Watching Spherical Video.


                                                                                                                          Bill Meikle   June 25 09 last update june 2011

 I make Spherical Video. My email address is Hire me to make your spherical video. I have a new ladybug 3.

  . My shots are here:'

   To start,  I'll talk about this medium in a pretty general, chronological way.

    Since it is web  based panoramic video we're talking about, you can watch everything I'm discussing. I'll provide links.  Or maybe watch isn't the right word. Expericnce.

      if you're new to this type of video that you can drag the mouse on to move the shot's point of view, this is a good place to start.

     My hope is that by reacting to these movies in text,  I can comunicate what I think is good and bad about each one, and you can gain some critical insight into this medium. Of course, I'm also trying to gain some critical insight into this medium myself, as we create it. Critical thinking about an art form...

The story starts in the 1990's. Probably before that.

     Every one of these camera systems has media that was created with it.

     Early companies like BeHere and Ipix had 360 video solutions that were very expensive and aggressively marketed. These companies died in the dot com crash, and I think no one has taken it as seriously since.

    We did a few 360 vids on the vrscript list back in the '90's. A lot of backbuffer movies too, which are videos that don't cover the entire pano.  Still after a decade of working with QTVR and quicktime video I didn't manage to talk anyone at apple into adding panoramic video to quicktime. A fairly obvious move I thought,...

   For me, panning video leapt to a new step around 2000 with vrhotwires and the spriteoramas. These uncorrected cylinders were a cheap hack using wired sprites. I wrote the engine in a couple of nights. Still it generated lots of great movies from people all over the world. They bought vrhotwires, and in lots of different ways, made panoramic video.

   Check out my HomeScene pano shot with a single video camera. The biggest problem with shooting panoramic vid with a single camera is getting a vid camera that you can turn auto exposure off. This was one of my earliest vidpans and it's a technique I think more people should try even today...


Alberto Veronese

     This European pioneer made some awesome sourcepict sized video that I discovered one day on his site. I wrote him and asked if I could make spriteoramas out of it.
He said ok.


He shot with a two lens system. His compositional ideas are cool.
While that first beetle shot proves what doesn't work (the car drives
by fast, you get no special viewpoint) the beetle interior works great.
The exposure on that shot is special, as usually the outside will be blown out if the interior is good...
   Bissone fulfills one of my criterea for shooting moving objects: Do you have them on two sides of you? So its interesting to pan? Ya so the shot works great...
   Corn is fun, I like it better than the beetle that wizzes by in that first shot, because the camera is close enough to the guy so you have to pan to follow him. Since he is moving slower you can follow him easily.
   Would have liked more water to ripple in fiume.
    Photostudio looks like early timelapse stuff.
    St Moritz proves that a shot with lots of moving water always works.
    New York has nice lights. It would have been nice from a moving boat.
    Mulino doesn't have enough movement.
   Charlie Spirit was an early use of sound.
   I thought Charlie Spirit 2 was a nice effect. These shots are so short.
   The swimmer catches your eye in a linear kind of way. I would be tempted to dress the shot with extras a bartender, and a couple of people at the tables, but in this case the emptiness is part of the point.
Siviez is a good placement of the camera for a stream. You are drawn to pan left and right.

UCLA Imersivision.

These guys

have to be distinguished from the company called immersivision today.

They were from UCLA and made some great compositional headway with spherical video.
I contacted them and asked if I could make their linear shots into spriteoramas.

FootBall800 is a great shot. So much movement and color, and beautiful cheerleaders to watch. Sound is good too.
Football: the same thing smaller?

Skid Row: groundbreaking panning video. Social relevance, News format, Great found action all around. Nice.

Anger1-7meg again groundbreaking. This is one of a series of shots for an anger management course, but also opens
an entire category of 'panning video as simulation'. where the user is immersed in a situation.  This thread goes on for miles and miles.
I mean if you think of a language course where there is a waiter taking your order and you have to answer, its one thing, but
I'm not sure that this might be as effective in standard video.  I think things that work particularly well in 3d are like this office,
where panning around gives you new information. A cockpit with buttons all around. A traffic cop with cars all around?

Anger1-small: Another thing that Skip Rizzo pioneers is shots with talking actors in them. This thread goes on forever too.
I can see plays where the actors talk across the camera, news shows, opera...who knows?

mockparty800- I guess I'd call this one of the most dramatically successful sequences in all panning video on the web. It's just
a simulation, alienation at a party, but the effect when the people fall silent and she asks if you're ok is palpably awkward.

mockparty2000-same thing bigger.

Anger_Scene_06-  bad acting.

 AngerSecene6small -same small.

 canyon800 -      and ealy cartop shot. Car front?   It was a good camera.

DuranDuran- my acid test for panning shots of linear media: Is it interesting when you look away from the stage?  A little.

elevator: hmm I'd forgotten about this. I've tried to replicate it in a few places around the world, but this was a special glass elevator. Most of them have a small window...


Next on my list is the


a project I did in 2004. Really this paper is about composition of the panoramic shot, not so much acquisition of the shot, so this is a small diversion.


Immersive Media.

It's impossible to discuss Spherical video on the web, while ignoring the huge contribution of

immersive media

I've been passing emails back and forth with thomas hayden who took most of these shots...

I told him the shot I admire the most is the whales.

it's interesting to compare and contrast Thomas Hayden's work at Immersive Media with Skip Rizzo's work at UCLA.

The IM stuff is from the IMAX shool of big dramatic shots. We jump off bridges, out of planes, Off buildings, but always we are
a detached eye in the sky. Never is there a shot of an actor talking (maybe once) the payoff is the eyecandy, the sheer spherical roll
of scenery scrolling by...

   while skip is interested in something else. More subjective. The camera as a means to role play. The camera as an individual looking out. the camera providing not a thrill ride, but a portal into another person's world view to explore.

There are some important semantic destinctions between the two. One by nature, records environments. Another gives a unique point of view experiencing an environment.

One is objective, another is purposefully subjective.


uses lucid viewer and a ladybug mostly commercial applications.

is from a stan or a slav or a mania out east. They rock. I think there's a big future for music and spherical video..

do spherical video down in oz.  They were still using a demo of lucid viewer when I last looked.I hear they're writing their own player.

These guys are doing some cool stuff. He sent me a link to a pov pigeon shot worked.

I'm interested in these guys work with the RED video camera...the resultst don't look that great but I want a RED.

This japanese company downloaded my movie and used it to demo their format without asking.

The flycam

panoramic video .com

creating a spherical panorama player in flash using papervision.
creating a spherical video player in flash

Pablo Villamil






The 'red baron' demo that Jason uses, of a number of so cool. When you shoot with the ladybug you try to get action around you...surround the camera with kangaroos,
or elephants..but this goes way beyond the 2 sides, this shot has action on 6 sides. Really only airplanes can do this...but they could be a variety of colors and designs so there was a bigger payoff for looking around...

Addendum nov 6 09

Over the fall I've thought of this page, and things I'd like to add.

The first would be yellowbird a company in Holland that does 360 video.  They have done
a lot of PR that helps all 360 people. Of course their camera is just a ladybug 2 painted
yellow and any claims they make to be doing anything new or original are a stretch.

Also Wilhelm Busch  in Germany who does amazingly steady camera movement.

Thomas Hayden has 2 good pages going. His Blogspot and his twittering.

I really liked this spherical singalong done by yellowbird  at a concert in Britain.

and a Rescue movie that has a bit of narrative.

Just back from hollywood myself, did some shots for a Yeasayer rock video page, that will go up in a couple months.

I mean 95% of the shots I see when I cycle through t.v. channels are people. In the galleries of Rome and Greece there
are tons of ancient masterworks of people. I think the shots from cal show that it's possible to shoot people in 360,
not just scenery.

I have to agree with Thomas Hayden when he suggests that the real frontier in 360 is telling a story.

of course this work from England  points to another frontier. If 360 video can be used as the basis for polygon vr worlds

a very important synthesis can take place between image and model.

Addendum april 19 2010

The main event for me in spherical video over the last few months has been immersivision's amazing footage from the haitian earthquake. To me these shots answer the question 'what is a movie that is better when shot in 360'.

I compare the mental picture I got from newscasts, edited and cropped, to the immersivision stuff and its totally different. From the newscast I got the idea that there would be blocks and blocks of wreckage.
    From the 360 I could see how selective the earthquake really was. How important a factor construction techniques might have been.

Whatever the case I think the day when people will want to experience news from their own point of view is at hand. spherical video as a news gathering method might be the killer app we've been looking for.


Addendum Feb 2011

 after a pretty quiet year things are really moving in spherical video again. This stadium implosion shot from immersivision was the main event in 360
video for the last half of 2010.Really this doc hasn't done enough to cover these guy's continuing great work.

The doritos movies were what really marked this as an important year for 360. Costumed actors, live bands, a great new electric wheeelchair shot and a youtube component
all make this revolutionary. Way to go Yellowbird on creating ayoutube player !way to go Yransmission TX on making these great shots. The fact that these shots have no edits but a continuous immersion that is unbroken is especially great from my point of view.

This great helicopter shot
from my colleagues in vancouver  North Studio 360 is groundbreaking for a number of reasons. It's shot with a self created rig that yields a terrific resolution. Since it's from a helicopter
it has no issues with parallax error. 10 million hits so far make it the most watched pano ever!

I was also impressed with this
I think this is the year we really see 360 stories emerge!

There are some other shots this:

I have heard about but not found a black-eyed peas video and a canadian natinal film board shot too...

Addendum April 2011

Wow tons of activity in the last couple months! It's like watching a flower beginning to blossom...

Yellowbird from Holland posted 2 major projects

This Lexus commercial really shows off Spherical video as an advertising medium.Bring on the commercial work!Make sure you click on the spinning hotspots to get to 8 different shots...

This fashion project by  Louis Vuitton really shows that spherical video can be used in stylish ways..

and 360 video was used to shoot behind the scenes at the academy awards in hollywood

Really I'm very excited about this remote controlled mini helicopter work

Some skiing from Europe.

The go pano micro a spherical lens for the iphone 4 is getting kick started quickly...

Addendum June 2011

Great things are happening fast.!

First was the introduction of a new camera by g4

They showed it off with a really good music video by Devo.

Then they did a good drama in a sphere for the E3 festival.

can hardly wait to see what they do next!

then this great footage from the vancouver hockey riots by Ryan Whitehead.

360 journalism is so good! I can see a day not to far off when someone will get paid to fly around the world and shoot the centre of hot spots.

btw cbc also had the haockey games in 360!