Spinning round with the 360-degrees Camera

Do you fancy a spin? I would like you to accompany me on my discovery trips to learn everything about the RICOH Theta S 360 degrees camera. I promise it’s going to be fun!

First things first, I am a trainee at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL), University of Reading, and Reading Museum (RM). My post is being funded by the Arts Council England (ACE) to work on projects collaboratively with RM and The MERL looking at improving on co-existing relationships as well as a joint effort to benefit our audiences through digital engagement. The discovery trips which I am going to share with you here is partly one of the many things that I will be involved in with over the next 17 months.

How exciting this is to have the chance to experiment with the 360-degrees camera! My task is to experiment with 360-degree photography and video using the Ricoh Theta S camera, funded by the South East Museum Development Programme Digital Initiatives Fund.

The Ricoh Theta S is a small, elongated, hand-held device which easily fits in your pocket that is also very sleek. I also like the top part rounded shape and the ease of use that I discovered while figuring out how to use it.

My first attempt at working out how to use it was futile and I was almost on the verge of giving up. The furthest I got was to find the universal symbol to power/switch it on and off and it worked with a bright blue light turned on indicating it’s working I guessed.

Then, I also managed to find the shutter button which is at the front side of the camera which I pressed a couple of times. I could hear a sound which indicated to me that it was working although it is not the usual clicking sound that you hear from a traditional phone camera. It was more like the tweeting of a bird or a kind of a whistling sound. So far so good! But then I panicked!

How do I view those pictures? There was no screen at all on the camera device except for the front and back facing spherical lenses and three tiny buttons on one side of the camera! Aha! I thought! Among the three tiny buttons one of them had a Wi-Fi symbol above it. So, I quickly turned it on and expecting it to work straight away as if by way of a struck magic wand!

Well, to my disappointment, nothing happened. Grrrrr… What to do next? I remembered vaguely that my manager had mentioned a short while ago that there is an app that can be downloaded to operate the Theta S remotely. So, I rushed to Apple app store and downloaded the Theta S app. Alas, the Wi-Fi would not work.

O.K. I said to myself. I went into ‘settings’ on my iPhone 6s and tried connecting to the Wi-Fi but it then asked me for a password which I did not have!! Where do I find the password? So, I decided to use the World Wide Web in the hope of finding some clues and a possible solution to my dilemma…but in vain. No such luck. What else could I try?

My manager was not in for the day therefore I emailed him and sought guidance and his precious advice. Bingo! He replied back with the magic words — “User Manual or try side of the camera.” Of course, why had I not thought about this earlier? I felt very stupid and daft.

Anyway, moving on. I went back upstairs to the office and looked frantically for the user manual. I found it lying about under a little pile of papers. I grabbed it and flicked through it as fast as I could read it. There it was, under page number 5: Connecting to a Smartphone- was everything I needed to know- nicely laid down black on white with little helpful imagery of the how to do it. I followed the steps as stipulated and found the Wi-Fi password at the base of the camera device which I typed into the password field in the settings of my smartphone and held my breath for as long as I could…’’It WORKS! It works’’ I jumped up and down with joy in my heart.

So I was all set to go. Finally it was working and I could start playing and having fun with it. Hooray!

I hope that you have shared my first exploratory trip with the same excitement as I did! More to come on the fun part soon.

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