Sometimes 360 videos suck. Two of the reasons why things get technically difficult are:
1. Parallax – things are broken
2. Unwanted rotation – and now you feel sick.
The distances between the entrance pupils of the lenses in the 360 camera array result in non-matching perspectives at the seams. The seams can be positioned so that pixels at a certain depth appear to be continuous, but the distortion has to change to accommodate depth changes. So if the camera is stationary and nothing is crossing between cameras, everything’s great. Otherwise you’re either about to spend a lot of time and effort, or things will end up looking messed up for various reasons.
Moving the camera is dangerous because experiencing a shaky or turny video in a head mounted display can give you a headache or motion sickness. Since the full sphere is captured the video can be rotated in post to lock the perspective, but you’re left with some artifacts.
motion blur – If the camera whip pans, everything gets blurry. Why would you whip pan a 360 camera? In POV sports or any head mounted applications, the camera can quickly get turned around.
color, distortion and exposure differences – Camera lenses and sensors are all slightly different, and allowing the camera to rotate results in just the inconsistencies moving around in a stabilized video.
moving seams – Without a constant automatic depth sensing seam correction, when a shaky video is taken the seam gets pulled around areas of different depths. If that video is stabilized, then the stitch errors still fly around the stationary world.
There few mechanical stabilization options, and like usual no solution is good for everything. Since active gimbals are now everywhere and the parts are easy to find, I decided to make a general stabilized platform that any small camera could be mounted to opposed to building a specific rig around a stabilizer. After a few design revisions it ended up looking like this:
There are two brushless gimbal motors that control the pitch and roll rotation of the platform, there’s also a third motor on top to control the yaw.