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DIY 360-Degree Photos

The easiest way to get started creating your own 3D/360°/VR media is to use Photo Sphere or similar photo stitching software on your mobile phone. Basically, almost any mobile phone will have an app built in or available for download that will let you make your own 360-degree photos. Here is a video explaining how they work.

Google also has an app specifically for taking pictures on Android phones that are viewable with Google Cardboard.
Google’s latest app can turn Android phones into VR cameras (Nicole Lee, Engadget)
Google’s Cardboard Camera App Makes Anyone a VR Photographer (Davey Alba, Wired)

Get Cardboard Camera (Requires Android 4.4 and up)
Google Camera (Wikipedia)

Here is Google’s page with instructions for publishing 3D photos to Street View.
Google Street View, Publish Photo Sphere (Google)

Here is another tutorial that provides a more extensive explanation of the process.
Tutorial: Create immersive photo experiences with Google Photo Sphere (Vanessa Schneider, Geo.Journalism.org)

Google made the process of publishing 360 photos easier by releasing VR View which provides a standard way to post images to web and mobile platforms. The launch of VR View also came with a Cardboard SDK for iOS so Apple fans can join in the fun.
Google makes it really easy to embed 360-degree VR experiences (Stan Schroeder, Mashable)
Google tackles simple 360 content embeds with VR View, introduces Cardboard SDK for iOS (Lucas Matney, Tech Crunch)

One of the apps included with Google Cardboard lets you view Photo Sphere photos that you had captured yourself or downloaded from elsewhere.
How to load a Photo Sphere on to your phone and view in Google Cardboard (Josh Pabst)

The same is true of the ability to take and see your own 360-degree photos for Gear VR.

Viewing Your Panoramic Photos in Oculus 360 Photos (Oculus Support)

DIY 360-Degree Videos

Of course, making 360-degree videos is bound to be just a tad more complicated, but it is not nearly as intimidating as you might expect. You will probably want to invest a bit, because there are some 360-degree cameras on the market now and others coming out. and you can get them at stores like Best Buy.

Here are some articles to help you choose one…
XR Guide: Choosing Your 360 VR Camera (Aaron Rhodes, Road to VR)
360 Camera Buying Guide – How to find the best 360 camera (Three Sixty Cameras)

The Ricoh Theta S is a good starter camera that can capture and publish both 360 photos and videos, and they can also be published directly to Google’s Street View. There is also a special developers site specifically for this camera: Theta 360 Developers

The relationship between Samsung and Oculus/Facebook resulted in something interesting when they released their Gear 360 video camera. It outputs plain MP4s or JPEGs, but it’s specifically designed to create video for the Gear VR.

GoPro is one of the leaders in this area, and they will be releasing the Omni VR camera that will work seamlessly with the Kolor software they bought.
GoPro’s ‘Omni’ VR camera rig officially unveiled (James Trew, Engadget)
GoPro To Acquire Kolor, A Leader In Virtual Reality and Spherical Media Solutions (GoPro)
Kolor Software

In the meantime, there are higher end options. In fact, beware, going down this road of creating 360-degree video can get addictive… and expensive!

GoPro Odyssey, Google Jump, Stereoscopic panoramic 8k video rig, IBC2015

GoPro Odyssey (GoPro)
Google Jump (Google)

Nokia also has a high-end camera that cost $60,000! Here is a video and some articles about the OZO. It is obviously aimed at professional filmmakers. Still, it will be cool when everyone can have something like this in the future.

Nokia will start shipping its $60K Ozo virtual reality camera in Q1 2016 (Jordan Novet, Venture Beat)
Nokia OZO is a $60,000 360-degree camera for VR pros (Chris Davies, SlashGear)

So there are a wide range of options available for both the cameras and software for making 360-degree videos. Here is an excellent recent article that covers the options for cameras as well as the process of making, editing and publishing them to YouTube.
How to Shoot, Edit, and Upload 360-Degree Videos (Michael Maher, Premium Beat)

Here’s a page from Google on how to upload: Upload 360 degree videos (YouTube)
Then there is a special #360 Channel on YouTube specifically for 360-degree videos.

If you own a Gear VR, then there’s a process for that, too!

Watching Your Videos in Oculus Video (Oculus Support)
Viewing Your Panoramic Videos in Oculus 360 Videos (Oculus Support)

How to Watch 3D Movies on the Samsung Gear VR (Kevin Krause, Phandroid)
How to Watch 360 Movies on the Samsung Gear VR (Kevin Krause, Phandroid)

In November of 2015 Facebook made a splash by announcing that they would be featuring 360-degree video ads on Facebook.
360 Video (Facebook).
Facebook Unleashes VR-Style 360 Videos For Ads And iOS (Josh Constine, Tech Crunch)
See the First 360-Degree Video Ads on Facebook (Tim Peterson, Advertising Age)
AT&T, Samsung, Nestle Among Brands Test New Format

Finally, once you get started, you will probably want some more resources on techniques and best practices. Luckily, there is a lot of helpful information online. For example, Google has created this course.
360-degree video and virtual reality on YouTube (Google’s YouTube Creator Academy)
Here’s an entertaining example of the lessons.

Here’s some great stuff from Facebook too.
Learning Resources: Get started with 360 Video today (Facebook)
360 Video Upload Guide (Facebook) (pdf)
Best Practices for Immersive Storytelling (Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin, Facebook) (pdf)

360° VR Video Professionals (Facebook Page)


The above is nice for capturing reality, but what if you really want to make is something that is “none-of-the-above” and more along the lines of a game or “other” interactive media (like an interface to this site, for instance)?

Yes, there is a way to do that too, but it isn’t for the faint of heart — it requires, wait for it, may I have a drum roll please? Programming! If you are up to the challenge, the most common place to start is the Unity 3D game engine. Here are a few videos to give you sense of what that is about.

Creating a playable VR environment with Unity and Samsung Gear VR

Step into the Game with Oculus Rift and Unity 4.2

This is about how to create your own 3D/360/VR applications. It’s not rocket science “necessarily” — high-school students have been known to learn to do it, but it does require quite a bit of time and effort.

The 3D Gallery interface to this site was built in Unity 3D. If you want to know more about how to make applications in Unity 3D or the web or VR headsets, then please contact the sponsor of this site to learn more info@digital-den.org.

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