New video trend?

Nokia's 360 camera 'zoo'

Nokia’s 360 camera ‘zoo’

360 Degree films have been popping up more and more over the last 2 years with the ubiquity of motion tracking and VR, and it looks like they’re here to stay. But to see where this medium first emerged, we need to go back over 100 years to the 1900 Paris Exposition. Filmmaker Grimoin-Sanson created the world’s first Cinéorama, a contraption that arranged 10 projection screens in a circle with an audience at its centre. Grimoin-Sanson used 10 synchronised cameras mounted in the basket of a hot air balloon to film its ascent, allowing the audience to experience the views in its entire 360 degrees. Unfortunately the Cinéorama was shut down by event organisers after only 3 days, as the heat from the projectors was causing people to faint.


360 degree filming flat

360 degree image pulled flat

The Cinéorama was seen as a novelty with no real world uses, and for the next 50 years it was largely forgotten. That is until The Walt Disney Company revealed Circle-Vision 360, an updated design of Grimoin-Sanson’s creation but using 9 Cameras and 9 huge projection screens. They originally screened the film ‘America the Beautiful, and whilst the idea of 360 degree film wasn’t widely adopted by any other studios, Disney continued shooting and screening films in their Circle-Vision Cinemas, and continue to do so today.

360 degree filming

in its’ circular form

Nowadays if you hear someone talking about 360 degree film, chances are they will be talking about virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift of HTC Vive, or even modern smart phones. The core principals of the technique haven’t drastically changed since the Cinéorama. Today, 360 films are shot using a cluster of HD cameras built into a single unit, allowing viewers to look up and down as well as side to side. But instead of a series of screens surrounding the viewer, a single screen is used, and motion tracking allows the software of the VR device to correlate the image on screen to the movements of the viewers head.

Rather fittingly, the first video uploaded to YouTube that utilised its new 360 Vision features in 2015 was also a video of a hot air balloon ascending into the atmosphere, posted by Full Mag:

It takes a bit of brain adjustment when viewing, it’s a strange visual experience to see a 360 image in one view, but once you get that what you see on the left meets up with what you see on the right, it helps your brain connect the dots.  This is a great clip here:

This new way of viewing media is opening up new possibilities and allowing content creators and businesses to be more creative than ever before. Adventure holiday agents are able to give potential clients the visual experience of skydiving, rock climbing, or white water rafting from the comfort of their own homes. It allows environmental companies to demonstrate the beauty of the areas that they’re trying to protect.