I have previously posted about the 360 videos I had tested and the research for the concepts here.
In one of my previous posts I proposed the idea of shooting a group 360 interview of all the artists is a literal round table format. Although the idea is still something I want to pursue, I wasn’t able find the time to schedule this before my deadline. It was hard enough arranging individual one at a time to film, let alone four or five at the same time. I will have to think about the questions being asked to fit this style of interview as I can’t ask the same questions as I did before. For now this element will be on hold.
The 360 videos in the the previous posts are from the Insta360 Pro camera. I did experiment with a second camera after shooting John Yeadon to give a second and different aspect. I used a smaller Theta came, similar in size to a slim mobile phone, mounted on a small table tripod that I placed close to where the artists were working, some times n the bench directly in front of them. I set the camera running at the same time as the larger camera. When I came back into the studio to stop the cameras I found that the Theta had turned itself off on several occasions and would not power up again. When checking the footage back later after the shoot I found that not all of it had saved. I suspect the battery was being affected by the cold in the studio and there may have been a problem with the firmware on the camera itself. This was disappointing, but I did have a couple of usable files. Below is an example for the Theta camera.
I kept the 360 films as separate pieces. This was partially due to only having single files for some artists and because how hard it was to handle the files in Premier without their formatting. In preparation for use in Klynt I uploaded the files to You Tube. On You Tube you can change resolution and drag the screen around using a mouse on a desktop computer. If you view the video via the You Tube mobile phone app, the video fills your screen and you can pan round the video by moving your handset around 360 degrees almost if you were using augmented reality.
From speaking with the artists at the canal basin, I have decided to do a group interview with the main trustees. To add an element of interest I want to shoot it in 360. From shooting the individual artists in the studio I have found that one of the issues with the Insta360 Pro camera is that the audio levels are very low. I set out to see what alternatives I could use in an interview situation as the audio is more crucial than the visuals. I thought about using a clip mic on each on the panel members but this would require mixing the audio on a specialist system and a lot of post production. I did a search on the internet and found mention of using a Zoom H2n audio recorder that can record spatial sound being used with the camera for Facebook live. I looked further into this and found that there is a post on the Insta360 forums linking a Zoom H2n to the camera. Using a separate recorder has it’s issues, The camera has a very loud cooling fan that it samples and removes from it’s internal audio recordings, this would have to be done in post production with the Zoom unit.
I have updated the camera to the relevant firmware and have booked out the Zoom to experiment with, however haven’t got the correct cable to link to the USB-C port, so I will have to book out a USB hub to overcome this issue. I will post my findings to see if I can improve the audio in preparation for my interview.
Since I found out about the YouTube 360 app, I have been researching into documentaries that use 360 video to tell their story. There are several major media outlets that have produced films, including National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the New York Times. One of my favorites so far comes from the NYT magazine, who have a dedicated channel to 360 videos including daily stories. The film, called ‘Walking New York’, is about the French artist JR who uses large scale images posted onto the urban landscape, in this case the square in front of the flat iron building in Manhattan. He uses an image of a immigrant mid-stride to reflect that 40% of the population of New York are immigrants. The film documents how the piece was produced.
It was interesting to see techniques used and how the artist was addressing camera or the viewer. I’m not sure if I would use this idea, as I am filming my interviews as part of normal film and documenting elements of the artist working in their environments with both the 360 and normal cameras.
I have had some success with arranging filming sessions with two artists, one I shot yesterday, and one is booked in for next Saturday. I have also had a response from a third who is interested and I am trying to work out a date with.
I have rendered one of the 8K 360 videos of Alan Dyer out over night. I think I may look at editing this video with the second camera I was using for a different view point. I changed the camera height in this film from my first attempt with John Yeadon as I had feedback that the point of view seemed to be a little low. I had set it to John’s head height when he was kneeling on the floor working. For the film of Alan Dyer, I set the camera height to my head height. I think it works better this way, although I haven’t tested it on the VR headsets to see how it comes across on that viewing platform. These films take around ten hours to render approximately six minutes of footage on my laptop. I may have to see if I can access a more powerful computer.
Over the past few weeks I have been working on testing 360 video capture settings using the Insta360 Pro camera. This process has been incredibly time consuming as the video rendering has taken up to 11 hours to complete.
In the meantime I have been working on arranging shoots for my project. One of the first responses I had from my email was from John Yeadon. I arranged to film John, who is a trustee of the Canal Basin Trust, on Tuesday 7th November at his home studio. Although not a current resident of the warehouse, John was one of the first group of artists who had a studio in the space.
I spent around three hours with John, interviewing him, filming him working on a painting of the Sellafield nuclear power plant in the 1950’s and also capturing him in his studio with the 360 camera. He is a very interesting person and has been both an academic at Coventry University and a practicing artist in Coventry for a number of years.
YouTube allows you to view 360 videos in different ways. You can use your computer to view the video online, using your keyboard or mouse to move the point of view of the video around. Alternatively, if you use your smart phone, you can move your phone round and the video responds as if you looking in the actual studio. This is a very interesting point of view.
Today I had the opportunity to use the same video clip with a set of HTC Vive VR goggles. After some research into how to view 360 footage with VR headsets, I managed to play back the video. The experience was incredible, it was so immersive, just like you were stood in the room watching John in his element. This has got me thinking about what proportion of my documentary should be 360 video? My feelings are that it is more experimental than a ‘traditional’ film and therefore ’21st century’, but I have my reservations on how dynamic the footage is. I only captured one position in John’s studio and it seems a little static, but I can’t move the camera about whilst filming without appearing in the footage. I am booking a tutorial with Ken to discuss the idea before proceeding with more filming. In the meantime, I will look into testing the 360 files with Klynt and editing my interview and documentary footage of John.
I sent John a link to the video and he is very interested in me filming his up and coming exhibition using the 360 camera.