Our eyes are not enough anymore. We need virtual reality. We need 360 degree views of whatever were seeing and whatever everyone else is seeing. We need to upload our 360 degree views of the world to Facebook and YouTube and share the world around us with the world around us. We also need consumer friendly technology options to be able to do that. A huge spherical rig with 8 cameras is out of the question. The Monster Digital Vision VR camera is something a much more acute and affordable, even if the world around us is anything but.
Using a 360 degree virtual reality camera is a bit different than using something like a fixed shot GoPro or your third eye. You don't have to look at one point in space in order for the viewer to get a complete view of the world around you. The Monster Digital Vision VR has dual ultra-wide lenses to get a full 360 degree view. So if you want to capture every inch of your semi-charmed life, you'll want to keep in mind that the camera positioning for filming is quite important. While your third eye might be able to see into the future, your friends can't get a full 360 degree view of that future.
The Monster Digital Vision VR camera connects to WiFi and can be controlled via an app. It shoots both video and pictures, though I'm not clear as to why you are using a 360 degree VR camera to take pictures. Unless you want to take both a regular picture and a selfie at the same time. Because it's 360 degrees. Everything is easy, keep up. You can't take pictures with your third eye, or video.
Listen, it's not easy to shoot 360 degree virtual reality video. Unlike using a fixed spot camera, you want the viewer to be able to have something to look at. Most of the footage we see these days from action cameras is of action. Skiing down the hill, or riding a roller coaster or speedboat. I watched a virtual reality 360 video of riding a roller coaster and while a tad thrilling, it was disorienting. I didn't feel like I was on the roller coaster, the blurring of the world around me and disruption to the picture stitching was obvious. While the Vision VR does automatic stitching (at the edges of each 180 degree arc), that stitching is more than in the background if you are filming something you'd normally film with an action camera.
To me, a 360 degree camera is for sharing your view of the world around you. It's not for going fast down a hill on a dirt bike or a motorcycle drive by. The viewer wants to be able to look around the world and see everything, not see the blur of the scenery as you zip down a hill. Do something amazing with a virtual reality camera. Climb a mountain, go to the farmer's market or a flea market. Something with visual and aural complexities, rather than just speed and adrenaline. That's what a virtual reality camera should be used for.
"One of my favourite 360 scenes was breakfast in a family kitchen," says fellow tech enthusiast Geraldine Cremin. "Felt like I was sitting there while the mum made me coffee and the brother slurped his cereal. It wasn't action packed or anything but really immersive and intimate."
It's pulling out those immersive and intimate experiences from deep inside of you that folk seem to struggle with. They want to rush right to the extreme sports with these types of cameras, forgetting that perhaps we just want to see the world around them. There are amazing towns all over the world that would be fantastic to virtually walk through.
With that in mind, I went to the local farmer's market and taped the camera to a bike helmet. I put that bike helmet on the head of my 11 year-old daughter and set her off down the street (she was rewarded with a smoothie and beef jerky). While I did a terrible job of being inconspicuous, the result was a crisp 360 video of life in town. After editing 16 minutes of footage down to three, I spent hours trying to figure out how to add the metadata in to upload as VR. Apparently it's much easier via the app, which I neglected to use. I know, real thorough right? Watch the video below, as you can see I mucked up the VR bit but you can at least see the quality.
The camera shoots full 1080/30p (rather than the 1080/60p of most action cameras, which should imply use intent). You can tell from the video that it does a pretty good job of picking up ambient noise. I shot 16 minutes of video which came out to around two gigabytes, stored on the microSD card. Apparently anything over 20 minutes gets split into several files to make it easier to manage. The battery life didn't come into question, as once it was fully charged I didn't have any issues using it for as long as it took to play around and didn't see a drop. All these things really push the camera towards a comfortable consumer friendly experience that focuses on the casual user, rather than the extreme sport user. Your third eye hates extreme sports.
The Monster Vision Digital VR videos can be viewed with something like the Monster Vision VR Headset for the full 360 degree experience using your mobile device. Videos can also be viewed through the web by uploading to Facebook 360 and YouTube 360 and viewed flat with directional controls, especially if uploaded via the app, and not copied and messed with and uploaded like I did. You can't upload anything you see with your third eye. That's just how it's going to be.
Virtual reality should be majestic, or at least majestically mundane. That's what the Monster Digital Vision VR camera felt like to me. It felt like a more accessible way to share my world with the world, rather than a camera made to show you how extreme whatever extreme thing I'm doing is. We're not all base jumping for effect, some of us are just non-dairy creamer.
The price point is pretty accessible too. Under $400 for a virtual reality camera? That's a pretty solid deal. Sure, the lens is plastic instead of glass, but that just makes it harder to break. I didn't notice any lack of quality save for the giant smudge (thankfully obscured by the sun) I forgot to wipe off. While your third eye is free, I just don't feel it's capturing the world like you can with a VR camera.