I have just bought a Samsung Gear 360 (2017) camera and absolutely love it. This is the start of my 360 story, where I will attempt to capture my interests in 360, as well as 2d video. I have recently been fascinated in 360, 3D and virtual reality imagery, from Ben Claremont and his Tiny Planets photographs, to YouTube’s 360 videos and the Samsung Gear VR2 headset.
However, looking back, I have always been intrigued by this concept. As a child growing
up in the 1970s, I think every kid had a ViewMaster in their toy box. I must have spent hours looking through the viewer, but I can only remember have the slides for Jungle Book. I probably spent more time looking through it without slides and pretending it was a flashy camera.
I also remember a time, when I was round my Nan’s house in Tooting. Her neighbor came round with his ViewMaster and a box of slides. His ViewMaster was an old beige colour and the slides were still 3D, but in black and white and featured landscapes of European cities. I remember being shocked at how old this toy was and impressed with the amount of slides he had. I was great spending the afternoon, taking turns to look at the images and all trying to work out where they were taken.
My next memory was again around my Nan’s. It must have been the late 1970s or early 1980s and the UK aired their first ever 3D feature on UK TV. I think it was a Western and in black and white. Free glasses were issued in the Radio Times, these had one eye green and the other red. Again we all took turns in watching the film in 3D, which was amazing for the time, but rubbish to watch without the glasses. A few years later, I think they released Jaws in 3D, I don’t think I ever watched it, but I do remember the hype.
Around the late 1980s or early 1990s we had a new craze, 3D posters. Everyone had a poster, box or postcard that had some weird design on it, but if you let your eyes go cross eyed, it would reveal a 3D image. It was one of those things that you could either do easily or not at all. Here is an example, can you see what it is?
The next big thing that came along was 3D TVs and Blueray players. These were expensive and you had to wear glasses to view it. Cinemas started to show movies too. If the footage was filmed with a 3D camera, then the results were awesome, but many films were converted to 3D, making the image look sterophonic, but with the images falling into the TV, rather than the image coming out at you. The industry seemed not to pursue this and it fell by the way side, but it was at this time things were really warming up.
It was several years ago now, when my office was reviewing some of the latest technology. They had the Google glass and some other smart glasses, and then Samsung Gear VR. The smart glasses were impressive and undoubtedly very useful for many workplace applications, but the Samsung Gear VR stood out as a game change.
My first experience was the video shot above the New York skyscrapers. I was totally won over by the sheer immersion into this alternative view, then I looked down, and to my horror I experienced instant vertigo, as I realised I was just “floating” in the sky! Right there and then I was hooked and knew this was not only a new chapter for 3D, 360 virtual reality, but for the whole entertainment industry.
A few years had to pass for me to have the spare cash to by the headset, but now I can enjoy and learn this new technology has to offer. I love the games, the documentaries, the reaction you get from people when you show them VR for the first time, but most of all, I love the 360 photography. I love the fact that the photographer has captured an imagine and VR can now place you exactly in that place and time. You can look left, right, up and down, all around you and see what they are seeing, but all to scale. Not on a small photograph or TV screen, but the same physical size as the real thing.
This is what sold me. I love looking back at old photos and videos of my love ones, especially the ones that have pasted away. It made me want to capture everything now, so I can share these memories we make, with my family and friends, as well all my future grandchildren. So this is where I am now. I bought the Samsung Gear 360 (2017) and have started to photograph and film our activities. My story starts here…