Virtual reality (VR) and 360 video content is here. This medium can be rather useful and exciting from a viewer standpoint. Now, content creators can take advantage of this with the Vuze XR 360 camera created by HumanEyes.
I first saw the Vuze XR at CES 2019 (See: CES 2019: HumanEyes Technologies powers Vuze, world’s first 5.7K VR cameraPinbox).
More recently I was able to review the camera. I’d like to share my thoughts.
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For starters, the Vuze XR is a comfortable device to hold in your hands for an extended amount of time because it’s lightweight and has a comfortable grip (152x56x39 mm in size and 212 grams in weight). If you don’t want to hold it, you can attach it to a mini tripod via the 1/4-20-inch thread on the bottom.
The lenses are a wide-angle 18 megapixel, which offers brilliant stills as well as up to 5.7K 30 frames per second video capability. You can shoot in full 360-degrees format or 180-degrees–it’s up to you to decide.
Required apps and services
When using a 360 camera, your native images or videos will need to be stitched together. This is ideally handled by accompanying software that’s included with whatever 360 camera you have. The Vuze has a Vuze VR studio app that’s cross-platform with availability on Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. This application will allow you to process the footage you’ve recorded as well as handle special effects such as color grading or creating a “little planet.” The magical part of this app is the ability to stabilize your video footage.
Why shoot in 360 or 180 VR view?
The obvious question is why would you want to shoot in 360 or 180 VR, let alone spend money on a camera like the Vuze XR? Two answers: Immersive video and an additional angle. When shooting this type of footage you allow the viewers to gather all of the surroundings of a scene. This is highly useful for personal or professional scenarios. Taking a dream vacation at a dream location? Share it. Share the scene from all angles. Just mount the camera and allow your audience to pan up, down, and around to see what you’re seeing in crispy 5.7K resolution. Looking to sell your home? Use VR to show off the home and give the viewers a life-like perspective of the property. Even your beloved Google Maps uses this type of imagery to give you a street view of a location because it’s more immersive and really allows you to understand the lay of the land.
Content creators can use VR for vlogs or other story-telling videos. Shoot standard video, but add in wide-angle footage here and there to mix things up.
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What I like about the Vuze XR kit
The hardware of the Vuze XR is outstanding. Looking at video footage in such a high resolution is leaps and bounds above the footage created from a smartphone or typical DSLR. The camera comes with an intuitive design as the buttons and LED indicators are easily visible to help you know what mode you’re shooting. The phone’s built-in WiFi is useful and responsive as it allows you to use your mobile device as a viewfinder to see exactly what your Vuze XR captures. Capturing video at higher frame rates offers smooth footage, but if you opt for a more cinematic motion blur, you can drop to a lower frame rate such as 24p.
Once your footage is recorded, the Vuze Studio app does all the heavy lifting to get your footage ready for publishing by stitching it together and stabilizing it. The stitching works really well, and you can opt to stabilize the footage with just a few clicks. Stabilization is insanely good with these apps. Even when I used a normal gate in filming, the footage could still be stabilized and looked great without any distortion or overscaling like you’d find with Premiere Pro’s warp stabilizer. Because you’re filming at high resolutions, you’re going to get large high-quality files on your SD card. File size may be a downer, but it’s worth it.
As great as this hardware is, it’s missing one tool. I wish the $439 price point included a mini tripod or monopod. Having these devices out of the box allows you to quickly start with creating dynamic views. Low angles, eye-level angles, and above the head angles are all different views you should be able to utilize. But these are much easier if you had a mini tripod in the box or an average-sized monopod. The camera currently includes a wrist strap for added security, but that’s it.
The desktop application works great on Windows. It does its job regarding stitching and stabilizing rather easily. I did find one flaw. If you select to stabilize the overall footage as well as opt to level the horizon, the final output will be stable, but it will also include a gradual shift in the horizon line over several frames. If your clip is only a few seconds long, you won’t notice it. If you filmed a longer duration, you’ll notice the drifting horizon line. Even if the footage is captured from a tripod. I found that not enabling horizon leveling fixes this problem. Once the footage is stitched and stabilized, you can drop it into a video editing program such as Premiere Pro or Final Cut if you’d like to further process the footage.
I had fun playing around with this device was able to get a composition published just showing a typical day in the life of Ant Pruitt. All in VR. The footage and audio looked quite nice. Will you take the dive into the VR creative space? Let me know in the comments below.