It was like Christmas morning at Ballywire Towers when this yoke arrived…

Looks like a snooker ball but it’s one of a new breed of video camera which like a lot of the toys Santa delivers sounds great in principle. A 360° HD video recorder. You’ve heard of a Go Pro? This is aimed at a similar market for action videos. For most the possibility of seeing things in 360 degrees was a concept first observed on Star Trek’s holodeck. However advances in technology have brought the idea closer to a commercial reality. Or to use the tech terms ‘augmented reality’ or ‘virtual reality’.

And there is some amount of money being bet on growth in the sector. A report by US management consultancy Digi-Capital notes there have now been 6 straight quarters of AR/VR investment growth, with a quarter of a billion dollars invested in Q4 2015 alone at nearly 6x the rate of mid-2014. Sure why wouldn’t we try and see if it was a space we could try and muscle in on!

Currently the 360fly is only available in the US at electronics chain Best Buy. However Santy was good and we’ve been trying it out in a real world production environment in Dublin, Ireland. Initially we thought ‘wow it would be great for things like virtual tours of houses for sale or tourist attractions’.

However after a fair bit of ‘fluting’ (Irish term for roadtesting) we finally arrived at a conclusion that you will see later.

The workflow that transformed the media and gave Ballywire it’s unique workflow is the notion of file based recording. This allows for rapid editing and publication on line. Under that workflow you record your piece on a camera smart card drop it onto your desktop, do a quick edit and say publish to youtube.

That’s the approach you’d expect with any recording device but 360 degree workflow is way more challenging in terms of that simple process.

After pressing record at Ballywire HQ – excitement was building about seeing our office in 360 degrees.

Challenge 1

Capturing from the device is not that straight forward.

In theory you download the 360 fly app to your desktop then drag and drop. But wait. You have to be running Apples OSX. No worries we have that box ticked. Except the app keeps crashing. And it doesn’t recognise the camera as a storage device allowing the dragging of the files to the desktop.

Through a series of tutorials and help pages it emerged that you have to effectively livestream the content to your phone to access it once you’ve downloaded their mobile app. Fine did that. Now it’s on the android S6. Still cant see it though.

Have an idea I will use the Android file transfer. FINALLY got it onto the desktop and will upload it to youtube. Great can’t wait to see this 360 degree shot of the office!

Oh right I have to bring it into the desktop app to export a 360 movie. Better do that. Good job there isn’t a client waiting for their virtual tour!

Lesson 2:

Youtube doesn’t recognise 360 footage too quickly and it takes AGES to render it! (Manage client expectation here!)

If you DO want an ACTUAL 360 degree view of the Ballywire office you will need to be reading this in a Google Chrome browser otherwise when you click on the link below you will see this message.

If you ARE watching in Google Chrome have a squint here. Ballywire quiet as church mice(for a change):

While you’re at it you might as well have a squint behind the scenes at the Jamie Meets recording:


The Fly looks lovely. It reckons it shoots at 1500×1500 at 30fps, but the final footage is not comparable to say, an iPhone 6s or Nexus 6, or any of the flagship phones out today. You won’t be getting those high-end production shots you’ve been dreaming about with the 360fly, and the worflow is a nightmare. It’s a first generation product and it shows great promise for the ability to record everything happening around you at once. Nice idea though. Oh and it works underwater!

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