Monday 31 January 2011

The most advanced 360 degree video in the world

An amazing innovation
Several cameras are fitted under a helicopter, recording high quality video in every direction.

They capture the view as the chopper swoops into ravines, skims along river beds and arches over mountain peaks. The serenity of wilderness lakes and the drama of ancient glaciers are burnt to hard drive in astonishing detail, from a perspective few people will enjoy for themselves.

(Btw, I know data isn't really 'burnt' to hard drive!)

The real innovation, however, is in harnessing the latest computer processing power to knit millions of frames of video together. The result is the ability to create a seamless view - up and down, side to side and forward and back.

The pilots could simply have posted a video of the view looking forwards from the cockpit as the helicopter navigated this stunning landscape. But instead this lets you relive the experience... if you had been in the cockpit.

As if you had been there, looking around as they flew.

Try it for yourself!

Click 'play', view full screen and then click and hold the screen. If you move to the left it is as if your head is turning to the left. Look down as you soar over the jagged mountain ridge! Look back as you speed over cobalt blue cracks in the glacier.

Why do I like this?
Possibly because it combines many of my favourite things, including aviation (as you now know, from a recent post!), mountains, glaciers, forests, rivers, photography - well, video - and the innovative use of cutting edge technology.

However, I think the lesson about innovation is not that you always need to invent new things - but that you can seek to use others' inventions creatively.

What could 360 degree video do for your fundraising or marketing?
You cannot let (most) supporters wander round a lab, visit an agriculture project in the Andes, walk through a deprived inner city estate or dive on an endangered reef.

Photos simply cannot impress upon a donor what "the volcano has destroyed this town" means. I tried to capture a sense of it when I had the privilege of visiting Goma one week after the 2002 eruption to witness emergency relief by local NGOs ... but mere images can't convey the devastation...

I can think of a few charities that are already pushing in this direction. Take charity:water ('give one person clean water for $20'), for example, which broke new ground when it tweeted links to live videos of bore holes breaking into aquifers, bringing water to a village for the first time. Or PDSA, which created a virtual tour of an animal hospital to show what a donor's money could buy.

But photos - and even someone else's videos - are just so two-dimensional.

The donor is not there.

At last the technology is advancing, increasingly rapidly, to make it possible to put them at the centre of your work.

How do you approach innovation? And how do you harness other people's innovation, such as this?

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