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Becoming a VR Master: Recording

The art of recording in 360, and using that footage to create your own Virtual Reality experience is a practice that any private, professional, or interested videographer is capable of. Period. Seizing the opportunity now to learn this straightforward process will expose you to this burgeoning community, give you familiarity with this new creative format that isn’t going away, and add another tool to your arsenal as a videographer. Don’t be the last videographer to jump on the VR bandwagon! If you are not offering your clients a VR video option, you are missing out on adding an attractive VR venture to your already established list of projects. Though thorough information on this practice is admittedly scarce, Foundry 45 can guide you to be a VR master.

Step 1: Get a camera and some footage!
The market for 360 cameras is a microcosm of the entire industry as you can find a range of high end cameras to rigs optimized for more practical means for most videographers. Foundry 45 has published an in-depth blog post which compares all of our rigs to one another in terms of capability, usability, performance, and cost. Obviously, broad recommendations don’t apply to every person who lays eyes on this post, but among our collection of cameras, we recommend the Kodak 360 PixPro for seasoned videographers who are getting their VR feet wet. At $900, these two cameras are capable of professional production without the technical headache induced by some more complicated rigs. Please feel free to comment with your specific circumstances if you would like a more in-depth recommendation!
hitchcock finalAfter getting a camera, knowing the difference between recording in 2D and 360 will definitely benefit you when it comes time to shoot. 360 shooting revolves much less around how one records, and more on where one records. In 360 videos, the filmmaker’s control over the viewer’s focus is significantly lessened as a result of the user’s ability to look around. This evolution in format takes away the filmmaker’s ability to isolate one key area in an environment, and, as a result, forces the filmmaker to a.) cleverly direct the user’s focus to the key area, b.) choose an environment that has multiple points of interest or c.) put the camera as close as possible to the key area (without getting too close to record!). Put your viewers in the middle of the action, and let them enjoy it in their own way! Also make sure to hide or camouflage yourself from the camera while recording. Seeing yourself in VR becomes way less cool when your realize you just ruined the immersion by being visible.

Scout GO Pro HidingThis video is going to be sweet.

As a side note that could probably go without saying: you still have to capture engaging moments. Yes, new VR technology is fascinating and has the ability to communicate so much more about a space than a 2D video; however, if you are transporting your viewer to boring place, they will absolutely lose interest. Just like shooting with regular cameras, you need to have your 360 camera ready to capture any and all special moments during production. For 360, you will be using the same creative muscle you use while shooting a 2D video, just flexing it in a different way.

stich lines 1

Stitch lines 2Understanding the impact that parallax will have on your footage is also pivotal to creating a solid VR experience. If you are using a 360 rig that involves more than one camera, you will become quite familiar with what are called “stitch lines.” More on this subject will be covered in the next section, but how well a filmmaker deals with these stitch lines can make or break the quality of an experience. The specific formation of stitch lines differs for every camera so becoming accustomed to your own camera’s arrangement is imperative if you want to avoid slicing a line through the most important person or thing in your scene. Though they can be maddening at points, stitch lines can usually be smoothed until they are invisible as long as all objects are at least 5 feet away from the camera. Due to parallax, any object too close to the camera will be sliced up irreparably. SO BACK UP! Above are some examples of stitch lines we’ve run into in our experience. Hopefully this first of five parts has helped you wrap your head around the process of recording in 360! Subscribe to our blog to stay up to date with the rest of our posts. Also feel free to contact Foundry 45 for any questions or inquiries based on our deep Virtual Reality expertise.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com.

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The Potential of VR Marketing

future is coming

The Future is Coming

Unless you’ve been living under The Rock for the past decade or so, I’m not going to be the first person to make you realize that digital technology has been rapidly evolving since it was created. Even someone with a terrible short-term memory can point to a common USB drive today, and recall how the same item costed 5x more just a few years prior. You’ve probably heard something about Moore’s Law, and, with that understanding, it might not surprise you to learn of the general exponential growth rate of technology. Expectations for the not-so-distant future vary, but hearing hypotheses from futurists like Jeremy Howard might be shocking when he suggests a designated living wage for the population after computers take all our jobs.

Anyways! I detail the overall growth of technology to help communicate how VR will improve in the coming years. Virtual Reality might be the modern day poster child of an emerging digital medium. This brand-spanking-new technology, though many mistakenly write it off as novelty, has been predicted to develop into a $80 billion dollar industry in the next TEN years! If you consider Virtual Reality to only be a “cool” format to display videos, you are severely underestimating the potential of this burgeoning tech. A user’s immersion within a VR environment blows standard 2D videos out of the water. Even when compared to 360 videos, Virtual Reality experiences are significantly more engaging than viewing a video on a flat screen. If current VR technology is already this compelling to people, imagine what we have to look forward to as it matures.

Future Spongbob gifVideo source: https://youtu.be/yk7IDVzLiQo

Among the plethora of uses for VR (some of which haven’t been fully realized yet), forward-thinking businesses and entrepreneurs have already utilized this technology as the driving force behind marketing campaigns. According to Cotton Delo at Adage.com, “virtual reality could be transformative for the ad industry.” Instead of poking advertisements into the lives of consumers through older mediums like commercials or billboards, VR marketing content actually attracts customers as a result of the level of engagement the content permits. Experiences are so much more stimulating than typical ads that users are much more friendly to brand content as a result. Not only does Virtual Reality provide more enjoyable content for viewers, but the message is significantly more memorable because it is  provided through an experiencenot a video. You’ve probably watched tons of videos today (there are dozens in this post!), but when compared to VR experiences that make you peek around and interact with your virtual environment,  VR becomes much more impressionable on your memory.

The ability to transport viewers to any environment by handing them a VR headset also provides limitless opportunities with a fraction of the budget required to take them there physically. VR specifically allows for viewer experiences that can’t be offered through any other means! For example,  Coca Cola created a VR experience for the 2014 World Cup that permitted viewers to step onto the pitch and play in a convincing fashion that no other medium can mimic. Foundry 45 used a similar development philosophy with their Georgia Tech Immersive Recruiting application which places users on the sideline of Bobby Dodd stadium during the “Miracle on Techwood Drive” play.

This fact cannot be overstated: Virtual Reality is not an updated way to view videos, but a new communication platform all its own that’s capable of previously impossible feats. Strategic implementation of Virtual Reality has the potential to yield never before seen results for your business’s marketing, and recruiting efforts. Companies large and small have pursued VR ventures to large degrees of success. Exemplary marketing uses of VR have emerged from The New York Times, Patrón, Lowe’s, Merrell, Marriott, Red Bull, Land Rover, Volvo, and even Michelle Obama! Make sure to check out all the success Foundry 45 has had with our Virtual Reality marketing efforts by checking out our case studies!

hipster vrI liked VR before it was mainstream…

In a Facebook post announcing his purchase of the VR company Oculus (a 2 billion dollar investment), Mark Zuckerberg detailed his ambition for this “immersive, augmented reality [to] become part of daily life for billions of people.” Though seeing this technology reach that large of a scale may be hard to wrap your head around, the amount of research and financial investment being poured into this burgeoning industry from all directions should communicate how revolutionary this technology can and will become. Modern media is evolving, and the presence of immersive Virtual Reality indicates a large step forward for our digital capabilities. The sooner your business can take advantage of this new technology, the more you can benefit from its innovation before everyone else realizes what they’re missing!

If you want to take advantage of this cutting edge technology for your marketing or recruiting efforts, waste no time in contacting Foundry 45 for premiere VR content.
Also make sure to check out our blog filled with other information as well as tips and tricks for VR tech.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com

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360 Video Camera Comparisons: GoPro, Ricoh Theta, Gear 360, Kodak PixPro SP360 4k

At Foundry 45, many of the Virtual Reality apps we develop rely on 360 video. While we directly shoot 360 footage for some projects, other clients ask for suggestions on 360 video cameras they can use to shoot video themselves. This blog post compares 4 popular 360 rigs, on the cheaper end of the spectrum, capable of recording spherical 360 video (both vertical and horizontal).

The video below shows camera output comparisons as well as a lot of our learnings from using the different rigs. You can also directly download the 4k 360 comparison mp4 (2.5 GB!) to view the video on Gear VR headsets.

Overall, the GoPro ball provides the best output resolution, but it comes at the expense of time and money. The GoPro rig not only costs the most, but also requires a lot of extra hardware, a decent computer, expensive stitching software, and time to learn the more sophisticated stitching. Also, with seven independent cameras, there are more things that can go wrong, like a single battery dying early, an error on one of the SD cards, or one of the cameras overheating.

While certain specific use cases will alter this advice, our general recommendation is the Kodak SP360 4ks. These have better image quality than the Gear 360, especially in lower light (not outside). However, the Gear 360 has a lot of advantages over the Kodaks. It’s less than half the price, nearly 4k, incredibly easy to use (just hit “save” in the phone app), and lets you preview a full 360 from the app. And since the cameras are perfectly sync’d, you don’t run into stitching issues with moving scenes.

With either the Gear360 or Kodaks, it’s easy to orient the stitch line away from the action, avoiding some of the more difficult stitching issues entirely.

360 Video Camera Comparison Chart

360_video_cameras_GoPro_Kodak_pixpro_sp360_gear360_ricoh_theta

Overheating and Battery Life

Sadly, we’ve had the GoPro rig, Kodak PixPros and even the Gear 360 overheat during shoots. In this regard, the Ricoh Theta seems the most reliable in our experience. If shooting with any of these rigs, we highly recommend at least one backup camera if the shoot is important. And, if at all possible, plan to only record for 5 min at a time so the cameras have time to cool off between takes. While these rigs theoretically have enough battery life for almost an hour of shooting, we’ve had fully charged GoPro batteries die in 15-20 minutes.

Parallax and Stitch Lines

Parallax is when the scene looks different from one camera to the next due to the cameras being at different locations. There is no way the differences can be blended together to recover from this, and the effect gets worse as objects get closer to the cameras.

Parallax effect causes differences between cameras. Credit bucknell.edu

There are parallax effects at 8-10 ft for the GoPros, Kodak PixPros and Gear 360, but there is only one line to worry about with the Kodaks and Gear 360. Even if you have issues with the one line, you can usually position the camera so that nothing important is on that line. For instance, have one camera face the performer, and the other face the audience.

The small parallax issues on the Ricoh Theta are its best feature. There are almost no issues beyond 3 feet away since the cameras are so close to each other.

You’ll see stitch lines from this parallax effect, and also from a lack of synchronization in the source files. The GoPro and Kodak remotes don’t start the cameras at exactly the same time, and there’s no electronic syncing of the start of each frame. Stitching software can line up the footage based on audio or visual motion, and is usually pretty good. But if you have lots of motion, it’s sometimes extraordinarily difficult to get rid of the lines. We just did a test shoot with the Kodak PixPros mounted underneath the wing of a plane, and one of the cameras was vibrating slightly more than the other. This led to a very obvious stitch line that would take a lot of post production to clean up. Since the Gear 360 and Ricoh Theta S are electronically synchronized at the hardware level, there’s no need to do an imperfect sync of the resulting footage in software.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com

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How to Take Screenshots in Gear VR

What good is revolutionary technology if you can’t show it off to your friends? As kindergarten taught me, the more you share your new toy, the more fun you’ll have with it. So if you’ve recently purchased a cutting-edge Gear VR headset, you too may wish to share your experience by capturing screenshots to distribute digitally. You’ll also need screenshots to submit apps to the Oculus Store. We at Foundry 45 have uncovered many different methods of acquiring screenshots, each with their own strengths and limitations.

Method 1: Bluetooth Keyboard Option

The most optimal option is quite self-explanatory. Connecting your phone to any Bluetooth Keyboard and pressing the Print Screen Key (or Function + Print Screen in our case) while the phone is in the VR headset will snap a screenshot. Pictures will be placed in your phone’s gallery and accessible via USB. At Foundry 45, we recently purchased this Bluetooth keyboard from Amazon, and have discovered this to be the most user-friendly method available for obtaining screenshots. The high resolution pictured quality combined with the ease of the process dignify this method over any other current solution. We officially give this option the Foundry 45 Seal of Approval.

keyboard

Limitations:

After buying a Gear VR headset and a VR compatible phone, you might not want to rush to purchase another gadget. Especially when the same quality screenshots can be captured through free, albeit more difficult methods.  If you do buy one, make sure that the keyboard you purchase has a Print Screen button! If it doesn’t, you might end up hating your keyboard more than this guy.

keyboard gifVideo Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BugexqConq8

(Note: You may be able to use a regular keyboard with a USB adapter. Though we have not tested this method, we did come across this tweet that details the process. Looks like this method requires a cable with a male USB end and a female USB end.)

Method 2: Native Video Recording / Screenshot function.

Oculus responded to their users’ communal requests by launching an update to all Android 5.0 phones which enables them to record and screenshot within the Gear VR headset.
In order take screenshots using this method:

1. While viewing inside the headset, hold the back button to bring up the Universal Menu.

2. Select Utilities from the Menu (seen below)

mhm

3. Select the Screenshot option.

4. You will return to whatever application or menu you previously using.

5. You are given 5 seconds to set up the shot. A small red dot on the screen indicates when the picture will be taken.

screen7 edited

6. After you channel your inner photographer, you should hear a shutter flash. The screenshot will be stored in your phone’s gallery and the Oculus folder in your phone’s internal storage.

Final Product

com.oculus.home-20160607-143826Sooooo prrrreeeeeettttyy

Limitations
The screenshots from this method are unfortunately low resolution (1024x1024px). Also, while this method works great for snapping pictures of apps run through the Gear VR Menu, some VR experiences don’t accommodate this function as the Universal Menu is not accessible while the app is running.

On the video side of things, there are also a few hindrances that keep the process from being entirely intuitive.

  • This function only records video, not audio!
  • Unlike the red dot from the screenshot option, there is no recording indicator when capturing video in this method.
  • Video recording will stop any time an app is exited, opened, or when the Universal Menu is opened.
  • Any streaming service like Netflix will completely negate any recording function from the VR headset. Pirates be warned!

painty vr lolARGH!

Method 3: Android SDK tools/ Adb route.
Despite its moderate learning curve, this process has proven to be the most effective way for us to capture screenshots from the phone within the Gear VR headset without the purchase of additional hardware. If you’re not afraid of the command prompt, prepare to have your mind blown.

vertigo finalVideo source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WAxDlUOw-w

Step 1) Download the Android SDK Toolkit on your PC/Mac
https://developer.android.com/studio/index.html

Install using these instructions!

Step 2) Enable USB Debugging on your Android
a.) Select the Settings Cog from the top swipe-down menu

b.) Select About Device

c.) Tap “Build Number” 7 times to enable Developer Mode

d.) Go back to the previous menu

e.) Select Developer Options

f.) Enable USB Debugging

Step 3) Connect to your Android through Wifi
a.) Connect Android to PC via USB

b.) Open Command Prompt on the PC

c.) Ensure Device is connected by typing: adb devices

d.) Should see Phone serial listed

e.) Turn on Phone Wifi

f.) Find Out Phone IP address by typing in PC: adb shell ip addr show wlan0

g.) Among all the information, locate the IP address.

h.) Should be in format: 192.168.1.111

i.) Type in: adb tcpip 5555

j). Disconnect the USB cable

k.) Type in this sequence with your IP address: adb connect 192.168.1.111

l.) Ensure Device is connected by typing: adb device

Step 4) Snap Some Shots Baby!

Dancing Wedding Photographer | Foundry 45

Video Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiccRcnjPtE

a.) Place the Phone in the VR Headset and run any app you want.

b.) Record your first screenshot by typing and entering in the PC: adb shell screencap /sdcard/screen1.png

c.) Record your second screenshot by typing and entering in the PC: adb shell screencap /sdcard/screen2.png

d.) Continue this process until your heart’s content.

e.) To access these files, simply reconnect your Phone to Computer via USB! They’ll be in DCIM/Screenshots

f.) To disconnect Phone from Wifi, type: adb disconnect

Limitations:
Obviously, technical expertise will benefit you while accomplishing this task, but if you stick closely to this guide, you can complete every step without any prior knowledge. Though being user friendly isn’t this method’s strong suit, learning something never hurt anyone (Except maybe Oedipus). Be conscious of how your headset is tilted while you enter the screenshot function because it will affect the picture. Because this process isn’t optimized for VR quite yet, screenshots will be doubled (like below) as this is what the actual phone screen is displaying. The same is the case for the Bluetooth Keyboard method, but simply cropping the image can solve this problem!

screen1
Feel free to come to us for all questions and needs related to this cool Virtual Reality tech!

Oracle Pictures   You can call us the Ora-cool

If you’re interested in creating your own Virtual Reality application for your trade show or recruiting efforts, be sure to contact Foundry 45 for premiere content!

Article Sources + Related Reading
https://twitter.com/AndrewDickerson/status/618842069734305792

http://uploadvr.com/take-screenshot-gear-vr/

http://www.sammobile.com/2016/01/06/samsung-gear-vr-screenshot/

http://www.roadtovr.com/natively-record-video-take-screenshots-gear-vr/

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com

Follow Us!

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Virtual Reality for IT Recruiting

A recent Tech Republic article discussed BetterCloud’s use of 360 video to help recruit new staff. Recruiting in tech is a competitive business, so BetterCloud was looking for a unique way to showcase their company and the people inside it. What better than a first person view of a day in the life at the company?

The BetterCloud app (iOS, Android) was created using our VR Forge platform. BetterCloud was able to quickly go from a 360 video to android and iOS apps complete with custom graphics and calls-to-action (learn more, apply now). In the video, prospects get to meet other team members, take a quick tour of the office, and even see what it’s like at one of the work stations.

ABOUT FOUNDRY 45

Foundry 45 is The Business VR Leader. We create immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for mobile platforms including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, iOS Cardboard Headsets, Android Cardboard Headsets. Foundry 45 helps businesses step into their brand story by using dynamic 360-degree video and VR app creation. Our marketing and recruiting approach captures customer experience desires and emphasize product value. We also partner with existing video production studios, advertising agencies, and other content creators to serve as their VR technical consultants and developer shop.

To learn more about Foundry 45, visit us at www.foundry45.com.

For Immersive VR inquiries, contact Managing Partner:

Dave Beck, dave@foundry45.com

Follow Us!

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