Future Cinema – 360 Degree Camera Mount

360 Degree Camera

360 degree camera mount

Fig 1.0 360 degree camera mount

While researching for new ideas for Future Cinema project I considered doing something involving 360 degree video. Although there are now specialised cameras and attachments for cameras that can capture a 360 degree image, I thought of doing something involving time lapse photography.

For this application any digital camera will do as long as it can be set to take an image automatically for example once every 5 seconds, other intervals will give different results depending over what time period the images will be taken. Most cameras will have a remote shutter release and with the use of a programmable controller, the time between photos can be set along with shutter duration and the overall time sequence.

Building the 360 Degree Camera Mount

Fig 2.0 360 Degree Camera Mount

Fig 2.0 360 Degree Camera Mount

Using materials to hand I built a small turntable that can accommodate a camera that automatically turns 360 degrees in an hour. (see Fig 1)

As you can see it’s made from a kitchen timer a circular plastic disk (base from a DVD storage case) and a  large blob of BluTack to hold it on to the top of the timer. One of the many benefits of this very simple design is that by using a clockwork mechanism, no power is required, which allows you to use this anywhere without worrying about having a power connection or batteries. Of course the camera still needs batteries and you should make sure that these are fully charged and have the capacity to run for at least an hour plus 20%.

To use the 360 degree camera mount all you need do is place the camera onto the mount turn the timer to 60 minutes, start the camera in time lapse mode and leave it to run. It even rings to let you know when the hour has passed and one complete 360 degree rotation has been completed.

Then all you have to do is upload the images into a folder and by using some form of video editing application, create a time lapse video. Quicktime and Windows Video Maker will do this as will any number of similar video editing tools.

Hero GoPro HD Camera

Fig 3.0 Hero GoPro HD Camera

Small cameras that can do time lapse include the GoPro and iPhone with the time lapse App.

In the photograph Fig 4.0 I’ve shown how you can mount an iPhone 4 or any iPhone using a small Gorilla Pod to locate it onto the 360 degree camera mount.

Time Lapse Video – Suitable Subjects

My first idea was to mount the camera mount onto a tripod and set this up in the University Refectory just before lunchtime and set it to record for an hour. The video should record an empty refectory rapidly filling up with students moving around the camera in a complete 360 degree rotation.

iPhone 360 Degree Camera Mount

Fig 4.0 iPhone 360 Degree Camera Mount

Another idea was to position the camera set up in a high location, for example the top of a building in the centre of a town and again set it to record one rotation of the town centre at it’s busiest time of day showing the shoppers rapidly going about their shopping. You’d have to angle the camera on the mount to point downwards making sure not to include at the bottom of the video the camera mounts edge and the roof of the building. Mounting high on a pole might overcome this but there may be some movement in the wind.

The 1 Hour Video Version

Having discussed this project idea with Jason he suggested that I consider videoing for an hour instead of using time lapse. The resultant video could then be uploaded into After Effects and using Time Remapping condense the videos length down to a few minutes.

Fig 5.0 Flip Ultra HD Camera on 360 Degree Mount

Fig 5.0 Flip Ultra HD Camera on 360 Degree Mount

Using this method the resultant video would be smoother, much less jerky than using time lapse. This is due to way that After Effects handles the frame rate or Layers, rather than dropping frames from the video it actually changes the time of the frames playback. In time lapse you are missing frames by only recording for example 1 frame every 5 seconds, but using time remapping all the frames are still there but the time that they playback has been changed, either speeded up or slowed down.

Taking this idea on board I immediately thought of using my Flip Camera combined with the Joby Gorillapod to video the sequence see Fig 5.0.

Testing using the Flip Ultra HD

26 minutes of video equivalent to almost 180 degrees rotation (before falling off the tripod) which I then re-mapped down to 2 minutes. Following the test I thought about alternative ways of supporting the mount on the tripod, which was as simple as just bolting a CD onto the tripod to use as a platform for the mount.


Future Cinema – Links to Related Blog Entries

  1. Future Cinema – Project Conclusion
  2. Future Cinema – Sound Effects
  3. Future Cinema – Digital Cinema
  4. Future Cinema – 5.1 Surround Sound
  5. Future Cinema – Binaural Sound – Digital Sound Recording
  6. Future Cinema – 360 Degree Camera Mount
  7. Future Cinema – Learning Agreement (Updated)
  8. Future Cinema – Audio / Film Script 1st Draft
  9. Future Cinema – Binaural Sound Recording
  10. Future Cinema – The Film Pitch
  11. Future Cinema – does it have one?