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Oliver Peters
360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 7:23:21 pm

Is there really much of a market in the general, entertainment world for posted (not live) 360-degree video? I know it has value for scientific, educational, cat videos on YouTube, etc. But is the commercial market large or small? Did it make sense for ProApps to spend any effort at integrating 360-degree video tools into FCPX 10.4? If a large market, then I guess, yes. But if minuscule, then plug-ins should have sufficed. Thoughts?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Noah Kadner
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 7:33:31 pm

It's got a ton of interest from producers and may or may not lead to something mainstream in the future. Was it the best use of engineering resources over other less marquee more utilitarian features? Only time will tell. It's worth noting Premiere is already a couple of years into native 360° support so it is definitely a necessary feature to stay competitive. Grabbing popcorn...

Noah

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Oliver Peters
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 7:49:15 pm

[Noah Kadner] "It's got a ton of interest from producers and may or may not lead to something mainstream in the future."

That's what Nokia thought, too. Now Ozo is toast.

[Noah Kadner] "Was it the best use of engineering resources over other less marquee more utilitarian features?"

My own theory is that something in iPhone's future is driving this, so actual customer demand be damned.

[Noah Kadner] "It's worth noting Premiere is already a couple of years into native 360° support so it is definitely a necessary feature to stay competitive. "

And I don't think it was any wiser of a decision for Adobe. Just like Avid has had stereo3D for years. Also turned out to be a dumb use of engineering resources.

Don't get me wrong - I think there is some validity to 360, like maybe Facebook live or maybe BTS footage when your favorite band performs on stage. But these all seem to be covered by pretty down-market solutions and generally apply to live or delayed playback of live scenarios. The higher-end uses, like theme parks, are all one-offs, which were already covered for years by other solutions. For example, circa 1999, I was involved with a domed-theater production, which was basically a hemispherical projection. We were certainly able to do it back then.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Gerry Fraiberg
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 8:28:54 pm

I've got a feeling this might be another attempt to get people to buy more stuff. Whatever happened to 3D?
How does this move story telling forward? Maybe there will be a market in real estate.

I've been drone free since rehab.

- Gerry Fraiberg
Media Handyman - videographer, editor, photographer, voice over artist.
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Tom Sefton
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 10:06:37 pm

It’s a medium sized market that is limited by the consumer grade cameras that can actually deliver true VR, and stitch it together effectively. It’s a simple enough thing to deliver cgi based content, but filmed content is much more complex.

Once a top end solution is available for filming, it will filter down with more and more producers being asked by agencies for VR content. I’m sure it was worth pro apps adding support for this in fcpx, not just for the immediate use, but the statement of intent that Apple hardware is fit for purpose with productions like this.

We are working on some cool stuff with VR filming that we hope to have ready early next year.

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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Oliver Peters
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 19, 2017 at 11:48:31 pm

[Tom Sefton] "Once a top end solution is available for filming,"

There was. It was the Ozo camera system. There wasn't enough of a market, so Nokia killed off the product and redirected efforts of that technology division. So it's doesn't look good for high-end camera systems in this market.

[Tom Sefton] "more producers being asked by agencies for VR content"

I do think that will happen. I just don't think these will require much more than the simplest level of post.

[Tom Sefton] "We are working on some cool stuff with VR filming that we hope to have ready early next year."

Can you elaborate?

- Oliver

Oliver Peters - oliverpeters.com


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Tom Sefton
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 12:44:51 am

the ozo wasn’t top end. The image quality was crappy, it was poor in low light and unreliable on long takes. It had no way of changing convergence or setting focus effectively and recorded to a lossy mp4 format. It was highly overpriced when you compare its capabilities to the insta 360 pro which is a 20th of its price and comes with free software for anyone to use - this was more likely the reason for the demise of the ozo; a camera that was on sale that did the same thing at the same quality for 20th of the price with free control, playback and stitch software.

Anything using GoPro is suspect as I’m yet to see those shutter synced for long takes which is scary for making 3D VR.

A top end solution is yet to arrive but will come soon - excellent quality images, simple to shutter sync, lightweight and manoeuvrable, adjustable convergence, switchable lenses and high quality recording codecs.

And as to your final question, no I can’t elaborate yet, sorry.

Co-owner at Pollen Studio
http://www.pollenstudio.co.uk


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David Lawrence
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 2:40:38 am
Last Edited By David Lawrence on Nov 20, 2017 at 4:10:05 am

360 video is an area I've been exploring since 2015 and am very excited about. I think it and VR in general have been drastically overhyped (no it's not gonna be a $150 Billion dollar industry by 2020) but there is certainly something new and interesting there worth exploring.

I'm also highly skeptical of the claims that 360 is a new storytelling medium. I can count on one hand the number of "story" experiences I've seen in 360 that benefitted from the 360 medium. Most fail to do anything that wouldn't work just as well as a regular film. I personally feel like the constant talk about "story" is coming from a Hollywood-driven mindset that's looking for the next big thing to drive audience. We saw how well that worked with 3D. My colleagues and I are more interested in experimenting with place and interactive experiences rather than trying to address traditional narrative. I'm not saying narrative can't be done well in 360, but so far I haven't seen many examples that justify it.

One genre where 360 excels is documentary. Some of the best 360 examples I've seen make you feel like you're literally there. Here's one: Spike Jones and Chris Milk for Vice News documenting the Millions March in NYC on 12/13/14. Watch it in stereoscopic 360 in Google Cardboard or another headset if you have one. It's incredibly powerful.







Re: cameras - The Ozo failed because it was way overpriced and the quality was low for the cost. Over the last couple years, several Chinese manufacturers leapfrogged it with much higher quality at a fraction of the price. It's a shame Nokia shut it down but my take is they bought into the initial hype and over-invested on poorly designed hardware. I think they just decided it was time to cut their losses.

The camera companies I think you should be paying attention to are:

ZCam
http://www.z-cam.com

Insta
https://www.insta360.com

Yi
https://www.yitechnology.com/yi-360-vr-camera

And GoPro
https://shop.gopro.com/cameras/fusion/CHDHZ-101.html

Re: FCPX
It's great that Apple decided to add native tools. I think a lot of people will be glad to have them. But it's definitely playing catch-up to Adobe who purchased Mettle last year and fully integrated the Mettle toolset into Premiere and After Effects. Mettle's tools are considered the best in the industry and they're lucky to have Chris BoBotis as their Director of Immersive.

Frankly, I'm more excited about the new version of FCPX finally having a rational color grading UI, lol ;)

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greg janza
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 5:03:12 am

Thanks for all of that info David. VR most definitely has a bright future but 360 video is completely baffling to me as a storytelling vehicle.

My only experience with 360 video is the New York Times pieces and my reaction to each and every one of these videos is a big Meh. The technology brings nothing to the viewing experience other than frustration because of the requirement that the viewer select the imagery focus.

I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles


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Tim Wilson
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 8:16:51 am
Last Edited By Tim Wilson on Nov 20, 2017 at 10:29:25 am

[greg janza] "frustration because of the requirement that the viewer select the imagery focus."

It's the difference between what McLuhan called "hot" and "cold" media, and what others since have called "lean forward" and "lean back".

TV is the ultimate "cold" or "lean back" medium, even more than movies I think. Sit back and watch. Veg out.

Games are the ultimate in hot or lean forward media, which is where I think VR storytelling works great. Game controllers are vastly more nuanced than mice in my hand or me swiveling my head -- but I think you're right, Greg, that there's a fundamental disconnect in what most people want from a NYT video most of the time, which is "tell me something" and NOT "make me do something."

Heck, most of the time I resent videos on websites. I HATE podcasts. I can read a whole lot faster than any a' y'all can talk, so shut up and let me read. I'll cover more ground in less time, and then I'll get on with my day.

The other shoe dropped recently when the NYT got more specific that the original impetus behind their VR initiative was a sponsorship from Samsung to create a 360 video a day. Not that they were coy about it in November 2016. Quite the contrary, they beat the drum about it pretty loudly. NYT taps Samsung to launch immersive 360-degree video journalism project. ...but I bet that that slipped by most folks.

The thing about 360 is that it wasn't aimed at the headset crowd. The NYT had done that the year before, when they partnered with Google to give out a million Google Cardboard viewers. Mine is still wrapped in cellophane. 😎😂 But 360 today is being pushed through Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and many other platforms as something to fiddle around with headset-free...assuming you want to fiddle around at all.

Just last week, Digiday did a very informative debrief, What The New York Times learned from its 360-degree video project.

The installments for the Samsung-sponsored project, called The Daily 360, were shot across 57 countries, with the help of over 200 different Times journalists. [My emphasis -- and this should tell you something about the general level of sophistication of the project. Are there 200 experts in 360 video in the world, much less at the Times?]


So what was the biggest takeaway? People wanted to go to specific places.

[NYT executive director of virtual reality Marcelle] Hopkins and her team have approached the program as an opportunity to put people in extraordinary positions: outside Wrigley Field the moment the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, inside a NASA installation designed to mimic a Mars colony, in the ghost towns that surround the Fukushima power plant that melted down six years ago.

While some of the locations were packed with energy and action, Hopkins said that just being in a place is enough. “It doesn’t even need to be a dynamic place,” she said.

Hopkins added that real estate videos performed very well. Virtually every 360-degree video the Times published about a place to live proved “wildly popular"....


To David Lawrence's earlier point, VR (again, as distinct from 360) can work as a unique medium when you're engaging with people who are showing up to take place in a storytelling experience.

This was something that Alejandro González Iñárritu was going for with Carne Y Arena (Flesh and Sand) at Cannes last spring, and why people so completely freaked out when they saw it. It wasn't presented as a film per se (and the press was specifically instructed not to describe it as a film), but as an installation. Yeah, you put on goggles and there was a video playing, but you also took off your shoes, and entered a space to experience first-hand what it's like to attempt a border crossing.

Indiewire's Anne Thompson was pretty skeptical going in, but she gives away her conclusion in the headline: Why Alejandro González Iñárritu is the Director Who Finally Got VR Right

As I got my magic-hour bearings in the scrubby desert with mountains in the distance, people began to appear in the bushes, making noises of discomfort and pain, and as it got dark, they cowered and screamed as a helicopter deafeningly lands — the ground vibrating — and border patrol agents bark orders and threaten, pointing guns, ordering them to “get down!” It’s noisy, scary chaos, as cops pull people out of hiding, wrestle them into submission, and drag them away.

The helicopter landings are deafening and terrifying. One woman lies moaning in the sand with an injured foot, another is trying to help her; the cops eventually stand her up. Several sequences are separated by weird disintegrating flashes. One cop turned and looked at me, which was unnerving. (Up close, the faces are clearly digital.)

I could wander the terrain at will — I stuck my hand through some of the bodies, but learned afterward that you must shove your head into a body to see its pulsing heart — so it helps to be a bolder, more experienced videogame player. Others who have experienced the piece have had guns pointed at them. ....

According to Iñárritu, every viewer behaves differently. Some stay locked in position, others stay behind the cops, others hang back with the immigrants (as I did), and some hide behind a bush, or drop down obediently when ordered.


In this sense, in addition to Thompson's notation of an affinity for gaming, it has far more in common with a visitor's center multimedia presentation at a national park or something....and indeed, after the VR experience of Carne Y Arena, the viewer was taken to a museum installation-like setting with oral histories and other artifacts.

I'm summarizing what was a huge discussion that occupied a good 3 or 4 months of the year, but last month, the Academy announced that they were giving the presentation a special award “in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling,” the first such award since one was given to Toy Story in 1996.

Look, I have no doubt that some of this self-congratulatory leftism that the Academy specializes in when it's not celebrating reactionary fossilization in equal measure, but there's something afoot here, and it's real. It's also currently running at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art if you want to see it for yourself....

...but none of this changes the fact that you as the viewer are now responsible for doing the heavy lifting. Here's Iñárritu from Indiewire again.

"As filmmakers, none of the grammar tools apply. A film is about frame, the length of a take, the juxtaposition of edited images. A film without a frame is to film as a car without tires. It’s not a car anymore. It’s a leap forward. With cinema, that little hole you see through, I give you 20% as director and you figure out the other 80%. That’s the dialectic [my emphasis].”


Does that sound fun to you? Not to me, man. But I don't like games for the same reason. "I said TELL me a story, dammit." 😂

But it does sound like a challenge, and challenges generally interest me...so I'm generally interested in this, even if the specifics have thus far left me cold more often than not.

Although let's not skip past Iñárritu saying that a film without a frame is a car without tires. Wasn't kinda the point of Birdman to take away the frame? That was sort of 360-degree filmmaking with the director doing all the driving, right?

Talk about leaving me cold, though. I didn't enjoy that at all. I couldn't even finish it. I found it more vertiginous than virtuosic, aside from the fact that we nerds had a pretty good idea where the seams were anyway. It felt overly fussily staged, and I was never sure of the extent to which the filmmakers were in on the off-kilter retro feel that it evoked. It would have felt retro if Neil Simon had done this in the 50s.

That's the thing with stuff that tries too hard to get to the future ahead of schedule. Nothing looks more retro than something that aims for "futuristic".

The dialectic for developers is that visual storytelling (since "filmmaking" per se may be well beside the point) will move forward with or without the developer's help. The question is, do you want to help your customers who are moving faster than you, or do you want them to keep having to work around you?

Apple has famously traditionally chosen the latter course, so it's nice to hear them at least moving their lips in a manner that suggests that they're nominally interested in doing better...although Tim Dashwood's professionalism notwithstanding (and I've been writing glowingly about him in the COW since he was "only" doing 3D video tools), it's not at all apparent that Apple's real bet won't be paying off primarily in AR (augmented reality) tools for iPhone.

Maybe one of YOU will be working on the viral AR experience to succeed Pokemon Go, driving AR from a story engine rather than a game engine....if such a thing is even possible. We don't know yet. We'll be much more likely to find out much more quickly once we're not forcing visual storytellers to be the ones to construct the tools themselves. People started doing a lot more hammering when they could buy hammers instead of making "hammer building" as a prerequisite skill to acquire before you can start actually using the hammer.

And of course the other dimension of the dialectic is what we mean by "customer-driven" in the first place. As much as one set of customers wants to work in an environment that understands the work they're doing, they want speed, stability, and all the boring stuff too.

As one of the few true futurists among us put it so wisely upthread, [David Lawrence] "Frankly, I'm more excited about the new version of FCPX finally having a rational color grading UI, lol ;)"

In fact, I'm about to post an interview with Boris Yamnitsky of Boris FX, where in speaking with his millions of customers as the company moved forward with Mocha VR, they observed that the overwhelming majority of their customers were already doing at least some work "on the side" in 360 and/or VR, but virtually none of them were doing the majority of their work in it.

This was most definitely NOT the case for 3D, Boris told me, where they saw few people doing it full time AND few people doing much with it on the side. That never broke out of its niche, whereas by definition VR/360 is already out of the niche -- even if in its approaching universality among professional producers, it remains within a niche for each of them!

There's still a lot to unpack here. The differences between 360, VR, and AR are profound. The venues in which one can present this stuff, the amount of work it's reasonable to expect from viewers, the relative weight of narrative and "place", and a million considerations equally spaced before and after the relative tiny amount of time spent EDITING this stuff.

The LA Times actually did a stellar job laying some of this out as they were deconstructing the response to Carne Y Arena at Cannes, Alejandro Iñárritu's virtual reality project takes film to new frontiers — and questions I highly recommend the whole thing, but this is the money section.

Much of the Sturm und Drang at [Cannes] around digital technology has been centered on Netflix, which with two films in competition has provoked a backlash from French theater owners and plenty of headlines. But in a way, streaming services are not the real disrupters. They may upset theater owners, but they keep intact many of the film industry's long-standing rules and players. Hollywood in the Netflix age is doing what it has always done, it is just delivering film differently [my emphasis].

VR, though, upends the game much more significantly, changing the very way stories are told and — since hardly every filmmaker is as game as Iñárritu and Lubezki — who will tell them too. That is far more anathema to the ideology of Cannes, which reveres cinema and its masters like few others. ‎This makes it all the more surprising that festival director Thierry Frémaux enthusiastically persuaded a skeptical Iñárritu to bring the piece here (at least as the filmmaker explained it), instead of the other way around.

If VR takes off as a storytelling medium, the idea of people gathering in plush theaters named after French artistic greats to watch two-hour slices of edited film could seem as quaint as the masses gathering for the latest Bizet debut.

In that regard, at least, Iñárritu and Chivo are ahead of the curve when they say that VR could soon become a much bigger part of film fans’ diet.

“I think it could be less than 10 years when kids look at a ‎movie on a [traditional] screen and say, ‘You used to watch things on that?’” Chivo said.


*cough*Bullspit*cough* 😂 LAT kinda has it right in that while I think they're rhetorically understating the impact of non-theatrical distribution, the fact is that kids watching movies and TV series on their devices isn't going to go away in 10 years. It's going to accelerate dramatically. We're not only NOT near the end of it -- I don't think we've quite seen the beginning of it yet. The vast majority of Netflixxers have not canceled their cable subscriptions, any more than they've stopped going to the movies. We're a long, long way from an either/or proposition for most people.

I remain a fetishist of the frame, and I have no doubt whatsoever that it's partly an artifact of my age -- but honestly, what's the rise of Instagram and Snapchat if not the same thing? What's in and not in the frame matters. And much to the consternation of most of you, the fetishization of the VERTICAL frame.

But especially as someone whose actual production career was largely consumed with documentary storytelling, I'm even more intrigued with the idea of VR and 360 liberated from the constraints of traditional narrative structure. And as someone who believes that reason is vastly overrated and frequently antithetical to film appreciation, I'm intrigued by the notion of a medium that self-consciously drives itself by evoking physical space and visceral empathy.

Maybe story stops being relevant at all. We'll be applying the tools of filmmaking to something that isn't a film, and storytelling tools to something that isn't ultimately concerned with story.

Great ideas. I look forward to less annoying implementations. 😜 😎 Not that I have any idea what those might look like either. 😂

🐮


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greg janza
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 4:16:56 pm

Tim, thanks for the detailed thoughts on the subject.

The 3D experiment has revealed that people are certainly game to try new technological devices when it comes to narrative storytelling but at the same time the overall failure of 3D technology to take hold in a real and lasting way is also quite revealing.

Suspension of disbelief is the top requirement for an audience to completely engage in a film and get immersed in the story. And so the biggest hurdle for technological advancements within the medium is how to maintain that suspension of disbelief.

For me, if my suspension of disbelief is interrupted I no longer can maintain my connection to the story. So I've never been a fan of 3D because the glasses are constant reminder that I'm in the process of watching a film.

This basic hurdle is quite large and so in essence very little has changed over the years in how audiences watch and enjoy a film or tv show.

There's a fair amount of effort being put into interactive storytelling and perhaps eventually it will be a viable option but currently film and television remains a passive experience because that passivity easily allows for the suspension of disbelief.

I Hate Television. I Hate It As Much As Peanuts. But I Can’t Stop Eating Peanuts.
- Orson Welles


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Noah Kadner
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 7:37:27 pm
Last Edited By Noah Kadner on Nov 20, 2017 at 7:40:50 pm

Also getting people to watch in the helmet is always a challenge. Though the proliferation of content you can look at in YouTube/FB and pan/tilt with you device/fingers has alleviated this somewhat for casual viewers. 3D and 360º are important milestones toward the truly immersive and device-free holographic mediums technology could ultimately lead to. You need only to watch those crazy Magic Leap videos to begin to appreciate the potential.

Noah

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Michael Gissing
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 9:43:17 pm

I have colleagues in Sydney who are doing some great and innovative work with VR/ 360 and they have tried some interesting ways to get narrative into the 360 space by using floating 2D panels. I can't elaborate but it is engaging. There is much that can be done with audio in a 360 space to direct attention and create an immersive experience.

For me I have had no inquiries about creating 360 content - visual or audio but I am interested in being across the technology. If people like David Lawrence are developing in this area then it has creative potential. I'm sure all NLEs will need to include tools for this. As to the integrated versus plugin niche argument, I think this would need to be integrated to work. Supply is perhaps ahead of demand at the moment but that isn't a bad thing.


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David Lawrence
Re: 360-degree video
on Dec 14, 2017 at 9:00:08 am

Speaking of 360 video, does Safari under High Sierra finally support it? I'm not ready to upgrade but under 10.12.6 Sierra, Safari and 360 are still a fail.

Did they fix that yet?

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Bill Davis
Re: 360-degree video
on Nov 20, 2017 at 10:31:41 am

[Oliver Peters] "If a large market, then I guess, yes. But if minuscule, then plug-ins should have sufficed. Thoughts?"

Seems to me we have about 20 years now in conditioning a generation of gamers to “think” in 360 space.

Now all people have to do is find something as entertaining as killing each other endlessly - and the next big thing will maybe have arrived.

Pokémon GO was just a big virtual scavenger hunt. Geotriggered bespoke videos mapped to VR places and a bunch of other similar stuff for a million info/business purposes seem more likely to me than watching a 360 movie via headgear. But who knows?

(Sorry I can’t play more but I’ve got 4 big projects underway for my usual Early January “start off the year strong” corporate videos and I’m putting in some serious hours.)

Have fun.

Creator of XinTwo - http://www.xintwo.com
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