Basics of 3d, 360 and VR Videos

We are truly in the midst of a virtual digital world.

As cutting-edge technologies becomes more and more affordable and commercially accessible, the average everyman’s creativity has found boundless options for expressions as newer forms of digital media have allowed imaginations to take more real forms.

Take for instance the craft of virtual reality videos. Just a few decades ago, the trade was an exclusive enclave of production companies that can afford financially prohibitive equipment and machines. Today however, an architect, engineer, or even a hobbyist can easily create three dimensional and virtual reality videos with simple gadgets readily available in the market. 

But first the differences. To a layman, 3d videos, 360 degree videos and interactive virtual reality videos are synonymous and considered similar technological products. However, there are slight differences which is technically considerable in the context of equipment needed to produce them. 3d videos is a singular view but with a depth of view field which means a flat view is enhanced and objects are made real but foregrounding and backgrounding of elements, still it is limited since it cannot provide an look from various angles and directions which a 360 video can provide. Interactive videos on the other hand provides 360 view plus mobility functions that allow head movement and allows functions like grasping and hitting of objects that allows literally interaction with the virtual environment. While both 3d and 360 videos already provide a rich experience as an immersed spectator or viewer, virtual reality interactive videos provide a different level of experienced as in active participant in the video.

Making a 3d videos require camcoders with stereoscopic lenses or dedicated 3D camcorders that use two lenses to record separate left and right images and allow separate processing of these images. Most basic 3d cameras capture video and convert it to anaglyph image that has to be viewed with red and cyan glasses. For playback, 3d videos can be watched on 3D capable televisions and screens.

Meanwhile, 360 videos is typically recorded using either a special rig of multiple cameras, or using a dedicated camera that contains multiple camera lenses embedded into the device, and filming overlapping angles simultaneously. Through a method known as video stitching, this separate footage is merged together into one spherical video piece, and the colour and contrast of each shot is calibrated to be consistent with the others. This process is done either by the camera itself, or using specialized video editing software that can analyze common visuals and audio to synchronize and link the different camera feeds together. Generally, the only area that cannot be viewed is the view toward the camera support. It is then rendered at high resolution with positional or binaural sound to ensure the most immersive experience possible.

Virtual reality videos on the other hand uses similar equipment such as those used in 3d and 360 video productions but requires more sophisticated computer applications for the processing of video and audio materials. Applications like Photo Sphere, 360 Panorama, and Splash allows video makers and users the ability to stitch together various raw elements into a complete virtual world. In terms of playback, it also requires special gadgets interactive googles or spectacles and motion sensing gloves.



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