Well. There are benefits, and negatives to my current 360° setup. Unfortunately, right now the negatives far outweigh the benefits, and sadly the only corrections are to start over expensively, or start over somewhat inexpensively.
Since my main goal is to capture underwater 360° footage of vibrantly colored reefs with amazing fish swimming all around the user, and I want the user to truly feel like they are there, I opted for a 7 camera GoPro rig. 1 Cam top, 1 on bottom, and 5 around the sides instead of 4. Supposedly this was to increase the available overlap, and I would be able to successfully stitch underwater video. And this is only partially true..
Problem is, there is something called parallax, and it makes for some very strange artifacts underwater. My rig works perfectly fine for above water applications, I have successfully stitched several 360° videos, but all so far have been on dry land. When viewing stitched videos shot underwater things tend to disappear, then re-appear again, almost magically, due to the parallax effect.
Another problem with my rig is that it is rather fragile. Hit it just the right way, and the plastic frame just cracks. Not really good for action sports. Lose a portion to the depths of the ocean, and that’s a mighty expensive day. Need something simpler, sturdier, and easier to stitch without getting the parallax effect.
One rig that promises to fix all that is the Abyss, from 360Heros. And this rig does look to be the holy grail of GoPro controlled 360° underwater filming, IF it wasn’t priced at almost $6,000!! Granted, underwater photographers routinely spend $4k on housings for their $2k DSLR cameras, so I guess $6k to protect (and sync and control) 6 GoPros worth $3k isn’t that far of a stretch. Still $6k puts it out of my budget for now.
So I have been searching for other options, something else for underwater video that would use my existing GoPro’s. There used to be a rig with cases that were individual but had domes to help minimize parallax from 360Heros, but its no longer available. The other 360 offerings really aren’t waterproof enough to go diving with, and then I came across the Kodak PixPro SP360 4K camera. If you put 2 of them back to back, you get a pretty good 360° video with almost no parallax, there is a dive casing for dual cameras good for 30M.
Resolution would be seriously affected though, as 6 or 7 GoPro cameras provide far more video footage for much higher resolutions than a pair of SP360’s would, which in a 360 video means more details and definition (something I really would like underwater).
But having only 2 cameras to stitch makes it considerably easier as there are far fewer stitch lines and parallax is reduced to basically a single “ring” around the rig.
We’ll see if it’s in the cards for my next dive trip, but I would like to check it out..