Director’s Brief: 360-Degree Cameras in the Library

I am excited to share this director’s brief with everyone. I am working on setting up a library tour in my own library using this 360-degree video camera technology, so this director’s brief will be valuable in explaining the technology to other library staff.

360-degree video cameras allow for videos to be recorded in full 360-degree range, not to be confused with fish eye cameras that distort the picture. This is very similar to something like Google Street view but as a video. The interesting thing about this technology is that it works well when paired with other technologies such as virtual reality.

I recommend checking out a playlist I created on YouTube showcasing some of the 360-degree videos that I found particularly interesting before looking at the director’s brief. In order for these videos to be seen properly in 360-degree they need to be opened in either Google Chrome or an Android device with gyro sensors (many phones have them now). While Google and YouTube are working to get these videos working on iOS they do not work with those devices yet.

Director’s Brief- 360 degree cameras by Ryan Tucci



16 thoughts on “Director’s Brief: 360-Degree Cameras in the Library”

  1. This is amazing! Thank you for sharing. I would love to buy this camera for my library. Your Brief was very inspirational.

    From a technological stand point:

    1) How much is the software that you need to stitch the videos together?

    2) Which system do you recommend using since you are doing it for your library?

    3) Do you know how much a 360 degree camera costs if you buy it?

    4) How do you plan to pull it all together if you make a video?

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Hello @krislib!

    Your questions are great! Many of them are concerns that I too had and requires a bit of research. I’ll share some of my experiences with you.

    1) How much is the software that you need to stitch the videos together?
    It is my understanding that many cameras now stitch the video together automatically. I made sure to find a camera that included this feature (I believe many of them now do this) . The video output is mp4 in most cases, which is a pretty standard file format. We recently purchased the Ricoh Theta S for our library. We haven’t received it yet but I was hoping to have it in time to produce a short video for the Director’s Brief, maybe I’ll get a chance for the Virtual Symposium?!?!

    Most cameras come with free software for working with your 360 videos. Also, many have mobile apps for use with the camera. I don’t think that the software is too sophisticated for editing the videos however.

    2) Which system do you recommend using since you are doing it for your library?
    We are in the midst of purchasing a few different emerging technologies so our budget is kind of thin right now. So we weighed a few options and ended up going with the Ricoh Theta (model S).

    The two short listed 360-degree cameras (for us) were:
    Ricoh Theta S:
    Pros: Small, lightweight, available through a reliable distributor (Amazon), one of the more affordable 360-cameras on the market.
    Cons: Video quality is not the highest, 25 minute max recording time, concerns that the camera can overheat with longer recording sessions (sometimes shutting down the system).

    Pros: Canadian made! higher quality camera, good customer support
    Cons: Higher cost, not available until December 15th

    While we may look at the BublCam in the future we decided to go with the Ricoh Theta S due to the lower cost. If people are interested in the camera and it becomes popular, we will look at the BublCam in the future. We decided to get the technology out to the user and see how they use it! BublCam is the superior product (in my opinion) but is also about double the cost.

    3) Do you know how much a 360 degree camera costs if you buy it?
    Costs vary between cameras. I think that lower end cameras will cost around $349.95 while more sophisticated/higher quality cameras will cost around $799.00.

    4) How do you plan to pull it all together if you make a video?
    We have been considering doing YouTube video tours for awhile now. When I saw the 360 camera I thought it would be a fun way to promote our libraries commitment to innovation and exploration. Students are very interested in virtual reality and these videos could be both a promotional tool for the library and the technology itself (which will be available for loan by faculty and students).

    Carleton University is getting ready to celebrate its 75th anniversary and I proposed this to my supervisor as a project for the library in conjunction with this anniversary. She seemed pretty interested and once we get the camera in I want to start testing it to see how it works, post production, limitations, audio quality, etc. From there I will put together a more full proposal for the camera.

    The technology is still relatively new so researching things like audio quality, etc. is quite difficult.

    My biggest concern is compatibility at the moment. While this works great on Google based products it seems that Apple based systems may be limited (at this time). Hopefully soon it will be compatible with all manufacturers. I feel very strongly that 360 video will catch on and be used more often (this should get developers working on it for all platforms).

    I hope this answers some of your questions. Sorry for the long rant-like reply.


    Additional cool ‘stuff’:
    Ricoh Theta is working with Google to allow users to upload their own street views:

    • @ryantucci
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write this all out.

      I really want to do this at my library, so I was wondering if I may be able to pick your brain later as you go forward with this project!

      Is there a way I can contact you after the course is over? If you do not mind I would like to keep contact. Let me know it that is cool. I will message you in a personal message. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Whoa, @ryantucci, impressive: I was blown away watching the 360ยบ video of the Blue Angels. It reminded me of one of my favorite documentaries, Winged Migration โ€” and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be grand to record flying birds with 360ยบ cameras?”

    Your proposal illustrates examples both useful and inspiring for 360ยบ videography: library remodels and student use for theatric performances. I know that 360ยบ camera tech is in the early stages, but wouldn’t it be cool once they got smaller? It’d be amazing for scientific and medical research/education, such as geology, inaccessible caves, surgery, etc.

  4. Thanks @sairuh! That is the kind of reaction that I love to see! That was my experience when I saw it for the first time too.

    Perhaps something like this but in 360?

    I’m going to have to check out that documentary!

    I think you are right, once the technology gets smaller it opens up a lot of fun possibilities but maybe some additional security concerns too. I was really excited when I first came across this, which was born out of a conversation I had with the acting Director of the Discovery Centre (our maker area in the library).

    I also think this technology works well with other emerging technology: drones (exploring places not safe for people), virtual reality, etc.

      • Way cool! Rural and urban eagle flying โ€” I enjoy watching how the eagle moves its head around while flying, glancing around at the sky and earth-globe.

    • Yes, 360ยบ would be awesome for emergency/rescue operations!

      I love that eagle video. I wonder if it was something like a GoPro mounted on the bird? Since they’re such light animals, I often wonder how bulky and how much the cameras weigh. (Also, they must be tame, or have a brave human attach the device. ๐Ÿ˜‰ In Winged Migration, much of the videography was done with light manned-aircraft, as the birds (many species, too) had imprinted (raised with) the humans. So the people were often literally part of the flock.

      • Yes, if I’m not mistaken that would be a GoPro they used on the Eagle videos. I was wondering if it would throw off the birds balance in flight as well.

  5. @ryantucci enjoyed reading your brief. My first reaction to a 360 camera is fear. I can’t stop thinking about govt. surveillance, and also The Circle by Dave Eggers. Did you read this book? There is a insidious camera element in it. Once my heart rate slowed down, I could see using the camera for intro-to-library videos or even time-lapse videos to show how busy the library is during the first day of school, finals, etc. I also think it would be fascinating to have a student walk around with one, but the price would have to come down and privacy issues sorted out. Thanks again for introducing this tech. I didn’t know it existed.

    • I’ll have to check out that book! After this class my reading list has grown exponentially!

      Update: Our Ricoh Theta model S arrived at our library yesterday (Friday). I had a chance to play with it briefly and I am working on getting the very brief test footage added to YouTube. If I can get it posted I will add a link here. The audio quality is far superior when you hold the camera in your hand vs standing 5-6 feet away which was to be expected. I’m very surprised with the raw quality of the camera and the audio. Uploading the video to YouTube seems to drop the quality slightly. Overall, first impression is that it is a good product.

      If it can get cataloged quickly I may use it in the Virtual Symposium. I’ve ensured I was added to the hold list so that I can test it in a variety of ways (outdoors, indoors, audio quality, etc).

  6. This is such an amazing tool! I can see students using this on field studies, or bringing new life into library tours as you suggest. Perhaps making a project to tour the town, or sites of tourist or historical value to build community interest in the project.


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