Traveling Back In Time

8K+ 360 3D media enables you get to relive the memory from within it from the camera’s perspective. Experiencing it one time is all you to know the paradigm shift on how we should be capturing our lives from here on out.

We’ve all wondered what it could be like to travel back in time

We have some access to the past through our media. Most of what we have today are audio recordings, and (2D) images and videos that either help us remember or imagine what a past event was like. What we are starting to have now is 360 content that inserts us directly into past events via virtual reality headset. So the part where you have to visually imagine what something was or may have been like is largely removed with (high-quality) 360 content. With your brain no longer having to focus on producing mental imagery of an event, it can instead focus on imaging the other senses. For example you may find that while viewing a 360 video of your last birthday, past feelings or smells that you associated with that birthday come back almost instantly. To a good extent you’ll feel like you are there again, though slightly altered as you’ll be viewing it and yourself in third-person from of the camera’s point of view. Most of us already have already experienced a form 360 content via surround sound audio. You’ve been to cinemas or maybe even your home theater is wired for surround sound. But what I’ll talk about is the image part of 360 content, because that’s what is new to most us and what brings immersion to a new level.

Traveling back in time via 360 camera capture
Like most time machines, you can only go as far back as the creation of the machine itself or in this case, the capture of the content.

When you put on a VR headset to watch a 360 video, how strong you’ll get the sense of feeling present within that video depends on the quality and accuracy of the 360 audio, the resolution of the images being viewed and of the VR headset, and type of images being viewed. The three types of images/videos that may be viewed within a VR headset, each producing a higher level of immersion than the previous are: 360 monoscopic (2D), 360 stereoscopic (3D), and 360 six-degree-of-freedom (6DOF). These should not be confused with resolution. A 4K or 8K resolution 360 video may be either monoscopic, stereoscopic or 6DOF.

A 360 monoscopic video capture will produce a succession of images that wrap around you entirely. Up until now monoscopic images and videos have been the most common forms of 360 content produced due to simplicity. Many VR videos on YouTube are monoscopic 4K 360 . But the simplicity of monoscopic capture and production is also its drawback: undesirable features of monoscopic images include flatness and/or the viewer getting the sense of being wrapped in a bubble. A stereoscopic 360 video resolves these issues by being able to produce images with the illusion of depth, thus providing a viewing experience that more closely mimics what we see in real life. But they are more difficult to produce as they rely on two images per frame (one for each eye) that must be handled with care during production to avoid scene distortions and eye strain. A well produced stereoscopic 360 video feels natural to view.

With both monoscopic and stereoscopic images and videos your point-of-view is fixed to that of the device that captured. This means that if we try to move your heads side-to-side or up-down during viewing, the image being viewed will do the same. This breaks immersion, but one must go into these viewing experiences with the understanding the only interaction with the scene is by looking around. 6DOF content is meant to provide full immersion by allowing the viewer to be able to freely move around the scene being viewed- crouch, walk, etc.

With 360 content you can revisit moments in great detail, or see new places as they are. The need to produce your own mental imagery is removed.

Now that it’s the year 2020, cost-wise it is feasible for the general to capture and produce monoscopic video. High-quality stereoscopic video should still be left to prosumers and professionals as cameras capable of capturing high resolution stereoscopic footage still cost thousands of dollars. Post-production of these videos is also very compute intensive, and may require terabytes of hard drive storage space. And then there’s 6DOF content which is still largely in the R&D phase and probably a good decade+ out before it may be viewable by the masses let alone produced.

For the general public the one potential turnoff of 360 content creation is the need to learn some sort of media production which may seem very complex compared to capturing (and later viewing) video from your phone. Fortunately I’ve found the process of producing 360 video to be pretty automated now unlike a few years ago. Most 360 cameras have apps that will handle all of the post-production for you and produce for you the final 360 output. However producing the highest-quality 360 content still involves manual post-production whether it be from fixing the stitch, adjusting colors, denoising or etc. But that’s just something that’s always going to separate the professional from the user, much like it does the media we are already so familiar with.

To conclude, why the mention of 8K+ specifically in the header? Because I find that watching a 4K 360 videos in a VR headset is analogous to watching standard definition (SD) content on a HDTV – SD images on a HDTV just look bad. So in a 4K VR video while you’re “kind of there”, the artifacts and imperfections of the surrounding image are so blatantly obvious they detract far too much from the intended experience. 6K resolution is better but in my opinion it’s the 8K resolution that starts to bring back the high-definition feel from within the VR headset. It’s the lowest resolution I can begin to ignore artifacts and just enjoy the video. It’s like going from watching SD content on a HDTV (4K 360 video) to 720p content (8K 360 video). So while there’s still room improvement, the point I’m making here is that since 720p is the lowest resolution where an image looks acceptable on a HDTV, 8K is the lowest resolution I consider acceptable for 360 images and videos.

That’s my introductory post on all of this. I hope you enjoyed it and I may expand on some of the finer details in future posts.

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