If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a 360 degree picture worth? A million? More? I think so. Imagine an image that not only shows you one famous monument but let’s you move the image to see a second one across the street from the first! How about viewing a video of a beautiful garden on your smartphone and as you physically turn with smartphone before you you move within the garden. Turn around completely and you see what was behind you before! Science fiction you say? No, this is current reality.
Yes, a touch of virtual reality, that thing where you’ve seen people wearing those seemingly silly headgear things and walking around as though they’re walking through some alternate world. When I recently got my very first 360 camera, the brand new Insta360 One, I didn’t fully realize what futuristic device I had gotten. I thought the recent excitement about 360 [degree] Video was silly. That it didn’t have much use. And I certainly didn’t need to bother with it. Boy, was I wrong!
Once I saw my virtual friend Mike Boeing posting more and more 360 images and videos on Facebook, I figured, “Wait, there must be something to this!” Then he shared that this new 360 camera was coming out, the Insta360 One. Well, I figured, I need one! So, I ordered one. When it arrived, I immediately began playing with it as though it was a normal camera. You know, point it over there to capture a picture or video a scene. Then I’d look at the picture or video and realize I could scroll on the video with my finger and see, well, 360 degrees! Amazing!
This was, indeed, a whole new experience for me as a photographer. I couldn’t get my head around it right away. So, I started searching for people posting 360 videos on YouTube. I found many, but Michael Ty (360Rumors), Ben Claremont (LifeIn360), and Daniel Pharoah (The360Guy) stood out with great content. Daniel’s videos especially gave me my Aaa-ha moment. That “now I get it” moment. Though he does walk around his hometown, London, with a 360 camera (these guys have lots of models!) on a selfie stick sometimes, what he does with the camera at locations is what got my brain turning. It’s incredibly simple: he places the 360 camera on a light stand someplace near a place of interest - think Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square - and walks away from it. Hangs around (always, I’m sure, keeping one eye on the camera), like just another tourist. He lets the camera record for a while and the resulting video is now one you, as the viewer, can explore in whichever direction you like. Brilliantly simple!
I now had a better understanding of how 360 video, as well as stills, could be useful to put viewers of my videos in the actual environment I was in when I shot it. I began thinking how I could use this capability in training videos. I was excited to take it on our next big trip. Unfortunately, though, it turned out that the mic on the unit I got wasn’t working. Bummer! I had to return it. The cameras are in short supply so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get a replacement. But I will get a replacement! And when I do, I will provide more information about the Insta360 One specifically and how I plan to use it.