Beatboxing in 360 VR. Whatever next?

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I may be showing my age, but when I first started off as a tech journalist back in the early 1990s, TVs were virtually square, weighed a ton, and most people were listening to grunge music coming out of Seattle.

Nearly 30 years later, everyone has a super light flat widescreen TV and early adopters (admittedly mostly gamers at the moment) are getting into virtual reality headsets for an even more immersive experience. Thankfully the music has changed a fair bit too!

For the last few weeks I’ve been working with Kodak, testing out its little VR camera, the Kodak PixPro 4K VR360 and looking for different types of content to shoot in 360 to do it justice.

Obviously the first things that spring to mind are action videos which is why we went to Go Ape to film as well as a skateboard park in Tottenham.

Both were great in showing off the immersive experience of 360 filming, although shooting with a camera strapped to your head or holding it as you negotiate a zip wire (especially if you a broken hand like my son did at the time) are never easy. Thankfully we didn’t break the camera though!

Live music in VR

However, what interests me are alternative uses for VR and 360 outside of the obvious genres. For example, YouTube now has its own virtual reality channel where you can check out thousands of the latest 360 videos in different categories.

These include a live MTV version of Ed Sheeran singing Shape of You at the 2017 VMAs and, for those of a certain age, Duran Duran’s performing Hungry Like The Wolf filmed to commemorate this year’s Duran Duran Appreciation Day (#DDAD17) – who knew?

In both you can choose to see a close up of the performers on stage or pan round and check out the audiences just as you would do if you were there in real life (there is of course a considerable difference in age between the two audiences!)

For our 360 video, filmed with the Kodak PixPro,  we chose to hire the talents of our very own wolf: Frankie Rowley-Walker, a.k.a Wolfie.

In the video below he shows off his beatboxing skills in full VR 360 (you can check out his own music channel here //

And while the audience is a little smaller than for Ed Sheeran and Duran Duran (just two cameramen and a stray dog), the experience is nevertheless very immersive.

Sometimes I miss the early 1990s. But I must admit when it comes to the size of the TVs and the music, I much prefer 2017!

You can see Frankie performing in our YouTube video below:

And if you want the full 360 experience with footage taken entirely from the Kodak PixPro VR360 then go here:

You can see all of the videos shot with the Kodak PixPro camera here.


Experiencing London in virtual reality with the Kodak PixPro 4K VR360

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For the last few weeks my son Archie and I have been busy filming in and around London for a series of YouTube videos.

You see, we’ve partnered with Kodak on two of my tech blogs, and to produce four themed videos designed to showcase what their latest VR camera, the Kodak 4K VR360 can do.

Despite the weather not always being  that great, it’s been good fun so far, acting like a tourist and filming the likes of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

Yesterday we were in a nearby wood filming the leaves falling from the trees and dogs sniffing around the camera while next weekend sees us travelling to the newly opened Go Ape adventure park at Alexandra Palace to bring you VR footage from the high ropes.

You can see our first ‘taster’ video below with another, London’s Top 10 VR landmarks, due later this week.

While this first one isn’t filmed completely in VR, look out for future videos in the series for which you will need your Google Cardboard type headsets or Oculus Rift to enjoy fully.

In the eyes of an animal: experiencing VR like never before (and looking stupid in the process)


Oh how ridiculous do I look with this giant piece of foliage on my head?

Talking of animals (see post here about Buster the Boxer of John Lewis fame), on Wednesday night I experienced what it must be like to be one of four different animals: a mosquito, dragon fly, frog and and an owl.

It was one of many cool exhibits at the Wired Audi Awards at Victoria House in London’s Bloomsbury Square. So cool in fact that it actually won best Innovation in Experience Design at the awards.

Now of course I’ve put a headset on and experienced VR in the past, but trust me this isn’t like any other VR I’ve ever experienced.

Developed by Marshmallow Laser Feast for a festival in Cumbria’s Grizedale Forest (they must be cool, check out their website), it’s like being on a bad trip or something out of a Cronenberg movie.

Called In The Eyes of an Animal and filmed in 360 degrees using drones of course, the footage takes you on a journey from – what the developer’s imagine, based on scientific understanding – each animal’s point of view.

To make things a tad more realistic than watching the YouTube video below you have to wear a large rounded piece of foliage on your head and strap a backpack to you in order to simulate, say, the buzzing of a dragon fly as it flies around the forest.

At the end of each ‘chapter’ the animal is eaten (think ‘there was an old lady who swallowed a fly’) and it’s on to the next animal until you end up with one of nature’s finest predators, the owl.

I really have no idea how realistic it is but it looks and feels amazing and if I’d watched it in a field in Grizedale Forest during a festival I’d probably think I’d just eaten some rather exotic looking mushrooms.