Earlier this month, Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan from Horizon Productions unboxed the first YI Halo “in the wild” (meaning, not used for Google initiatives).
Since they also own the GoPro Odyssey as one of the few early Google Jump creators, the Jasons–as they’re affectionately known–compared the two Jump cameras’ features and shared their insight on the Jump system with Immersive Shooter.
Here’s what they had to say.
You’ve had the YI Halo for…around 3 weeks? What are your initial thoughts?
It’s fantastic! You can tell [YI] worked with the Jump team directly to Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. in all the experiences and pain points with the Odyssey and make improvements across the board that make a huge difference out in the field.
Even the little things, like adding The adjustable sensitivity settings of microphones. Levels are set (and changed as necessary) to best capture the vocals... More to the rig. Before, we always had to make sure you had one with you and we were constantly asking around for who had the level.
What were some of the most significant improvements in this iteration of the Jump camera?
The upward facing camera. It was always a big hassle to shoot anything above the Odyssey, especially when you’re doing sports stuff or live events. We would be shooting on the goal line after a touchdown right under the posts and the ball would fall right next to the camera, which would have been a great shot if we had an up camera.
We didn’t understand how much we were missing that up camera. But now, it’s so nice not to have that gap.
Plus, with no up camera (or down camera), it was pointless to try things like flying the Odyssey on a drone. We have access to a custom drone, so we’re looking forward to trying that out.
We also recently got access to a blimp, so one way or another, we will get that thing in the air!
What types of projects have you been able to Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. the Halo out on so far?
So far we’ve shot at a Notre Dame vs UNC football game and we just did a hot air balloon show to Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. advantage of the up camera. We’ve also done a number of internal test.
What else stood out to you, by comparison?
The Halo has a nice LCD screen that controls the 17 cameras, whereas the Odyssey was controlled by the regular screen of one of the GoPros. That LCD screen is like a master user interface for the camera, to control all the cameras, the white balance, frame rate, The number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More, everything.
You can also live monitor each of the individual cameras with the Halo app.
The battery and weight in general is also a big improvement. It’s very common for us to both be on a shoot with the Odyssey, with one of us carrying the camera and tripod and the other carrying the battery. Now, it can be a one-person job.
Just recently, we got a really neat shot at the Notre Dame game where we were practically in the coin flip at the beginning of the game, and that was only possible with this extra mobility. We were already out on the field, and we were able to run up and get that shot.
We also don’t have issues with overheating like we did the Odyssey. For anyone who ever experimented with the Odyssey, the steel A part of a composite, usually intended as a background, though here it refers to a duplicate version of the main shot w... More on the bottom made the camera very heavy and would also get very hot when you’d been shooting a long time. You’d have to literally Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. the top off the camera to let some heat out, and even still it shut down on us more than once. So far, that’s been eliminated with the Halo, and we’ve been letting it run a long time.
Being able to control the camera remotely was also nice, even though we’re usually hiding under the camera. When we do end up hiding, it means we don’t have to record anything extra of us running away, which is especially nice when you realize that one hour of footage on this camera is ½ terabyte of data.
Plus, the camera is just gorgeous. YI’s engineers did an incredible job and really took care of a lot of our pain points.
Now that we have both, it’s hard to imagine taking the Odyssey out in the field unless we need two cameras.
How did you get hooked up with the Odyssey in the first place?
We were initially trying to shoot with multi-camera GoPro rigs, but the cameras weren’t fully synced and then you had to stitch everything, which was a huge pain. Plus, we wanted to be shooting in stereo. So, we made it our goal to get the Odyssey.
We applied the normal way but never heard anything back like everyone else we knew. After constant searching for a connection, we found someone who had posted a test clip on social media. We sent them some questions and they connected us with the person who could provide the answers. We built a website specifically around all of our work to send them and we got invited to New York to meet the Jump team in July of 2016. It was the two of us and then folks like Nat Geo, and CNN. The Jump team said ‘Alright, we want you guys to be able to get the camera’, so that’s how we became one of the first ones on the East Coast and the only one in the southeast to have the Odyssey.
What do you think made Horizon a good candidate for the Odyssey, and now, the Halo?
We’ve got a lot of existing relationships since we’ve been around for so long. We’re preferred vendors on the corporate side of things with companies like IBM and Lenovo, we’ve won Emmys for our documentary work, and we’ve got the consumer entertainment side covered. Some of our early 360° work was around sports, we captured Frank Beamer’s last game with Virginia Tech, worked with Duke and UNC, and I think having all that variety helped.
A lot of the people who got these cameras are producing content for audiences that are already looking for immersive content, whereas we were also dealing with people who aren’t usually familiar with the technology, so we have to think about different things than they might. For example, those of us in the industry have a certain level of forgiveness when it comes to The number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More and frame rates that less experienced viewers don’t tend to have. We were focused on extremely high quality production value and delivery and working in areas like education and training.
How do you Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. advantage of the Halo’s high The number of pixels in an image, typically presented as a ratio of the total pixels on x axis to the total pixels on th... More with today’s headset and bandwidth limitations?
Even with the Odyssey, we could get 8K by 8K footage, and we couldn’t even use 4K by 4K on the devices. So, we actually worked with Epic Games, which is right down the street from us, to develop a method to use high-resolution stereo through the Unreal Engine. With that relationship, we worked directly with the guys in charge of Android and Media Framework to get best-in-class delivery, and we go even further by cropping out unnecessary pixels at the top and bottom and filling that in within the game engine
Today’s devices are limited to 4K at 60fps, so that’s the best you can really push to these devices. Where you use those pixels counts. So, what we do is create still plates in certain areas, and you don’t pay for those still plates [in your total pixel count], and we use full motion videos where they matter. And, we’re getting pretty good results by doing that.
How are people most often consuming the content you create?
Everything we do now is for Rift, Vive or Gear VR. We try to keep clients away from Cardboard because it’s just not a good enough experience for their content.
Oculus Go is going to be a game changer for us, because it’s a self-contained device. It’ll have better optics overall, with a similar frame rate and pixel density as the high-end options, and it’s only $200.
That was the highlight of OC4 for us, spending time talking directly to [Oculus CTO John] Carmack and asking questions about the headset, making sure we would be able to still sideload our applications. With our corporate work, we’re pinched for time and often need to make things available for devices almost immediately, and to fully control the experience. That seems like it’ll be a great option with the Go.
Why did Horizon get into VR in the first place?
Unlike a lot of players in the market, we’re not a VR startup. We’re a production company that’s been around for 35 years with lots of existing client relationships. We look at VR as just another delivery method for us that we could Individual instance of a shot; a take = each time the camera is started and stopped. into meetings with existing clients like Lenovo and IBM. Once we illustrated [VR’s] potential to the team here, it took off pretty quickly.
It wasn’t like we started VR production from nothing, it was just adding another service. And we did that without making any new hires specific to VR. We already had all the skills in-house. We do a ton of 3D, motion, and interactive work and we were already using the game engines to build things like interactive product demos. There are 20 of us here, but we don’t have any junior level folks. All of us here have been doing what we do for a very long time.
What was it like when you first got to move up from multi-camera GoPro rigs to the Odyssey?
It’s a night and day difference, worrying about stitching versus not worrying about it. There are still companies out there making money stitching their own footage, but not having to do that on our own means we don’t have to charge as much because we aren’t spending weeks or months stitching footage. And, all that stitching also leaves you less time for story development, shooting and post production, so it limits your creativity.
Also, we have always overshot and edited down, just to make sure we have the best content. But [with 360 video], we’d often have to choose between the practicality of editing down footage before stitching versus doing it after we stitched so we’d really know what we had. When you’re paying for every stitch in time or money, you don’t want to have to stitch everything you’ve captured just for a 3-4 minute piece. With Jump, we don’t have to worry about that. That also helps us turn things around very quickly. The Jump process turned months into days, and–a lot of times–hours.
Like, we just did a 1.5-hour timelapse of a sunrise shot for project. We never would have done that if we had to stitch it ourselves for only 12 usable seconds!
What does stitching cost with the Halo?
Right now it’s free to Jump creators, but it won’t be forever.
I guess just to give a shout out to the Jump team. They’ve been so helpful. They’re constantly innovating.
We’re always a little surprised when we see an email from them every month or so with new features for the camera or assembler like generating depth maps, exporting a monoscopic master, or local stitching. They’re constantly advancing what the algorithm and Jump Manager can do.
We recently went up to Seattle to give a presentation to them about using their technology out in the field. It sounds like they’ve even got a lot more in store for the future. It’s just an honor to be a part of it all.