Technology

Insta360 builds

Insta360 builds
Written by admin_3fxxacau

Insta360, Shenzhen’s 360° camera powerhouse, has released a new camera. It’s designed to work with two popular DJI drones – opening up possibilities for your aerial videos and photos that simply couldn’t be achieved without it.

Cameras that rotate 360° are pretty cool. And they’re especially cool when they’re on a drone. Why is that? Because – when done right – the drone becomes invisible, and you really have a “flying camera”. Not only that, but in the edit you can play director, choose what you want to show from just about any angle – and even transition between two completely different places within that sphere. You can literally make endless different modifications from a single flight. Wrap yourself in another edit, and even an amateur pilot performing slow, meticulous flight can look like a pro.

Sphere

The product is called “Sphere.” It straps around the body of the DJI Air 2 and Air 2S, with handy holes so it won’t block the downward-facing sensors. Here’s an overview, and a few things worth noting:

  • The locking mechanism is at the top above the battery but does not block the power button
  • The cameras protrude above and below the drone’s body. This makes landings slightly awkward, but there’s a fix we’ll explore later.
  • The power and record buttons as well as the electronics are in the module seen on the right, between the upper and lower lenses
  • The battery and charging port are seen here on the left

Here is how Insta360 describes the product:

“The all-new Insta360 Sphere is a 360-degree invisible drone camera, the ultimate tool to enhance your content production with the DJI Mavic Air 2/2S. With Sphere attached, the drone becomes completely invisible in the resulting footage, while that the camera’s lightweight unibody structure and intuitive operation make 360° aerial filming easier than ever. Creators can take advantage of powerful editing tools such as 360° crop, auto-tracking and more to effortlessly capture otherwise impossible shots and effects.

Insta360

The Sphere, attached to an Air 2S. Note that the support does not hide the sensors…

How it works

To create a true 360° image, you need to be able to capture everyone around you. In this case, the product has two cameras, each capable of filming just over 180 degrees. One of these cameras, when attached, sits just above the top of the Air 2 or Air 2S. The other is just below flush with the bottom – meaning they collectively capture the world above and below the drone. When these two halves are combined and stitched together, you end up with a single file that captures the entire space around the drone in 5.7K. If you look at the photo below you will see how well these lenses show.

Lenses, by necessity, have to stick like this…

Wait a second

Wait a minute, you say. How is the drone going to lay flat on the ground with a gadget like this. The answer? This will not be the case. In fact, when Sphere is attached, the drone sits much like a tripod, balancing on two legs and the lower lens.

It looks like this.

Yes, it’s quite an angle. But do not worry…

And again, aside:

So yes, it’s a bit unsightly. And you may be thinking: how am I going to take off? And won’t I scratch that bottom lens?

Two good questions, but no worries. the Sphere comes with lens protectors and also an Insta360 foldable landing pad which is designed to be easy on that glass (although you want to make sure the pad is free of any grit before flying). And the drone, of course, compensates for this wonky takeoff angle with its flight controller. The drone straightens out, level with the horizon, when you take off. Of course, the extra weight of Sphere will reduce your flight time somewhat, so plan accordingly and keep an eye on your battery level.

As for shooting, its operation could not be simpler. Turn on the camera just before the flight, then press the record button. (Small flat: these buttons were to be intended for really little fingers.) When your flight is over, you can edit with the free mobile app or desktop app. And this is where the magic really opens up. You can appear to be flying upside down, for example, which is clearly impossible with the Air 2 or Air 2S. With enough patience, the possibilities are endless. Check out this Insta360 video, which really highlights the capabilities. (Nice work, Gene Nagata!)

We’re working on our own video review for later, so stay tuned. But it really shows what Sphere can do.

Specifications

As you might expect, Sphere’s goals are ultra Big angle. The 35mm equivalent focal length is 7.2mm. The maximum video bitrate is a healthy 100 Mbps, with a maximum runtime of 48 minutes. It takes 5.7K resolution at 24, 25, or 30 fps. If you’re looking for slow-motion action, you can shoot 50fps at 4K and higher frame rates at lower resolution.

As for the weight, the Sphere weighs 192 grams, which is about a third of the weight of the Air 2 and Air 2S. This will therefore reduce your flight time, and Insta360 recommends bringing the drone home a little earlier than you normally would. Here’s a more in-depth look at the specs:

Software

With Flowstate stabilization, captured video is smooth and silky smooth – we think we can probably give DJI some props on that too. But what will really elevate your video production is Insta360 desktop software, available for Mac or PC. It lets you take that insv video file and do wonders.

Insta360’s software – desktop and mobile – is really feature-rich and intuitive, which is great for freeware. And Insta360 has tons of tutorials and templates (including in the mobile app) to get you started. The company has an excellent record of engagement with its users. And for free? Its software is amazing. I only made limited edits on the desktop app (more familiar with the mobile app), but enough to see if it offers incredible creative control. We already said it here, but you can edit countless different movies from this source file. The only limit? Your own creativity.

Who is it for ?

Well, obviously, anyone who owns an Air 2 or Air 2S and wants to shoot quality 360° footage and have unlimited editing possibilities. It is a given.

But the Sphere 360, in my mind, is much more than that. Previous efforts with 360 cameras and drones have shown promise, but have always had drawbacks. With conventional drones, such as DJI, 360 systems have usually been attached to either the bottom of the drone or the top. This means that the drone itself comes into play. Of course, with editing, it is possible to choose a variety of plans that do not do not include the drone, but the versatility you’ll get with this system has obvious advantages.

The other issue is that many drones built for 360 have been FPV. There have been some clever efforts, including one from BetaFPV, which placed the ONE R directly into the body of the drone, with one lens looking above the chassis and one below. But it also exposed the lenses to potential landing damage, even for experienced FPV pilots.

Ease of use

The Sphere will change that, allowing even weekend DJI pilots to fly very comfortable missions and still use Insta’s desktop editing software to produce videos with rolls, inverted flights, even howling dives with crazy transitions. As you saw in the Insta360 video, it’s no exaggeration to say that even a basic driver will be able to export some pretty amazing movies. Insta360 says the following in their launch material:

Insta360 Sphere delivers immersive footage, without the need to purchase a new drone or have professional flight or editing skills. Powered by Insta360’s industry-leading software, Sphere unlocks endless ways to create killer content from drone footage.

Insta360 version

And you know what? This is not an exaggeration.

the Sphere is available to order in the United States and China, starting today. Retail is $429.99. Not bad, for a world of possibilities.


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