Aust Rowers Using VR Cameras for Full View

Posted on August 31 2016

31 AUG 2016
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A Victorian rowing coach is one of an increasing number of Australians filming their own 360-degree film on low-cost cameras.

Sportspeople in Victoria are using 360-degree cameras to get an edge on the competition as an increasing amount of Australians film their own virtual reality videos.

Virtual reality (VR), also known as immersive multimedia, is taking off around the world thanks to smartphone playback, dedicated headsets and increasing amounts of video.

Low-cost cameras have put the technology in the hands of people like Bill Tait, who heads up the Victorian Institute of Sport's rowing division.

"You can mount the camera on the boat and at one point be looking at what the athlete is doing, and at the same time, swing around and look at the outcome that's happening at the oar's blade," the institute's head rowing coach told AAP.

"It's about opening up the opportunities to look at a number of things that are happening simultaneously and are linked."

But the application goes well beyond analysing sport performance.

After using it at a few family events, Evan Kourambas decided to take his dual-lens camera on his drive to work for a couple of days.

"When we took it out we just said 'Wow, this is amazing'," said the managing director of adventure tech company Kaiser Baas.

"You can see forward like all dash cams, but if something happens you can swipe your finger on your phone and pan around."

While the dual-lens cameras still lack the G-sensors and power cords that dash cams have, Mr Kourambas lauds the ability of 360-degree film to switch control from the filmer to the viewer.

"Traditionally, when your mum was taking baby videos, the camera user determined what you saw on the screen," he said.

"With this, you can look down to the ground, you can look up into space.

"You can look anywhere you want."

VR until recently required numerous cameras and expensive software capable of making the video coherent.

That placed it out of reach of all but large companies such as the Olympics broadcaster and the New York Times.

However, with prices of dual-lens cameras now below $500 and Facebook and YouTube capable of sharing the videos, the technology has reached the masses.

A Melbourne man taking advantage of this is Grant Stevenson, who uses the camera to film days out with his family.

He says 360-degree cameras open up a new world of filming.

The cameras are all about the experience "and allowing you to relive those experiences over and over again," he says.

"(My camera) is compact and easy to use and sharing my footage on Facebook and YouTube is simple and straightforward.

But before you get too excited and hit record, check your hard disk space.

A six-minute rowing race filmed in full HD can take up a gigabyte, Mr Tait said.

"But we can get so much out of it, in terms of the sounds and being able to look at other crews.

"There's a huge benefit."

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