Clip-on 360 video with a phone

posted in: Camera Research | 0

A while back in our post about consumer cameras for immersive video, we speculated that future consumer-grade 360 cameras would be integrated into cell phones, with the biggest barrier being the lens size. Our speculative solution to this problem was the idea of a clip-on pair of lenses that would give the cell phone cameras a fully spherical field of view, and we promised to buy some clip-on lenses and test the feasibility of this idea.

Here’s our first couple tests.

We used a clip-on Cam-Rah ultra-wide 235-degree lens on the front camera of a galaxy note 4 phone (front camera because of the squarer footage ratio), filmed first one direction, then the other, with the aid of a tripod we made by cutting a slot in a foam block.

In one test we used Kolor Autopano Pro with a 6.4mm lens setting to separately distort each direction’s footage to fill half the equirectangular raw video file, then combined in Adobe Premier Pro:

We also wanted to see what could be done without a computer or expensive software, so this experiment puts the raw footage side by side (note, some of it uses the back-facing camera too, which is higher res but cuts off the footage on top and bottom):

I was surprised by how compelling the result turned out to be, despite the distortion and production ugliness.

In general we’re pretty confident about the future ability of phones + clip-on-lens to be able to easily create spherical video.