(SOURCE: The following is the first article in a series from VRExperience.net)
NOTE: Updates are added to this article as they occur.
A lot of us would like to take part in the 360 degree video revolution but when you look on the sites at what is needed it all seems a little pricey. After all, these are only 1080p camera which every mobile phone has and the technology is not that expensive unless you want the branded cameras or very high end optics and sensors. All of these cameras when fitted with the cover case can go under water as well to 30m apparently.
My total build cost is £225 so far plus the software, but that is less than just the GoPro mounting frames and also less than one GoPro 3+ silver with the display screen on the back and has the same specification of 1080p and 30fps. I also did the research, and whilst the SJ4000’s have slightly more saturated colour in hy personal opinion I actually prefer it over the GoPro, but no doubt I will get shot for saying that, however, it could be me liking because it is cheaper and accepting differences.
So I have now received 6 GoPro clone cameras, or more to the point, the cheap imitation of the clone of the GoPro camera 🙂
Whilst we are going to design and 3D a proper mounting, whilst visiting my local maplins for with what I needed in my head. The salesman pointed me to a 120mm fan opening cover frame. Two of these make a very low cost 360 camera frame with all the parts included in the cameras and some extra bolts and was here from Screwfix.
Any way, I will follow this story up with a report on the stitching and examples and add to this story. I will be using AutoPano Video from Kolor.com and this costs 399 euros alone but is quality software.
Parts so far.
- 6 x SJ4000, not SJCAM, so they are moaning about copies, ironic I think. £36 each, with display and wifi.
- 2 x 120mm circular fan covers – £3 each.
- 6 x M6 12mm bolts about a £1
- 30 x M6 washers about a £1
All this mounts onto my camera tripod.
First hiccup has happened and let it be a lesson for us all, to be honest I should have know better with my experience.
The first SJ4000 I ordered to test if quality was good enough was great and I am very pleased with it so I thought now I will order more. But I thought it may be handy to get the Wifi version. Unfortunately I was stupid and did not buy one to test first and ordered 5. These turned out have used a cheaper sensor to allow the additional cost of wifi. Result, worse video. I have now gone direct to the chinese manufacturer of the SJCAM’s and await 6 of these models which I expect to be much better quailty. More importantly was the fact that whilst the first camera nailed an accurate 30fps, the rest were showing any where between 29.65-29.75 which meant stitching software spat them out.
Moral of this hiccup, if you find a good camera, order the same 🙂
Update 27th July
New cameras arrive from China, these are now the SJCAM SJ4000 cameras and to be honest perform the same as the original camera I purchased so I am back on track. The first test of five cameras stitched well, now I am working on the full 360 mount system which I hope to show soon. I think it will be novel and very flexible. Getting great support from the chinese manufacturer who actually make these cameras not just sell them so good to talk to the source.
Update 11th August
So three final cameras arrived from China and I can now get more or less 360 degree coverage but my mounting system is not ideal or accurate so this should be sorted in the proper mount I am designing at the moment.
Some people will say straight away, look at the state of the colours and you are missing so much. Truth is I am missing a small triangle at the top and the bottom with this really rough and incacurate setup. Also, the naysayers will moan about the colours, i.e. the red parts. This seems to be because I have them set to auto ISO and so I will correct that.
My opinion is that this project is now worth spending the money on the full version of AutoPano software and getting the mount I am designing working.
Here is the camera as it stands now, the frame still only cost £5, but now it also sports a 10 way USB hub, very rickety but progressing nicely 🙂
I will do another update soon but now it seems I am now a 10 camera system which I assume is because of the 16:9 aspect ration only, however, I am at present getting a nice 3840×1920 video output.
Update 13 September 2015
Finally finished and received the 3D printed version of my new holder design. In the end, due to the aspect ratio of the budget camera’s I had to go to 12 cameras. However, it has meant now that the holder can be configured as a center strip system with circle at the top and bottom or with 3 cameras added to the top and 3 at the bottom then it becomes a full 360 degree camera system.
Now I am working on software so that the Kolor.com software is not needed, wish me luck.
Video of the new mount
Live Horizontal Viewer software
This is my test software for viewing and manipulating the video output from these $50 cameras.
Story so far video
Before you purchase a mount from Shapeways shpws.me/Ka9n please watch this video below.