omplete QPORIT

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

 

Review: The VUZE - 360 3D VR PROSUMER CAMERA




THE VUZE
A TERRIFIC 360 3D FULL SPHERICAL
INEXPENSIVE PROSUMER
360VR VIDEO CAMERA




OVERVIEW

The VUZE is a terrific camera for FULL SPHERICAL 3D VR video photography (ie XRography). It produces high quality, state-of-the-art, 360VR format videos. For several reasons, discussed below, this may be the most consumer-friendly VR camera for full 360 3D VR.

It costs only about $799, making it the least expensive high-quality full 360 camera for 3D VR photography. This could be the camera that brings full VR XRography to a mass audience.

It uses a 4 pairs of fisheye lenses (ie 8 in total), two in each quadrant, to photograph the entire sphere in 3D. Because the lenses are parallel, there are no stitching errors in the front, back, or sides (but stitching is needed at the corner directions). The camera has 4 microphones.

It looks like a flying saucer, or an eight eyed robot. About 12 x 12 x 3 cm. It comes with a clamshell carrying case.

The camera comes with software that can extract the raw video to a computer, then render the video to a 3D .mp4 at resolutions roughly 4K per eye. It will be a while before most people have a viewing headset capable of displaying this resolution. So the videos produced by the camera will be state-of-the art for some time, even as viewing options continue to improve.

It has a fixed, rechargeable battery. Photos and videos can be stored in a removable micro SD card. THE MICRO SD CARD MUST BE RATED U3 OR BETTER AND HAVE A SPEED AT LEAST 90 MB/SEC. In my experience U3 cards of 64 GB or bigger from SanDisk and Samsung have worked well. (Smaller, slower, cards have not worked.)

The VUZE can connect with Wi-Fi to a smartphone App.

The camera has a mini USB port and a slot for a micro SD card. (It is NECESSARY to use a fast card: 90 MB/second or faster.) Content on the microSD card is read by putting the micro SD card in the adapter and placing that in the SD card slot of the computer, then using VUZE software to import it.

The controls for shooting with the camera are very simple: there is a button on top of the camera to turn on the camera and another to start and stop the video. Video can also be started and stopped by the smartphone app.

I’ve dropped it and it still runs, so it seems pretty sturdy. It is a good idea to keep the camera covered when not being used, and to protect the lenses from dirt and scratches. The lenses are recessed which helps protect them. But the camera's flying-saucer shape does facilitate the camera's flying off your lap. (Hold it carefully.)

Processing and showing the videos is not hard, and we’ll discuss that below, along with shooting suggestions. This is a simple, convenient solution (and currently the least expensive) for shooting state-of-the-art 360 3D VR videos.

Support, both through the VUZE facebook group, and direct mail to support@vuze.camera is very responsive. 


ISSUES

The VUZE is a first-generation product and it does have some problems. These are mostly annoyances that can be dealt with. Moreover, even with the current hardware, the supporting software is continually changing and improving.

Audio

The camera captures 4 tracks of ambisonic audio.  However, some special processing is necessary to extract all the tracks. Without processing and optimizing the sound in the direction of the important audio, ambient noise can interfere with the clarity of the sound you want to hear most clearly.

The microphones are tiny, and  not capable of recording great sound. For high quality sound an external microphone should be used and then manually synced to the video. 


Stitching

The software supplied by VUZE stitches the video automatically. However, as mentioned above, the stitching in the corners is difficult.  Best practice is to avoid important objects (especially moving objects and multiple objects at different distances) in the corners. To the extent possible, put the action at the front, back, and sides.


Wi-Fi connection

It sometimes requires several tries (or practice) to get the Wi-Fi connection established between the camera and the smartphone. 


Indicator lights

The indicator lights are hard to see when shooting in broad daylight. It is sometimes necessary to cup your hands around the lights to block the sunlight in order to determine the status. Using the smartphone can sometimes avoid the need for looking at the lights. However, sometimes it is difficult to handle both the camera and the smart phone at the same time.


Mac ?

At launch, the VUZE only supported Windows. I believe the software now supports MAC, but I have not tested it.



SOME TIPS

Using the VUZE is very easy. Turn on the camera, press the button to turn video on and off. Import the result to the computer with VUZE software. Render the video with VUZE software.  The software allows you to trim the start and end of the video, to restrict the Field Of View (FOV), for example to avoid the camera operator behind the camera, and to choose where the center of the rendered image will be, if, for example, you want to start with a view which was off to one side when you shot the video.

The VUZE records in constant frame rate, and can be edited in Premiere Pro and other editors.

It is not a good idea to let the camera wobble, or move randomly. Also, set it level to the horizon.

Be careful: avoid ledges and cliffs, cars, tripping hazards, and biting hazards (insects or bigger animals). Also, avoid copyright infringement (audio, video, and content); and get releases (when you need them) before you shoot. Remember, the camera captures everything in every direction.

For best results, use a selfie stick, or tripod, or monopod, to support the camera.

Speak clearly and naturally but reasonably loudly; make sure unwanted sounds (airplanes, music in the background, other people talking) are soft.

Often, keeping the camera at eye level with the subject is the ideal placement. With a single subject, keeping the camera at roughly an arm’s length works well. Since the camera has a fisheye lens, objects get much smaller very quickly as they get further away. (A herd of deer, for example, at the other end of a field may look like squirrels with short tails.)

Moderately long takes – longer than you would use with a standard movie camera – are recommended. Letting the user settle into experiencing the scene at their own pace helps provide the user the feeling of immersion and presence, the two most extraordinary aspects of Virtual Reality video.

Among the many fabulous uses of the camera are: recording life’s memories, and making creative fiction and non-fiction movies (which become more real and alive by using the exciting, realistic, and immersive presence of 3D images and a very wide field of view). Experiment with new applications!

Enjoy the VUZE!

LINKS [*]


VUZE
vuze.camera


VUZERS FACEBOOK GROUP
(Note: Vuzers is the "official" term for people who use the VUZE)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/Vuzers/


VUZE SUPPORT
support@vuze.camera


UPDATE 2017-11-23

BLACK FRIDAY SALE 
DIRECT FROM VUZE
VUZE KIT
$640


https://vuze.camera/product/vuze-vr-kit-2017/


VUZE (black, also available in red and blue) ON AMAZON





[*] These links seem to be functioning as this article is being prepared for publication. The state of change and of hacking being what it is these days, everything online is subject to change or to hacking. Links are provided “as is”, with no guarantees. Treat every link with care and a protection plan.

*   ***   *

For continuing information about all the facets of eXtended Reality, you are
INVITED

Please join us at

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup!
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/


*  ***  *

In addition to the VUZE
here are some hints and suggestions for 
GIFTING eXtended Reality products
 and getting into the development of the 
current wave of new technology!

GR = GIFTING REALITY
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2017/11/gr-gifting-reality.html

Happy Holidays!

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GR = Gifting Reality 2017


GR
GIFTING REALITY


Here are some suggestions for gifts for your family, your friends, or yourself, or for anyone interested in Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and even the other components of XR (eXtended Reality) which include AI and IoT, (including robotics) . But first, here, we'll concentrate (mostly) on VR, with more to come on other resources for other elements of XR

This batch of suggestions includes books, hardware, and other info for beginners as well as for more advanced practitioners. 

The principal ecosystems include Microsoft, Google, Facebook (with Oculus), and WebXR. WebXR is a new way to create VR and AR applications for everyone's internet. 

For the most part, cameras are independent of these ecosystems. They capture content that can be used in a viewing application (like YouTube). 

Unity is a software tool to create interactive, full-spherical (360),  3D content for most every platform. Other companies, like Apple, Amazon, Intel, NVidia, and others are just getting started with their own products.  Sony has VR games. 

Amazon is a very convenient marketplace for selling many of the products from many of the companies. (Note: we are an Amazon Affiliate.) 

For simplicity, these suggestions are organized by ecosystems. Books are listed chronologically, with the more recent first,   Note that the technology is changing very, very, very fast.  Books older than a year can be very valuable for understanding the ideas and concepts, and some of the code may still work. However, to actually create applications, the developer sites we list should be consulted for the latest methods and details!




*  ***  *

MICROSOFT MIXED REALITY 
(formerly called "holographic") 
COMPUTING

Currently "Mixed Reality" hardware for MS consists of the HoloLens, plus several headsets that are essentially actually Virtual Reality tools, not "mixed reality" (that is, the outside world is not visible). 

The software may be referred to as "mixed reality" or, at least in older references, as "holographic".


For developers, there are many reasons why MS may be the best choice of an ecosystem. It has Windows 10 behind it. The company's support offerings, including AI are super, the products will likely work with Steam and the Xbox soon, and the HoloLens is the most powerful XR display device. For pure consumers, it may or may not be the best choice of gift at this time, since there is a limited amount of XR software dedicated to these devices at the moment. But more will arrive!


WINDOWS MIXED REALITY DEVELOPER CENTER
https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/mixed-reality


BOOKS


MICROSOFT HOLOLENS DEVELOPERS GUIDE




DEVELOP MICROSOFT HOLOLENS APPS NOW





HARDWARE

THE HOLOLENS

The HoloLens, a headset (or HMD, Head Mounted Display), enables you to "mix" computer generated 2D and 3D content, shown on the vizor of the HoloLens, with the real world seen through the vizor. Distance sensors on the device allow it to map the real world onto a mesh. It has an on-board computer with Windows 10 software, so it is completely untethered. (Note: It is quite expensive, and there may be various bundles containing the HoloLens, so this link may not be the best price or bundle, but it is a great place to start.)




SAMSUNG ODYSSEY

The Samsung Odyssey headset is a moderately priced VR (ie occluded) headset that works with Windows 10 holographic/mixed-reality software. It currently has the best video display resolution on the market for any VR headset.

SAMSUNG ODYSSEY
https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/hmd/windows-mixed-reality/xe800zaa-hc1us-xe800zaa-hc1us/


ACER HEADSET

The Acer headset is a low-cost VR (ie occluded) headset that works with Windows 10 holographic/mixed-reality software.




LENOVO HEADSET

The Lenovo headset is a low-cost VR (ie occluded) headset that works with Windows 10 holographic/mixed-reality software.





*  ***  *



GOOGLE DAYDREAM

Google Daydream is the successor to Cardboard. It is now in its second generation. It is lightweight, but it requires a "Daydream Ready Phone" which means right now mostly the Pixel II. Including the phone, it is not cheap. Nevertheless, Google seems serious about developing the technology of XR, including the AI and other tools that will work together. There is not a lot of consumer-friendly content yet. But it is a good place for developers: Google is particularly interested in developing a mass-market. Of course, YouTube is a Google product, and Google is very interested in VR content for YouTube, which is one of the best, and most conspicuously, constantly, improving sites to host VR video content. (Google also has pioneered VR 360 3D cameras with the JUMP, but that is currently > $10,000.)


DEVELOPER SITE
https://developers.google.com/vr/daydream/overview



BOOKS

VIRTUAL REALITY DEVELOPMENT FOR THE GOOGLE DAYDREAM






*  ***  *



OCULUS

Oculus has two systems, the computer powered RIFT and, in partnership with Samsung, the Gear VR powered by a Samsung Smart phone. It is not clear where the best place to buy these might be. For the RIFT, you must also have a Rift compatible computer. For the Gear VR, you need a compatible smartphone. In fact, the Gear VR may be bundled with the smart phone. Both the Rift and Gear VR also have controllers, which may (or may not) be bundled with the HMD.


OCULUS RIFT HOME
https://www.oculus.com/

RIFT
https://www.oculus.com/rift/

DEVELOPER CENTER
https://developer.oculus.com/

OCULUS RIFT ON AMAZON




BOOKS

This is an old book. It is a good introduction, but for programming it is necessary to look at the latest information from the developer center above.

OCULUS RIFT IN ACTION






WEB XR

There is a programming tool that will enable the creation of a web site that can be viewed in a VR or AR headset (through a VR web enabled browser). Created from JavaScript, it is a tool called a-frame.

AFRAME
aframe.io

WEBXR
webxr.io



BOOKS

LEARNING WEB BASED VIRTUAL REALITY






*  ***  *

CAMERAS

LUCIDCAM

The LUCIDCAM is a 3D front facing VR camera that sees the entire front hemisphere and produces 180VR videos and still photos for about $500. The advantages of 180VR over 360VR are that (1) it is easier to shoot and (2) you do not have to worry about stitching, and (3) you do not have to worry about people or objects that are behind the camera. Of course, you do not get the entire full spherical scene around you.

Here is a review of the LucidCam:

QPORIT Review: LUCIDCAM -- 180VR CAMERA
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2017/10/review-lucidcam-180vr-camera.html


UPDATE 2017-11-24

BLACK FRIDAY & CYBER MONDAY SALES
DIRECT FROM LUCIDCAM
https://www.lucidcam.com/store/
use coupon LUCIDCYBER17
LUCIDCAM – 180 X 180 3D






THE VUZE

The VUZE is an eight-lens 3D full spherical 360VR camera, selling for about $800. It is currently the best value I have seen for full VR shooting.

Here is a review of the VUZE:

QPORIT Review: the VUZE -- 360 VR CAMERA
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2017/11/review-vuze-360-3d-vr-prosumer-camera.html


UPDATE 2017-11-23

BLACK FRIDAY SALE 
DIRECT FROM VUZE
VUZE KIT
$640

https://vuze.camera/product/vuze-vr-kit-2017/


VUZE BLACK (also available in red and blue)





*  ***  *

For continuing information about all the facets of eXtended Reality, you are
INVITED

Please join us at

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup!
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/



*  ***  *

These are some hints and suggestions for 
GIFTING eXtended Reality products
 and getting into the development of the 
current wave of new technology!

Happy Holidays!




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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

 

XR


XR
eXtended Reality

eXtended Reality (XR) is the convergence of interrelated new technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), AI, IoT, and more... that enable us to understand and interact with our world.


eXtended Reality consists of

• display technologies like VR, AR, MR,
• sensing technologies like IoT and XR cameras,
• computing technologies like AI and Fog / ambient computing,
• hybrid technologies like robotics (including autonomous vehicles),
• and other advances spurred by exponentially increasing computational power.
All these technologies are interrelated and interdependent, and this is all one field!

We have created a Meetup for everyone (from beginner to expert, from consumer to creator/developer) who wants to know and understand more about this vital field, which now, already! affects and will increasingly affect every area of our business and personal lives!

NYXR
The New York eXtended Reality Meetup

Our next meetup will be on Wed Nov 15, 2017

An Overview of eXtended Reality 
and a drill down on cinematic XR

Please JOIN us and RSVP at

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/



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Friday, November 10, 2017

 

SINGLE'S DAY (AND Pi DAY)


In China it is now 11/11 . 

While the Winter Holidays (Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year), Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and many other holidays celebrate social giving, to celebrate (and encourage) people giving things to themselves, SINGLE'S DAY (11/11 - all those 1's) was invented, led by Alibaba. 

Single's Day has grown by leaps and bounds, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday... etc.

Side note: The growth of Single's Day, among other facts, should remind those of us here in the US how important international business has become.  The US needs to become more international (not just in commerce, but in education, entertainment, language exposure, world history, etc.), not less.


But with all these commercial focused "holidays" (remember when "holiday" was derived from "holy day"?), perhaps this is a good time to celebrate science, math, truth, technology, learning and more, in addition to (ethical!) commerce.  Pi DAY (March 14 -- 3/14) might be just the perfect day. 

(π  = Pi = 3.14159265....)

QPORIT, QPORITXR, and NYXR
propose to
celebrate Pi Day
as a festival of knowledge
science, math, truth, technology, learning, ethical commerce, and more

More on this to come!


*   *   *   *   *

FYI...

NYXR
The New York eXtended Reality Meetup

Our next meetup will be on Wed Nov 15, 2017

An Overview of eXtended Reality 
and a drill down on cinematic XR

Please JOIN us and RSVP at

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/


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Thursday, November 09, 2017

 

INVITATION -- An Overview of eXtended Reality and a Drill Down on Cinematic XR


Please join us at...

NYXR
The New York eXtended Reality Meetup

meetup on Wed Nov 15, 2017

An Overview of eXtended Reality 
and a drill down on cinematic XR

Please JOIN us and RSVP at

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/


This Meetup will feature...

An overview of e
Xtended Reality, which consists of

• display technologies like VR, AR, MR,
• sensing technologies like IoT and XR cameras,
• computing technologies like AI and Fog / ambient computing,
• hybrid technologies like robotics (including autonomous vehicles)
• and other advances spurred by exponentially increasing computational power
All these technologies are interrelated and interdependent, and this is all one field!

Then we will drill down on 
XR cameras, reviewing the (under $1,000!) prosumer VR cameras LucidCam and Vuzeand exploring what is an XR camera. We’ll concentrate on what exists; what is coming in the future; and why it is very important!

We will discuss XR storytelling, and show why experience in film and theater helps to create successful XR content, and how understanding XR will be critical for everyone in film and theater because of the disruption coming from unstoppable exponentially increasing computational power.


NOTES

Agenda

6:30-7:00 register & network
7:00-9:00 – Announcements, News, Talk, Q&A, and then networking.

The meetup will be filmed in VR; anyone in the audience should expect they may be on camera.

The meetup is designed to be useful: to provide news, resources, insights, and how-to’s valuable to active developers and content producers, those new to the field, and support providers such as investors.

NYXR needs help! We welcome volunteers to help organize our meetups; speakers; sponsors, for example those who can provide a venue for meetups as our size grows, and refreshments for hungry and thirsty members. Please, write to me through this Meetup.


If you have an announcement, contact us at qporit@gmail.com -- there will be time for announcements at the start of the meetup.

We are looking for speakers in all the areas of XR. In particular, we would very much like speakers on AI (especially an overview of AI, with a drill-down to vision and speech processing, including “assistants”) for a meetup early in 2018
.



This meetup event will be presented by Eric Roffman, the organizer of the NYXR Meetup.

Eric is a "professional eclecticist" long interested in film, theater, science, technology and interactive computing. He has a PhD in mathematical physics; founded and edited The American Film Magazine; created an award winning multimedia computer game; backed the Rift Kickstarter; created demos on internet collaboration for IBM's Research and Internet Divisions; was director of internet programming for Viacom; created one of the very first computer generated videos to visualize solutions of differential equations, from work done at the Institute for Advanced Study; taught "Physics for Poets," and graduate level Mathematical Physics; and he has written, directed, produced and acted in dramatic adaptations of Shakespeare's sonnets. He has written over a thousand articles for QPORIT: Quick Previews Of Random Interesting Things, and has been creating 3D, 360, and VR videos, including actor, director and tech star interviews for years.


Site: QPORIT- www.qporit.com
Videos: YouTube.com/qporit
Photo-Gallery Index: http://qporit-index.blogspot.com/2013/12/photo-gallery-index.html
Twitter: @qporit
Newsletter: QPORIT'S augmented and virtual reality daily 
....................https://paper.li/QPORIT/1433372865#/

*   *   *   *   *
eXtended Reality (XR) is the convergence of interrelated new technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), AI, IoT, and more... that enable us to understand and interact with our world.
With experts, panels, and all the tools of XR, we will explore the news, the technologies, the products, the problems and the opportunities XR provides.
This meetup is for people, everyone from newcomers to pros, who wish to learn about, keep up with, and stay ahead of this rapidly developing, exceedingly important field. 
JOIN us at...

NYXR - the New York eXtended Reality Meetup

https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/




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Thursday, November 02, 2017

 

LEARNING TO PRODUCE PROFESSIONAL THEATER IN NEW YORK


LEARNING 
TO PRODUCE PROFESSIONAL THEATER 
IN NEW YORK

There are three major organizations which provide training in producing professional theater. All have events coming up this month!



CTI, THE COMMERCIAL THEATER INSTITUTE

First is CTI, the Commercial Theater Institute. Many, many important investors and producers have passed through their vital courses. I took the 3 Day Intensive several years ago. It was terrific. (Their networking is unmatched for Broadway connections, too.) They are currently taking applications for their 14 Week Program: Advanced Topics for Commercial Producers and Managers (Applications are due Monday, December 11th.) They have also just announced the next season of courses.

CTI HOME PAGE
https://www.commercialtheaterinstitute.com

CTI'S NEXT SEASON COURSES
https://www.commercialtheaterinstitute.com/shop/

CTI IN QPORIT
THE 2015 CTI 3 DAY INTENSIVE
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2015/04/cti-commercial-theater-institute-three.html



*   *   *


TRU, THEATER RESOURCES UNLIMITED

TRU, Theater Resources Unlimited started out 25 years ago and has grown in quality, importance and breath over the years. It seemed at first more focused on smaller productions than on Broadway, but now covers all kinds of productions.  They are particularly interested in musical shows.  They have periodic writer-producer "speed-dating" events. They also send out letters with lots of suggestions for affiliate opportunities for writers, directors and producers that can be very valuable. 

They are currently about to hold their 25th anniversary Gala.

TRU HOME PAGE
https://truonline.org/

TRU GALA
https://truonline.org/events/tru-love-2017/


TRU IN QPORIT
EXTENDED REALITY, THEATER, AND THE TRU LIVE STREAMING PANEL
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2016/11/extended-reality-theater-and-tru.html

*   *   *

THE PRODUCER'S PERSPECTIVE CONFERENCE

The Producers' Perspective Conference, organized by Ken Davenport, is coming up in about 8 days (November 11-12).  It has a great roster of speakers, networking, special events, and Panels on subjects including:
…=> Writers Who Write
…=> Literary Agents
…=> Finding and Working with Directors
…=> What Non-Profits Are Looking For
…=> Creating Stories for Musicals
…=> Theatrical Law
…=> Licensing
…=> General Management
…=> Producing for Festivals
…=> Raising Money 
…=> Marketing with No Money

They also have scheduled a talk by Randy Weiner, one of the world's most important and innovative producers (who brought Sleep No More to New York).


THE PRODUCER'S PERSPECTIVE CONFERENCE HOME PAGE
http://www.theproducersperspective.com/conference



RANDY WEINER & SLEEP NO MORE IN QPORIT 

DIANE PAULUS & RANDY WEINER
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2012/07/diane-paulus-and-randy-weiner.html

QPORIT: SLEEP NO MORE -- REVIEW & GUIDE
http://qporit.blogspot.com/2012/05/sleep-no-more-review-guide.html


***   ***   ***

and one more note about learning to produce

XR - eXtended Reality - includes even more than VR + AR + MR + AI + IoT +++ . 

Theater and film are very important to XR! 
And XR is going to be a very important part of film & theater.

Come JOIN us at 

NYXR - The New York eXtended Reality Meetup
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/

At our next meetup (Wed Nov 15) we'll provide an overview of XR and discuss the relation between film, theater and XR.  

Every producer, director, writer and actor should know XR!


NYXR Meetup: Wednesday, November 15, 2017
An Overview of eXtended Reality and a drill down on cinematic XR
https://www.meetup.com/NYXR-New-York-eXtended-Reality-Meetup/events/243699207






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