The August 21st, 2017 solar eclipse as seen from Elora, Ontario, Canada. All taken with the P610 superzoom Nikon camera. The welder’s lens I was using as a dimmer fell and broke, so the eclipse got filmed through a shard. I think it came out better that way.
The problem with this process is that it’s quite clunky. You have to upload each photo to the site, then set it to Little Planet, then, if you want to keep photo editing, screen grab it and bring it back down to the desktop. If I’m trying to make a stop motion film out of over 300 photos, making Little Planets this way isn’t going to scale.
The solution was to find a way to create similar appearance in Adobe Photoshop and then batch process all the photos into a little planet format. Instructables has a just such a tutorial. The long and the short of the process is: stretch the photos into a square, flip them and the use a polar coordinates distortion tool to ‘wrap’ the square photo around the centre of the image. The end result isn’t quite as nuanced as Ricoh’s online little planet geometry, which is specifically designed for the details of the Theta camera. It’d be nice if Ricoh shared that geometry so people could duplicate the process in other software.
Lots of batch processed little planets!
I recorded those Instructable actions using the Photoshop script recording tool and then ran the batch ran the script on 384 photos auto-taken on a recent motorcycle ride (the 360 camera is attached to the windscreen). The end result was 384 modified photos outputted to another directory. I then took the photos and dropped them into Adobe Premier Pro, where I set the intro and outro pictures to slightly longer times and the main body to 0.02 seconds per photo, creating the stop motion video effect.
I threw in the intro to Rush’s Red Barchetta as some dystopian future background music (we’re in the middle of social distancing due to COVID19). I fear it’s just a matter of time until travel itself becomes illegal, as it is in the song.
Here is the end result, a 26 second video containing over 380 individual photos batch processed in Photoshop and then edited into a short stop motion video:
The original footage was shrunk from 5376 x 5376 pixels (the ThetaV takes 5376 pixel wide panoramas and I made them square, remember?) to 1000×1000 pixels. My logic there was a 1080p video is 1920×1080 pixels, so 1000×1000 pixels is almost 1080 wide.
These are some video screen grabs from the long way home commute from work last week. Windy and cool, but still up near ten degrees Celsius with bright, winter sunshine. The roads were relatively sand and salt free thanks to days of rain and floods.
All the screen grabs with various modifications can be found in this album.
If you’re looking for a motorcycle friendly camera, the Theta 360 has push button controls that are easy to use (most others have finicky wireless connections through a smartphone). You don’t have to aim it or focus it, it just grabs everything in an instant. The screen grabs on here are from the 1080 video the Theta made while attached to the rear view mirror.
Following that adage I looked for a phone with a good camera this time around. The OnePlus5 has an excellent camera as far as hardware goes, but the software still has some catching up to do. Fortunately OnePlus seem committed to regular updates.
Walking home on Dec 23rd, one of the darkest days of the year, I took a post-sunset shot of the Grand River thinking it wouldn’t come out at all. Not too bad for a very low light shot. Similarly the multi-shot night time hockey gif taken on winter solstice in full darkness.
The photo of my lovely wife and her colleagues singing was also taken in a dark room. It was post processed in Paper Artist, my favourite on-phone photo editing app.
A wide range of imaging from the summer of 2020 into the autumn stretches out beneath you. On-bike photos usually taken with a Ricoh ThetaV firing automatically and attached to the bike with a tripod. Close-up/macros usually done with a Canon T6i DSLR with a macro lens. Drone shots taken with a DJI Phantom4Pro drone. Other shots taken with a OnePlus5 smartphone when I had no other choice (the best camera is the one you have with you). Most are touched up in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom depending on where I am and how much time I’ve go for post processing. Some of them are very post processing heavy verging on digital illustration rather than photography.
The stop motion video was hundreds of photos taken with the 360 camera on bike and then composited into a stop-motion film in Premier Pro. It’s a tricky process you can learn more about here if curious. The SMART Adventures videos are using a waterproof/shockproof action camera from Ricoh.