Experiments with 360° Live Streaming.

ricoh-theta-s-1Last night, long past my sensible bedtime, I found myself chatting to a chap in Canada who was broadcasting his lounge in 360°, on hugvr.com. Hugvr is still in Beta, but is a site for live streaming 360° video. I’ve taken to checking it out on my way to bed, as a large proportion of people playing with it are in the States.

For this chap, it is his job – he has started a company producing and consulting in VR for sales, education and entertainment; I’d come across him chilling and playing with kit, but when he knew I had the same camera as the one he was using tonight, he was interested in my opinions on quality. Then when he found I was an amateur musician, he really got excited, and got his guitar out, and we spent time discussing how cool live streamed 360° could be for virtual house concerts.

I logged off, agreeing to keep in touch, and made for bed, but my mind was racing. So I returned to the computer to set up my own test of the live-stream 360° software. Why do I only get the urge to do this sort of thing in the middle of the night? Playing music, song-writing, programming, experimenting with kit – it always seems I only get truly creative after midnight.

Anyway, it was easier to set up than I thought, and the quality was fairly good. The picture was what I would expect from the Theta S, which is – after all – HD, but spread over the whole 360°, so what you are viewing at any one time is about the equivalent of a 1990’s webcam. It looks good in a window, but less so when full-screen; but I believe this is forgivable for an early adopter, and is only going to improve with the next generation of 4K cameras. Sound was actually quite decent, which surprised me as other folk’s tests sometimes sounded quite echoed and cavernous- I suspect that might be a factor of bandwidth, rather than the kit’s quality. In any case, I confirmed the broadcast software was not restricted to my camera’s microphone, so I could take a feed from anything – like my Zoom H6.

The test was conducted properly – i.e. broadcasting from one computer, and viewing from another, or from my phone; so going out to the server and back again, not just broadcasting locally on my network.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. I could quite imagine sitting 3-6 people in a circle with the Theta S in the middle, and broadcasting a watchable (and listenable) house circle that some folk might be interested to watch. Certainly worth trying some time in the near future.

And so having only got to bed at just past 4am, I slept through to 8am, then – after a light breakfast and a check of the web – went back to bed until 2pm! Was shocked when I saw the clock, but not completely surprised.

One Comment

  1. chris
    April 10, 2016

    One question remains is the economic viability of sites like HugVR, While in Beta, it is free; will it become a paid service when it goes live, or are they planning to survive by advertising?

    This may become moot. Youtube already supports 360° videos, and live streaming. It can’t be long before they support live streaming of 360° content.

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