Solutions for Re-purposing our Go-pros for VR

Introduction

I decided to share some of the quick research I did on re-purposing some of the go-pros from a rig that was not working for the company I was consulting for. Below was what I sent them. Also a note at the bottom on some starter audio kits.

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Go-pros are a cost effective solution for testing 360 and stereo, but they also have some notable downsides. Some of which are:

  • They often overheat on a shoot
  • They often don’t record when you need them to on a shoot (sometimes you forget to turn one on)
  • Because of the above reasons the ingestion/assembly is extremely time consuming and needs a lot of disk space.
  • They only have auto color and the exposure is often way off from camera to camera
  • You can’t see what you are shooting
  • They don’t sync to one another except in a few specialized rigs
  • The higher the resolution you want, the lower the frame rate you get and vice versa
  • They are only 8 bit so it’s difficult to use on a greenscreen/bluescreen shoot

A lot of companies when using big name actors and an expensive shoot end up using a red camera with a nodal ninja so you can shoot with full color range. Others rent black magic rigs. (or Jaunt One and the Ozo) But for our purposes, it might be good to get our feet wet and start testing with the gopros we have so we can iron out any kinks in the pipeline and see what results we can achieve.

360 Camera Rigs

OK, so now I’ll mention that 360 shoots with stereo conversion is probably the most reliable stereo option we have because we work with CG and seems to fit in with our current pipeline. Because we are only shooting 360 we only need 6 cameras to shoot with the top of the line 360 go pro rig, the omni.

GoPro Omni

This camera syncs the go-pros together and also allows the go-pros to be charged together as one (my understanding anyway). This is huge because you don’t have to keep changing out the batteries during the shoot constantly. This is my recommendation for a nice professional 360 go pro professional rig. Note: Not sure if we can use our own cameras here but I assume we should be able to.

Hero 360 6-camera rig

However, fitting the underwater casing we already have, we could go with a hero 360 6-camera rig. It will not come with the syncing feature and battery features though which is a huge disadvantage. I’d sell the underwater casing and get the omni, myself.

Stereo Gopro Camera Rigs

Because the stereo rigs require more go-pros, it moves the nodal point further out and makes it harder to stitch. Many of the stereo go-pro rigs have issues with stereo going evently all the way around the horizon line because it works in stereopairs. You get stereo where the two cameras overlap, but then blank spaces on the edges that need to be filled in or they end up mono. One solution is to get 220 degree fish eye lenses, but this does reduce image quality for each gopro because the fisheye cuts into the full frame. The cameras we have seem to have 48 fps at 2.7K without the lenses.

Option 1: Ninja 800

The Trespass Ninja 800 uses 8 go-pros and fisheye lenses of 220 in order to get full coverage of the sky and overlap on the cameras. Because of the fisheye you are getting less image quality, but this loss might be offset by the ease of only needing 8 go pros for stitching and ingesting as opposed to 12 or more. It also does not auto sync and the constant battery recharging is still an issue. Nuke’s Cara VR does not have a preset for this already so we would need to try and create one.

Option 2: GoPro Odyssey

The GoPro Odyssey requires 16 (17) gopro cameras, and is missing coverage for the top side. We can, however, get mono for the sky if we use a GoPro quick release mount and a flat sticky mounted to the lid of the Odyssey, simply aligned so that the camera is centered.

Pros: The jump 3d algorithm software is incredible/cost effective and for live action only shoots, has much less cleanup work than any other go-pro rig on the market. It also auto-syncs the cameras, which is a huge bonus.

Cons: I am not sure if they will take the gopros we have already or if they will demand we buy in a bulk deal.

Option 3: GoPro Odyssey

This is good if we just want to 3d print a rig and just use the go-pros we have now. Syncing 12 or 14 cameras could be an absolute nightmare. Stitching will be incredibly manual and may have some issues with the blank spaces on the edges of the paired cameras like I previously mentioned But, it’s an easy option in terms of buying existing hardware.

Option 4: Research and make our own 3d printed one

This one requires customization and research time but there does seem to be a lot of knowledge out there that we can utilize. We could probably reach out with our needs/desires and have someone make one for us.

Audio: Something to think about

Spacial/binaural audio can be key to a good shoot and we may want to start experimenting with it.

I did some research and it looks like the microphone below is a good, professional mic for binaural recording at an affordable rate. In terms of mixing, it looks like we can mix with standard software which I have included below as well:

Microphone — http://3diosound.com/products/free-space-binaural-microphone

Pro-Tools — http://www.avid.com/pro-tools

Mixing Plug-Ins — https://www.izotope.com/en/products/repair-and-edit/rx-post-production-suite.html

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