Words by Dave Williams
360˚ photo and video is growing in popularity, both for creators and viewers, and the emergence of a market of consumer level 360˚ cameras coming from Insta360, Ricoh, and others is making this new method of photography more accessible than before. Alongside the growth of the market, the use of these cameras is becoming more interesting owing to their affordability and performance. What’s happening here is similar to what happened with drones a few years ago in that the tech existed but was slightly out of reach in terms of price and slightly under-performing because of the limited time on the market. 360 cameras are the current version of this, and it’s time to start thinking about whether 360 cameras are for you.
I’ve been experimenting with 360 cameras for a few years and recently I’ve started to take it more seriously. The application of 360˚ cameras when it comes to creating virtual tours not dissimilar to Google Street View is a unique point right now to pitch to a business in a world where VR is prominent, and growing. I’ve been using a 360˚ camera to create virtual tours. Here’s how: -
The Insta360 One X2 has two lenses which overlap, capturing everything in every direction. The software stitches the images together and removes the monopod, leaving a photo that appears to have been taken whilst floating. I use a Platypod Max to support the monopod, so my images have the top view of my Platypod at their nadir point. Here’s how that looks:
The nadir can be easily altered in Adobe Photoshop, in this case by removing the Platypod Max. This leaves us with a blank space that we can leave as it is, or plug with a logo, an image, or some text. The fact that the Platypod is a ‘solid’ piece, almost disc-like, makes it ideal for our post-process because it’s just one object, rather than having any irregularities or obtrusions.
In the real world, outside of Photoshop, the Platypod is perfect because of it’s amazing stability, even when supporting an imbalanced, top-heavy 360 camera on a monopod. Even in the snow for the tour I made recently in northern Norway, the Platypod did a fantastic job. If you want to create 360˚ virtual tours, or simply want to be able to support your 360˚ camera to be able to take photos that aren’t handheld, a Platypod is the perfect partner.
It’s quite often said that something goes well when you don’t notice it. Well, not noticing the Platypod that helped create this virtual tour must mean it did its job perfectly.