Sue Austin

Multimedia, performance & installation artist

What do we mean by 360º technology?

Doughnut or ring shaped image with black circle at the centre. Filmstill from panoramic underwater video in tropical sea with soft coral and shoals of different types of small fish. The aesthetic uses dynamic and high contrast colours and the sea is a dee

Doughnut image from GP360 camera. Filmstill & original video by Trish Wheatley.

360º is a rapidly evolving technology. With its roots stemming from 18th century ‘circular’ paintings, panoramic digital technology has exploded the possibilities for spherical and panoramic video and still imaging. This comes in many formats and functions from panoramic photography, video and VR gaming, to applications in science, technology and the arts. This project is harnessing 360º technology for artistic outcomes that create access for widest range of participants.  

The cameras used in this project:

Image shows GoPro camera in underwater housing with large conical attachment on the front of the lens, inside which a conical mirror is visible.

Image: Dan Burton

GP360

The GP360 is a highly portable and affordable single camera system that uses the popular action sports GoPro Hero HD camera in a modified case. The adaptation uses a parabolic (conical) mirror to capture wide-angle panoramic video. This emerges in raw footage as a circular doughnut which is then ‘unwrapped’ using imaging software to create a video suitable for 360 projection, head mounted displays and interactive players for smartphones and tablet devices.

Underwater photograph showing multi-camera GoPro rig suspended from pole.

Image: Rob Hughes

Multicamera GoPro rig (Plymouth University prototype)

AFFINITY (Formerly ICCI), Plymouth University have been developing multi-camera rigs for some years. Their latest product uses 3D printing to create an accurate case to hold 8 GoPros in place. Two composite plates sandwich the GoPros facing outwards in an octagonal configuration.  Synced using wifi technology each camera records a single angle of view which slightly overlaps with the next so that the panorama can be stitched together in the editing process. The advantage of this rig is the high quality and resolution achieved from using 8 cameras, however powerful computers are required to handle to the sheer amount of data involved. 

Display Technologies

Underwater scene projected onto strips of paper suspended from the ceiling.

Sue Austin's MA Degree show at Plymouth University Image: Trish Wheatley

Projected Installation (Freewheeling prototype)

Professional 360 projection with mapping software for edge blending is very expensive. Freewheeling have developed an immersive affordable system through the artist-led project ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ by Sue Austin. This comprises of a pentagonal aluminium frame strengthened by steel bars to suspend five wide-angle short throw projectors onto strips of material. This creates an etherial screen on which to project, with viewers able to see content from both inside and outside the installation. For optimum display performance this rig is best installed in a dark space. A desktop PC equipped with a special graphics card to take up to 6 displays is suspended in the rig and used to manage the projections.

Studio shot of the Oculus rift, a black plastic box that fits over a persons eyes, secured with think black elastic straps

Image: Oculus.com

Head Mounted Display (HMD)

This project is also researching the potential use of HMDs in home environments for people who cannot access traditional arts venues. Born out of  recognition that there are disabled people and others who experience many barriers to participating in the arts, this project aims to explore how 360º technology can help to overcome these barriers in innovative ways. We have selected the Oculus Rift HMD for its usability and affordability. Further details are available on the Oculus Rift website