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Introduction to Spherical Photography and Video with All in One Camera Systems

November 25, 2016

Summary of the lecture given by John Warkentin - michaels Panoramic Expert - to the Melbourne Camera Club - November 2016

There is a very rapid shake up going on right now in the world of Photography - a Gold Rush in fact!! And that Gold is something called VR or Virtual Reality.

It is so new and so valuable that Facebook invested $2B US in mid 2014 just to get their hands on what they felt was going to be the key player in the rush to develop head mounted displays to distribute this new content - a firm called Oculus and their product the Rift.

Google’s YouTube then turned on the switch to enable the distribution of this new 360 degree VR commodity.

Facebook followed shortly with their 360 Video System and recently added still Spherical support and this is all running on the most popular visual distribution platform in the world.

But the missing link up until now has been the complexity in creating this valuable VR or Spherical content - that is until the recent introduction of "all in one cameras" such as the Ricoh Theta S and the Nikon KeyMission 360.

John Warkentin from michaels camera demonstrated these cameras and presented a wide range of background and historical information to showcase the potential of these new systems and point out where this technology is taking us.

The presentation started off answering the question of what is Spherical Photography. 

There is a huge amount of confusion in the market place when it comes to naming. Spherical Photography is just one of the many technical terms used to describe this type of imaging. Other terms that have been used are 360 degree, immersive, panoramic, virtual tour and so on.

In the last few years we have started to see the term Virtual Reality or VR used as the all encompassing name to describe this market. As is always the case with new technology that is looking to find a home in the consumer marketplace, a good buzzword is important to have in order gain traction.

The golden child of the new renaissance of VR has to be Oculus on the back of their headset development called the Oculus Rift. What started out a crowd source Kickstarter campaign in 2012 raising US$2.5 million turned into an acquisition by Facebook for $2 billion 2 years later.

With Facebook's pre-eminent position in the social media marketplace this single acquisition seems to have started this current gold rush with no shortage of companies and entrepreneurs rushing to stake their claims.

But like any gold rush, we know from past experience that most people failed to find any gold while a very few were lucky enough to strike it rich. At this stage in the VR game we are not even sure if there is even gold in the hills! But that is not stopping the likes of Google, Samsung, Sony, HTC, GoPro and most recently Nikon from investing heavily so that they will be ready to capitalise once this gold is finally found.

This was the basic case that was presented in this talk with an emphasis on getting in on the ground floor to discover the joys of this unique style of photography and videography using the new breed of affordable All in One Cameras such as the Ricoh Theta S and Nikon KeyMission 360.

The takeaway message being while the industry heavy weights are still fighting to work out what the future of VR will be, there are simple and affordable options available right now so that you can start exploring virtual reality.