Ricoh’s plug-ins for its Theta V 360 camera make it possible to customize workflows to meet that shooter’s needs. Back up to the cloud, live stream to YouTube, automate subtitles and blur faces, the Ricoh Theta Plug-in evolution is just beginning.
Many a reader of Immersive Shooter has likely configured a WordPress blog, the platform that boasts powering nearly a third¹ of all websites.
One of the features of what was once a humble blogging platform that distinguishes it from other Content Management Systems, is the cornucopia of plug-ins made by third parties. Over 55,000 are available from the official repository, not counting the plethora of commercial variants.
Plug-ins allow all manner of customisations for site owners, with endless options to suit every need and then some. Unconvinced by what’s available, be my guest and make one yourself. That’s the infinite beauty of the platform which carries the open web at it’s heart.
Now imagine the same for the camera, and specifically for the 360 shooter. Welcome to the Ricoh Theta Plug-in evolution.
Ricoh’s plug-in store for 360 photos and video
Since launching the first generation Theta in 2013 Ricoh has played a pivotal part in democratising 360 photography.
The Plug-in Store now allows Theta V owners to further enhance their 360 video and photography with official and third-party made camera plug-ins.
These plug-in are installed to the camera, which runs a version of on-board Android. The plug-ins are available via the official Store and at launch Ricoh have announced three plug-ins themselves and five from third-party developers.
Official plug-ins allow File Cloud Upload (to Google Photos), Wireless Live Streaming (YouTube, Facebook), and Automatic Face Blurring.
Third party plug-ins are listed as Device WebAPI Plug-in, a MESH Plug-in, EVRYPLACE Sync, HoloBuilder 360 SiteStream, and Fita².
Accelerate your Theta V 360º video workflow
Running a version of Android in the Theta V camera with on board WiFi, Bluetooth, and in camera stitching by default, a plug-in powered Theta V is able to operate independently of a mobile device and accelerate your 360 workflow.
A camera plug-in can also be configured and managed by a companion app for the mobile device. This will depend how the developer has created their plug-in and the use case.
That companion app can be an Android or an iOS app. For example, in the case of Fita² [Disclaimer – Ed.] the team at Everywoah are planning to release an iOS app in addition to the Android companion app, to manage connected Google Cloud Storage buckets, authentication, thumbnail previews and more.
Crucially, in-camera plug-in capability enables you to run custom tasks for media processing before having to download media to your desktop or mobile device.
Why download when you can plug in?
Post production of 360 photography and video in particular, even at the consumer level, can be notoriously tedious for the uninitiated and even the seasoned shooter.
Plug-in workflows allow for cloud based editing, sharing, collaboration, and custom routines that can simultaneously save time and enable exciting options to be capitalised on.
Rather than download to a desktop, process and re-upload to the web for publication, a plug-in based routine allows immediate in-camera WiFi uploading or even live streaming to YouTube and or Facebook without the need for additional laptop connectivity.
With the advent of cloud account based NLE editing Platforms, AI services, collaborative editing, the rise of voice search, virtual tour creator services, WebVR exiting beta, and more, there’s a wealth of options available to enhance your 360 video and photography.
Jesse Casman, author of the phenomenal theta360.guide List of Theta plug-ins and apps, and president of Oppkey, a developer relations firm, comments on the features and benefits of Theta V plug-ins:
“RICOH has taken the bold step of making its best-selling THETA 360 degree camera extremely customizable. Developers can change the camera to fit the exact needs of the users. End users can then just download that plug-in to add the functionality they want. It’s pretty incredible. You can get a tool that is specific to the demands of immersive journalism with an understanding of a reporter’s daily workflow built in.”
Theta360.guide has a brand new THETA V Plugin Development Community Guide with documentation for both end-users and developers.
The future of plug-ins for 360 video
Ricoh dub the introduction of camera plug-ins as a “multi-purpose spherical platform” that offers a favourable development environment to expand the options for 360 video.
The options for future plug-ins that process in-camera or via cloud services to suit your workflow is an enticing temptation.
Need to batch nadir patch, horizon level, or transcribe and subtitle your narrated video at a flick of a button or a drop of a voice command?
Can spatial audio processing benefit from a plug-in approach or does 360 video demand human filtering and desktop editing from the get go?
Are you keen for easier post processing or is your focus on optics, high powered cameras and pursuing higher resolution hardware?
What’s your take on the possiblities of plug-ins and how might your 360video evolve with plug-ins for your workflow?
¹ W3Techs – World Wide Web Technology Surveys