Zillah's 360/VR update. The First VR Marriage Proposal

This week: We saw the first reported virtual marriage proposal. It comes seven months after the first virtual birth (360 live streamed to the father) announced by Samsung in March.

Consumer 360 Cameras

Consumer 360 cameras will soon start to become available in shops in the US according to this report on the 360fly. We hope to run a BBC 360 event later this year to try out a number of these cameras, alongside technical tests.

Virtual, Mobile Social Networking

And here’s one to watch – Virtual, mobile social networking from British company Starship. Fancy holding virtual meetings on a yacht from your desk? Starship released this video showing how it might work.

And following two BBC 360 launches – Strictly 360 - and a 360 marathon from Cardiff – Finishing Line 360 - here’s some tips and lessons learnt:

Strictly 360

Chris Nundy, who was behind 360 Strictly, says you should ask the following questions before 360 filming:

Is 360 right for your project? With any new technology, people want to be seen to be the first, or to show they’re embracing new ways of creating content but nothing kills a format quicker than masses of poor quality material which equals a poor user experience.

Why 360?

Is there something new or different for the viewer which couldn’t be easily replicated using standard filming and delivery processes?

Allow time to get it right

You need to recce your location to make sure there’s a suitable position for your capture rig which gives good coverage but also sits at a suitable distance to allow for better/easier stitching between the cameras. Be prepared to position and reposition your rig. If using a GoPro rig check each card as soon as possible to make sure each camera has recorded. If possible, schedule time for additional takes.

Be prepared for warts and all exposure of your studio/location/crew as there’s no real hiding when filming in 360. There’s no “behind the camera”. Make sure you’ve tidied away as many things as possible because if they’re in line of sight, they’re going to be seen by the viewer.

Here’s a piece from Ariel about how and why Strictly 360 was made.

Finishing Line 360

Robin Moore discovered some of the current challenges we are facing getting 360 footage to audiences. He writes: We managed to shoot 2 hours of footage of over 15,000 people crossing the finishing line at the Cardiff Half Marathon. And we rendered over 2 million frames in 20 hours to deliver a searchable VR experience. However, we have had to make sacrifices: we reduced the quality of the video because most people’s broadband couldn’t handle the file size and, while we successfully hosted this on the BBC.CO.UK (rather than YouTube), the KRPano 360 player used didn’t work as well for users on desktop and the user set-up for Google Cardboard is a little complicated. We also couldn’t include pause and simple scrubbing which we would have liked.

Zillah Watson, Editor, BBC R&D