XR Guide: Choosing your 360 Camera

XR Lab

At the Pixvana XR Lab, we’re testing a wide range of cameras to help you choose the right VR system for your project.

 

With a 360-degree virtual reality camera, you can capture the entire world that surrounds you. VR filmmaking is growing so quickly that many new cameras have hit the market this year. At the Pixvana XR Lab, we’re testing a wide range of cameras to help you choose the right VR system for your project. Before you begin, stop and ask yourself some important questions:

Does this experience really need to be immersive? Why?
How will I deliver my content?
What are my budget and production constraints? Do I need a small and portable camera, or will I have a crew to manage heavy rigs?

Now it’s time to choose a camera. Let’s start with the entry level choices. Grab a Samsung Gear three-sixty or Ricoh Theta S to quickly and inexpensively capture some VR video. These cameras are also great to bring on your shoot to assess camera height, position, composition and lighting.

In the mid-range is the GoPro Omni, which shoots in 8K with a synced, 6-camera array. Mid-range cameras don’t yet have live previews or real-time stitching, so bringing a Theta along too is a great way to preview shots.

Out of the professional cameras, the Nokia Ozo is a great option. The Ozo has eight 2k lenses that capture three-hundred and sixty degree video and three-hundred and sixty degree surround sound. It is capable of partial stereo and with accessory gear you can even live stream with this camera. If we had to choose one camera, we’d pick the Ozo because it can capture partial stereo, stream a live feed, and capture ambisonic sound all at the same time. But the Omni is a solid runner up and it’s more affordable.

On the high end, there are custom cinema camera rigs. We used a custom rig with five 6K RED Weapon cameras for our Sizzle shoot in LA. A custom rig can deliver ultra high resolution and all the advantages of a cinema camera. Beware - these rigs are heavy, complicated, and require seasoned pros, large crews and big budgets!

If your project requires full stereo video, consider the Jaunt ONE, Google Jump, or Facebook Surround 360. These systems use many cameras and custom software to create stereo output. But these tend to be even bigger and more cumbersome than custom rigs. If you need livestreaming VR, go with the Theta S, Orah Four-i, or Ozo. Keep in mind that live-streamed video is usually lower resolution.

 

visual of all the choices for a 360-degree VR camera

 

Once you choose your camera, you’re ready for production! At Pixvana, our mission is to realize the potential of augmented, mixed, and virtual reality (XR) storytelling - no matter what camera you use. We are here to simplify each stage of production, enabling creators to make and deliver high quality, immersive content.

Learn more about VR cameras from this Road to VR tutorial by our Executive Producer, Aaron Rhodes.

Learn even more about VR cameras from this Pixvana No Film School feature.

XR Lab