You can create 360 photos by checking out the Ricoh Theta S Spherical VR Digital Camera (free at the Digital Media Commons). You can also use a fish-eye lens on a DSLR and stitch six photos together, but the Ricoh is an easier camera to start with since it stitches automatically for you and you don’t have to move your camera.
Pair your Ricoh Theta S
- Download the Ricoh Theta app (for both iPhone and Android).
- Turn on the camera by pressing the button on the side.
- Turn on the wireless function by pressing the button underneath the power button.
- Select the camera serial number in your phone’s wifi network list and enter the password on the bottom of the camera.
- The password is initialized by pressing and holding the wireless button while the power is on.
- When the wireless connection is complete, the wireless lamp lights blue.
- In Still Image Shooting mode, you can set the ISO sensitivity, shutter speed, white balance, shooting method, image size, and turn live view and post view on or off.
Camera manual: https://support.theta360.com/en/manual/s/
360 photography tips
Everything is in the photo so pay attention to what is behind, underneath and above you.
Pick a relevant and visual location. Your entire location should tell a story, not just one direction like a regular photo.
It’s much harder to light a 360 photo so look for opportunities to shoot outside in even lighting when you’re getting used to the camera settings. Avoid shooting a 360 photo at night.
People and things need to be much closer to the camera than you think because the fish-eye lens significantly distorts the image.
Are you part of the story? No? Then you’ll need to hide so you don’t get in the shot.
If you can remove your tripod handle, do it. This will save you a lot of editing time because you’ll have to remove the tripod below the camera. A light stand or monopod is easier to edit out.
Avoid holding your 360 camera because your hand will take up more of the frame than you realize.
Viewing your 360 photos
You can view the 360 photos on your phone, but I suggest transferring them to your computer to edit. You can airdrop or plug the camera directly into your computer thru USB to move the files into a folder.
Note for Mac users: Ricoh Theta doesn’t mount as a disk in Finder, but you can search “image capture” in your computer’s spotlight search to access the 360 photos off the camera.
Your photo will look equirectangular like this:
The Insta360 player will help you view it like this:
To view 360 photos while you edit, download Insta360 Player here: https://www.insta360.com/download/insta360-one
You can also use this player to take a screenshot that you can use as your WordPress featured image. This will help you avoid distorting the image.
Editing 360 photo in photoshop
Open your 360 photo in Adobe Photoshop to remove the tripod.
You can also add text to your photo, just keep in mind that it will be wrapped inside a sphere when you view it in a player.
Main takeaways from video tutorial. Using Content-Aware:
- Use the lasso tool to select the tripod
- Click edit
- Select fill
- Content aware
- Click OK
Using the clone stamp tool:
- With the Clone Stamp tool selected, position the cursor over the area you want to clone and then Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) to define the clone source.
- Position the cursor over the area where you want to paint the cloned pixels and then start painting.
Editing 360 photo in lightroom
Once your tripod is gone, import your photo into Adobe Lightroom https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/tutorials.html
The auto features in Lightroom are phenomenal. You may also want to consider lifting more shadows, adding vibrance and reducing highlights.
When you export, compress your file to 5,000 KB so it can be uploaded into a free compression website.
This may be the most annoying thing in the world:
Your audience won’t put up with a slow website. Boost your user experience (UX) by making your site lighter. A 250 MB photo may not look that much better than a 5 MB photo if you compress it correctly.
Upload your 360 photo into Optimizilla here: https://imagecompressor.com/
You can zoom in and adjust the slider bar to see how the resolution will look as you compress your file.
Uploading 360 photo to WordPress
Upload your photo to the WordPress media library and copy the image URL.
In a new WordPress.com post, add a block and search “shortcode.”
Then add this code to display your photo in 360:
Replace “path-to-photo.jpg” with your photo URL.
When you click “preview” you’ll see your shortcode now looks like this:
The shortcode will also allow a user to view the photo in a mobile VR headset.
Posting 360 photo to facebook
Editing your 360 photo will remove some metadata that Facebook needs to display your photo properly. You can add the metadata back in by downloading the Exif Fixer here: http://panoramaphotographer.com/software/exiffixer/
- Select Equirectangular
- Click Insert Fake Camera Data
- Select the Ricoh Theta S from the dropdown menu
- Select North
- Click “Add Metadata”
If you want to create a 360 video instead of a photo, here is a helpful guide to editing 360 video: https://studio.knightlab.com/results/storytelling-layers-on-360-video/how-to-edit-360-video-in-premiere/
A 360 video can be uploaded to YouTube so your audience can view the video on a cell phone (with or without a VR headset) or on a computer. Here are some 360 videos.
- Creating Virtual Reality Journalism http://apps.frontline.org/vr-report/?linkId=57140124
- It’s All Journalism podcast “360 digital video puts audience in the middle of the story” https://soundcloud.com/its-all-journalism/222-360-digital-video-puts-audience-in-the-middle-of-the-story
- 360 channel: VRtually There https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSIgn1BzT9oD5E3pk9ceKvg
- Mixed media:
- Augmented Reality: NYT “Olympic Athletes” https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/02/05/sports/olympics/ar-augmented-reality-olympic-athletes-ul.html
- “30+ Immersive Storytelling platforms, apps, resources & tools” https://medium.com/columbia-dsl/30-immersive-storytelling-platforms-apps-resources-tools-e428309574be (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.