Steve Benoit's Learning Journal VR in the classroom October 2018

Class 1 - Spark, Premiere and more

I've been interested in 360 video and VR for awhile now, and have been fortunate enough to have others here at Georgian interested in having us try out 360 video and VR. In the spring of this year I shot some 360 video of a recent construction project. I then made a mess of editing the video and photographs and am looking forward to learning new tools for this purpose. I published the 360 photos on my web site as a test with AFRAME at https://benoits.ca/360/ The AFRAME js scripts make the 360 images Google Cardboard compatible as well as being viewable in modern browsers. I then crudely edited the video and posted a test to Youtube at https://youtu.be/moIX-LdhAGQ . (NOTE: the week 1 assignment is below)

I've had the opportunity to experience VR with Google Cardboard (and its plastic variants), Oculus RIFT, and HTC Vive as well as the Oculus GO. With some experience in creating in Blender and Unreal Engine, I'm looking forward utilizing 360 video in these environments.

For the week 1 assignment I created a small video of a motorcycle trip through the neighbourhood from footage I recorded earlier this year with a 360Fly 4K camera. I don't like the camera software 360Fly Director as it is extremely slow to export videos, even on decent computer hardware. And the 360Fly camera shoots "fish eye" 360 video/stills as opposed to the equi-rectangular format of other 360 cameras such as the Theta S.

Lastly, portions of the content here were exported from 360Fly Director, post processed with RaceRender to embed GPS location and speed data as a graphic on the video. While this works well in a flat video, the generated data overlay did not transition well to the 360 world. Also a result of the post processing, the overall quality is little poorer for parts of the video.

The video is at https://youtu.be/1_h16B1jVsY and is viewable as a 360 video as tested with the newest Safari, and Firefox.

I'm interested in using 360 immersive video inside game environments ( Unreal Engine 4) to add realism to experience, and to minimize the numberand variety of assets required for VR immersive environments.

Now, on to week 2.

Starting Class 2 - shooting and preparing video

In planning for the next assignment, I went out to shoot some new 360 footage. My wife and her colleagues were doing an art demonstration yesterday printing large wood block prints with an antique steam powered steam roller. It was a great event. I recorded the event with 2 GoPro style action cameras and the 360Fly 360 camera. I found the lack of replaceable batteries and media SD cards a hindrance on the 360Fly as once its battery was depleted I needed to recharge it . In a classroom setting, this would mean recharging the camera and downloading the content between students using it. Also, I am now looking at Adobe After Effects to convert the camera's square image spherical or super-fisheye immersive video to the Premiere required equirectangular.

Adobe AfterEffects seems to be able to convert my spherical fisheye video from the 360Fly to equirectangualr video but I couldn't get it to batch convert all the clips. So with FFMPEG and a little shell scripting, the files are converting to equirectangular format with meta injected.

4K 360 Video is big!

I shot a few hours of video on the weekend with our 360Fly 4K camera of a steam roller wood block printing event. Working on the files on the systems I had handy with Premiere on them was challenging as they were likely a little under powered. As I was working on the video, one of the third party tools could play them back in "little planet" style, everyone loved that.

Tiny Planet - always gets a reaction

The Assignment 2 video was fun to shoot and then assemble. I learned a lot about how to use Adobe Premiere having never used to before it was a good excuse to dive in and try it out. The video ended up just over 2 minutes long. I've only added a few graphics, and one piece of text at the end, and all the default directions are set for each clip. I'm happy with the results for my first couple of shoot and edit 360 videos with Adobe Premiere. Its good incentive to keep going, and provides good knowledge for working with the video in the game environment.

The assignment 2 can be found here: https://youtu.be/zclnssOeOCw

End of Course Reflections

What I learned in this course? A lot! I had not had a chance to use Adobe Premiere before so that was great to experience. Having dabbled in 360 and VR in video and game environments, it was great to see the process to built 360 content, and how hard it is to build good 360 content. That being said, even the simplest 360 experience can be engaging and motivational.

How it felt to be a student? Good - I often take advantage of new learning opportunities.

What worked for me? I liked the self paced nature of the content with the 2 weekly synchronous live lectures. I also liked the 3 different time offerings fo the live lectures on the same day providing flexibility with my schedule.

What was difficult? Sometimes I over complicated things, I would miss a small detail in the demonstrations, and then spend 30 minutes trying to figure it out before re-watching the demonstration more closely.

How I would apply these? The course and processes were a good indication of the areas in the work flow that I/we could improve on here before the tool set could be deployed to the larger college audience here.

Thanks to all the class participants and instructors, your feedback and work are inspirational.

PS - Movement

In the footage for my second assignment I walked around with the camera for a few seconds on 2 occasions. Its very unsettling, especially when viewed in a headset, as opposed to a browser. I strongly discourage that practice. Now on to head sets

PPS - Oculus GO

I currently have an Oculus GO headset to experiment with. What a great headset! A full head mounted display with integrated speakers and microphone without the cost of a large computer or phone. It comes with a useful and functional hand controller as well. And to view our mp4 videos in 360, you can simply copy the video to the headset's internal memory. A drag and drop process like it was an external drive when on a Windows computer. MAC computer users have 1 extra step with an Android file loader. I have access to Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive as well as Cardboard units - this may be my current favourite.


Created with images by Samuel Zeller - "VR"

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