Jun 23, 2016

Sailing in 360 degrees


In the online video scene the 360 video is something that has definitely been a hot topic during the last year or so, especially as Youtube and Facebook launched support for 360 videos last year. 360 stands for 360 degrees or spherical video where viewer can freely decide the direction that he or she wants to see. This brings of course a completely new world both for a video-maker and for those who are watching the video.

In one of our first sailing trips of the season, I had a chance to finally test out the Ricoh Theta S in action. The filming is very straight-forward as there are not too many manual options available. Also post-production is rather quick as Ricoh Theta's application stitches automatically the two images of the super wide angle lenses into one file, which can then be edited with a normal editing software such as Final Cut Pro.

So here it is: our first 360 video. Have a look around by clicking and dragging with your mouse (if using a computer) or by moving your smartphone or tablet around and/or use your finger to change the viewpoint.


Previously filming 360 video required some expensive gear such as Nokia Ozo (about $60 000) or for example a rig for multiple GoPro cameras. Also post-production is complicated in these multicam setups as the 360 video has to be stitched from multiple videos which have to be in sync. 

Recently we have seen a rise of inexpensive 'consumer level' 360 cameras which have two very wide angle cameras shooting in opposite directions. Ricoh Theta S was one of the firsts and the recently Samsung and LG have launched their 360 cameras. Unfortunately, the Samsung's camera work currently only with their newer smartphones and with PC based editing software. It's a pity as the camera has better video resolution than its rivals.


Verdict

I was a bit disappointed about the video quality of Ricoh Theta S as the video is soft and blurry. Despite the camera is shooting Full HD resolution the actual video resolution is much lower as the image is spread over 360 degrees. Thus, the true video quality is not even close to HD, more like a reminscent of the Youtube quality ten years ago. Thus, Ricoh Theta's 360 video looks best when watched on a small smartphone screen, but the resolution is not enough for larger screens or for VR classes. 

It is also possible to take 360 photos with Ricoh Theta S and this feature become recently much more interesting as Facebook started to support 360 photos on their platform earlier this month. Furthermore, the image resolution of still photos is greater to videos so the photos have better quality and they are sharper. Thus, I am especially interested about this 360 photo feature.
/Antti



Jun 9, 2016

A long-weekend trip to Archipelago Sea

We cast off around 8 pm on Thursday evening (the 2nd of June) for the long-weekend sailing trip in the archipelago. The evening was amazingly warm for early summer but also flat calm so we motored the short ten nautical miles distance to Airisto Marina.



This is our first membership year in the Finnish Cruising Association Merikarhut - Sjöbjörnarna and on this trip we wanted to explore at least some of the club's skerry harbours in the southern Archipelago Sea of Finland. Thus, we ended up spending the second night of the trip in the beautiful Kifskär, where the lagoon was perfectly sheltered even in strong northerly wind. Merikarhut has an extensive network of almost thirty harbours, many of which are located in some of the best places in the Archipelago Sea. The harbours are private so they are only accessible to members. Therefore, our first landing in Kifskär was the most expensive one and the second harbour was already twice as cheap as the first one and so on. Thus, the more you visit these harbours, the better return on investment you get! 


On Saturday we sailed first to Ådskär (also a club harbour of Merikarhut) located in the outer Hitis archipelago. Arrival was hair-raising as the route passes multiple rocks both over and under the water level. However, the route is clearly described in the handbook and also the water was so clear, that one could easily spot the underwater rocks. 



A view over to Bengtskär lighthouse

After touring the small island and taking a lunchbreak, we continued to nearby Örö island for the night. Örö was opened to public last year, and I also blogged about our first visit there a year ago. The new feature for this season is the great new sauna building with an easy access for cooling bath in the Baltic Sea. 



The Sunday offered pretty much everything that one can come up with: a thunderstorm with a hail shower, perfect winds, variable winds, heavy headwind, cold and warm. We decided to spend the last night of the trip in our familiar boating club harbour in Heisala