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How to build the rig (for novices)?

Thu, 01 Oct 2015 05:29:22 GMT

Hi Jason! Thanks for your great blog. We've been looking to get into amateur 3D video and your blog has been the clearest and most sensible introduction we've found. On your recommendation we're thinking of buying a couple of Xiaomi Yi's to get us started so we can experiment with the basics of stereoscopic shooting. We don't have any experience with 3D printing or laser cutting (or really any kind of fabrication) so we're wondering if you could give us some advice about how to actually get started building a simple rig? We're looking to do narrative-oriented video so we mostly care most about getting good capture in a 180-240 degree forward field (ideally with the ability to shoot indoors and in low light). We probably are going to buy the cameras in phases so we'll start off with 2 and then move up to 4 or 6 if we're happy with the cameras. Your rig design looks like it would make it easy to just add more cameras as we buy them. But maybe it's overkill for just 2 cameras at first? Do you have any thoughts on the simplest way to mount two Yi's to get us started?

Thu, 01 Oct 2015 19:32:46 GMT

Hey gjlondon! Thanks for being the first person ever to post on this forum. If I could, I'd send you balloons. So I started out doing the exact thing you're doing now – I bought two Yis, I took a plank of wood, and I bolted them down next to each other. That's it. Plank and two bolts. The Yis have 1/4" diameter, 20 threads per inch screw holes on the bottom, standard type for tripods. That produced side-by-side videos that I previewed by crossing my eyes, like you do with a MagicEye. Here's an example frame from the good ol' days: Example Later, I found a cheap little wooden box at a store for 50 cents, cut the front off and bolted it to a tripod, so I basically had a shelf I could safely slide my cameras around inside. Really technical stuff. It was a good first step to get used to the Yis, to practice shooting stereo with different interaxial distance (separation between lenses, farther apart = stronger stereo effect), and to learn to sync in post. Some of the problems you learn to deal with start cropping up at this stage – objects too close to camera, ocular dispa rity (lens flare in one eye, for example), sync errors, etc. You also learn how close and how far you can get an interesting 3D effect at various interaxial distances. If you use a viewer like VRPlayer for Android, you can even ‘look around’ a bit in the video (the GearVR has something like 90° FOV, and the Yi shoots 155° HFOV, so it's marginally fun to look around!) With 6 Yis, you can 3D print a 6-cam 2d360 rig off Thingiverse.com – check out 3DHubs.com for a listing of your local 3D printers, or contact the engineering dept of nearby colleges. If you're in a major city, lots of places exist with some variant of the name “Fab Cafe / Maker Cafe / etc”, they're a fun place to nerd out as well. A 6-cam 3d printed rig will probably run you ~$60-100 in material and print costs. That's why I prefer laser cutting when possible – you can get my whole 18-cam rig cut for $20 or less. Acrylic or wood, 3mm thickness. A 3D printer takes a 3D file, like an OBJ or a CAD file, as input. Any 3D program, like Blender (which is free) can produce or edit a compatible file. A laser cutter (check out places that advertise custom signage, like LED signs – they will often have CNC laser cutters, which is what you're looking for) will take a vector file, like an Adobe Illustrator .AI file, and cut the lines out from wood or acrylic. Go ahead and download the .AI files I have posted on this site and open them up, either in Illustrator or a freeware vector editor. You'll notice that the document units are in millimeters – this is to give the laser cutter exact dimensions for the cuts to make. I'm looking to Kickstart a really affordable (under $2000) all-in-one 3D 360 camera in the next week or so. If you're into that sort of thing, I'd still recommend you pick up the pair of 2 Yis to start playing with – great way to get started, and at least you'll always have a great set of action cameras to take on your next extreme sports outing ; But if you and your buddies are DIY-type folks, you can absolutely get started on a capable 3D 360 camera rig today. Cheers! Thanks again for posting. Jason

Sat, 10 Oct 2015 19:07:50 GMT

Jason, Thanks so much for your help. Awesome advice. We ordered two Xiaomi Yi cameras with Amazon prime about ten days ago. They were both given an expected delivery date of October 7th. We were hoping to receive them and have time to set up the rig before our 3-week road trip. We've received one but not the other. The second camera hasn't been shipped yet and Amazon said there's nothing they can do and the next earliest delivery for any shipper on Amazon is early-mid November. Just letting people know in case they are also hoping for a fast Amazon delivery of the Xiaomi Yi cameras. We opted to pay for an overnight delivery from a seller on Ebay and the camera should arrive on Tuesday! We'll let you know once we set up our rig and have a chance to shoot some video. Yay Canyons! Thanks again :). George and his Wife

Wed, 14 Oct 2015 05:55:53 GMT

Hey George, would love to know how you guys go playing with your new setup. Please update here if you get a chance, cheers mate!