Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Product Review: Ricoh Theta S Spherical Camera

Aided in part by innovations such as Google Cardboard, 360-degree video has grown increasingly more mainstream over the past year and a half. Last March, YouTube started allowing its users to upload 360-degree content, followed by Facebook later in the year.

360-degree content is created using either a constructed rig of cameras, or a camera specially designed to capture 360 video. The videos are then stitched together, using a variety of processing technologies. Information Technology has purchased a Ricoh Theta S camera as our first venture into 360-degree production. Though Ricoh is known more for their copiers, printers, and other office equipment, they were the first major manufacturer to enter the spherical camera game, back in 2013. 

The Theta shoots in full HD, with a maximum of 25 minutes of continuous filming, and ~175 minutes of total capacity. An added benefit is the Theta’s ability to live stream content with an active internet connection. Using streaming software such as Open Broadcaster Software (free and open source) anyone can broadcast an immersive experience over the web in an instant.

While other 360-degree cameras (see Bubl, Sphericam 2) offer a more sophisticated multi-camera approach, the Theta does surprisingly well with just front and rear facing cameras. It’s also very lightweight, fitting in the palm of your hand. This makes shooting film in public much more convenient, compared to walking around with an awkward cube or ball-shaped camera.

Product aside, 360-degree video is also starting to open new frontiers in the field of education. Students can now document experiences like field trips and studying abroad in an entirely new format. As an example, check out this virtual museum tour produced by one of LC’s very own students.        

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