National Geographic posted the first Facebook 360° live video from the Mars Simulator research site in Utah using four Nokia OZO Live cameras, wireless mics and picture-in-picture live feeds from famous scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Of course, not everyone has Television-sized budgets and technical teams to produce to a live 360° VR broadcast with that kind of complexity, but the good news is that you can still do some compelling spherical storytelling on a smaller budget.
NOTE: Facebook's product managers report that "Live 360 video will be available to more Pages via the Live API in the coming months, and rolling out more broadly for all Pages and Profiles in 2017."
The scale and cost of this type of PR stunt indicates that Live 360° video will be a BIG deal for all of us media makers.
When Facebook decides to put their thumb on the scale of what users see (video, live video, 360° videos ,and now 360° live video) it is natural to guess that a lot of people will see these posts and Facebook will be selling ads against those eyeballs.
I advise broadcasters, publishers and educators about 360° video production, video livestreams for Facebook and YouTube, and the gear that makes all that happen.
Let's take a deep dive into a few new gear choices that complement the strategic workshops I am currently producing.
In those visits we combine research, tech and strategy to develop new business models and programming approaches for reaching the social video crowd - The YouTubers, Facebookers, Snap chatters, and Instagrammers.
One of the keys to continuous innovation is a regular replenishing of your Sandbox.
And this is the time of year that many of my partners are asking me how to spend their budgets before they expire at year's end.
A sandbox is designed for play and healthy experimentation and is assembled for the purpose of allowing the staff to test out ideas and develop new story formats before their competitors do.
These are the top tools in Robb's Sandbox for 2017.
360° Live Video Production
The Orah 4i VR camera from Video Stitch.
It features live stitching and four microphones to capture the ambisonic 3D sound which enables the viewer of the content to locate the origin of the sound source with a VR headset.
Ambisonic audio is critical to VR storytelling.
If you want to simulate what NatGeo did with live shot switching from the field, you will need something like a Sony Anycast Live Producer.
360° Cinematic film production
BH Photo bundles this six-camera rig with everything you need to capture and stitch together high definition spherical video.
And by everything, I mean it is all inclusive.
It is a fantastic camera array for offline video production.
It does not do 'Live" and it will not record 360 ambisonic audio.
To produce a 360° sound track that matches the video quality, you will need a tetrahedral microphone:
A VR Microphone
and a multi-track field recorder:
Zoom F8 Field Recorder
This is just the bare basic kit.
Sound design is super important for 360° films.
Don't take just my word for it.
Here, have a look at the audio engineering prep for a pro 360° video shoot.
You can get started with a smaller investment.
360° Mobile Journalism field reporting
You will want to experiment with the low cost Insta360 Nano for producing livestreaming 360 video reports from your smartphone.
Stepping things up a notch . . .
4K cinema camera rig
I spotted this sandbox kit at the #IBC2016 show in Amsterdam in September.
I am happy to report that my clients are now using this kit for daily video production. It is a rock solid system and a pure joy to use.
Sony a7S II Body (4k video camera)
Sony G Zeiss 28-135mm video lens
Movcam Cage for A7S II
Vocas Spider (Shoulder mount)
Video Devices PIX-E5H 5" 4K Recording Video Monitor
PIX LR Audio interface
The PIX-LR unit screws right into the bottom of the PIX-E recorder and adds high-quality dual XLR I/O featuring Sound Devices mic input preamps with phantom power, limiting, and high-pass filtering.
The PIX-E recorder allows you to capture the 4K video from the Sony A7S II as well as giving you a glorious monitor.
Put this all together and you have a powerful and extremely versatile 4K package that weighs not so much.
Production values, elevated.
Flying cameras (a.k.a. 'Drones')
The flying camera has finally come into the mobile era.
The Mavic Pro folds up small enough for me to take with on my outdoor adventures.
A drone is a special shot, but it is the shot that makes reports like this one from The New York Times simply magical.
The Mavic comes with a 4K camera AND it would be the first drone that I would want to also try attaching the Insta360 Nano camera too.
That's right the Insta360 can record video without being attached to a smartphone.
One last thing: a friendly reminder of how NOT to film in 360.