grade, and you may as well management your shoot with lighting and administrators, shopper, and so on., in a way more conventional approach as you’re simply capturing 4 slices of 90 levels every. So you shoot ahead, get your motion excellent, after which flip the digital camera 90 levels and shoot the subsequent little bit of motion. The ensuing 4 movies from 4 separate moments are stitched collectively as if they’re all from one second.”

Johanna Salazar, Co-Owner of Two Goats Immersive

Filmed 360° video for Toyota, Telemundo, Audi, Lamborghini and others.

Recommended 360º Camera:

  • Z cam S1 Pro — $8,880

“We produced three activations for the Latin American Music Awards for NBCU Telemundo and we cherished the standard of the digital camera. Our pictures have been taken in very shut proximity, as we shot inside a automotive and rigged the digital camera to the moon roof of a Toyota Camry. Then we did a 360 livestream to Facebook and we positioned two rigs on either side of the stage… the lighting was totally different and but the cameras labored superbly.”

Duncan Ransom, CEO of The Endless Collective

Created VR for American Express, Samsung, Google, eevo and extra.

Recommended 360° Camera:

  • Four a7S II cameras, 4 4x8mm Rokinon lenses, and rig — $15,000

“There are so many choices. We personally have appreciated utilizing a customized four-camera a7SII setup. The dynamic vary provides us quite a lot of flexibility, and low-light efficiency has in lots of instances made it the one selection.”

What’s the Consensus?

After so many nice conversations with these main VR creators, what is going to we be telling our potential prospects? While there are quite a lot of nice cameras on the market, we’ve discovered a couple of issues most of our VR execs appear to agree on:

  1. There isn’t any excellent 360º digital camera. Getting the shot you need can imply utilizing a unique 360º digital camera or customized construct, primarily based on the aim at hand.
  2. Nonetheless, there’s one digital camera that stands out in the case of high-end 360º cameras. It’s the Yi Halo, really useful by greater than half of our consultants. It prices 17Okay, so renting could also be your only option, relying on how a lot content material you might want to shoot.
  3. In distinction, when you’re seeking to spend below 4k on knowledgeable 360º digital camera and also you’re new to the VR area, the Insta360 Pro is the way in which to go. It offers high-quality imagery and is simple to make use of, even you’re simply beginning out.
    If you may afford to spend somewhat extra, the Z Cam S1 Pro is a stable selection for a monoscopic 360º digital camera. Z Cam gives quite a lot of cameras, so it’s value searching by means of their choices.
  4. If you may construct your individual setup after which sew afterwards, this will typically be the way in which to go for essentially the most tailor-made shot — however you’ll must know what you’re doing. The studying curve may be steep in comparison with the benefit of utilizing an all-in-one 360º digital camera. You’ll want to grasp the post-production work circulate and how you can sew your individual movies collectively. If that is the trail you select, the Sony a7S II was really useful by 4 VR creators above.
  5. The VR / 360º video area continues to be younger and people concerned are creating their very own distinctive approaches, relying on their wants within the second. As you enterprise into your new 360º tasks, subsequently, you’ll must figure out the instruments that work greatest for you — in your finances, for the tasks you bear in mind, and in your personal technical talents.

We hope the choices offered above gives you an excellent place to begin.

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