360 imaging

(Editor’s note: As of Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, NonDoc has cancelled its subscription to a service that hosted the images previously embedded below. To view those images, click here.)

Much ado about 360 imaging and virtual reality was made this year at the Online News Association’s annual conference. In the interest of exploring one facet of these trends, NonDoc has acquired its very own 360 camera. Beyond the novel, interactive images and videos that the technology provides, we have discovered that the 360 camera also helps break down the barriers between reader and reporter.

In journalism theory, there is a concept known as framing. Framing is similar to what’s commonly referred to as spin and occurs mainly through the presentation of certain ideas within a certain context. For example, Donald Trump was very adamant at times during his campaign that news cameras were failing to include shots of the crowd in their coverage. In that sense, the cameras are literally “framing” reality, and the viewer will receive a different set of impressions based on what the camera’s frame contains.

To that end, the 360 camera gets rid of frames altogether. Through its use of dual 180-degree cameras, it produces spherical images in which the entirety of a physical space is captured all at once. It is merely up to the view to explore the image for themselves and draw their own conclusions about what’s actually happening.

Some experiments

NonDoc has been clandestinely experimenting with its 360 camera since October. During this time, we have been able to test out various settings and venues to see what works and what should be avoided when shooting in 360. Basically, large crowds, scenic vistas and well-lit spaces make for the best 360 subjects, in our experience. Below are some examples:

As you can see, the 360 images allow the viewer to explore an immersive space as if they were actually there rather than being limited to the framing provided by a traditional camera. Viewers can see the crowd density at an event in addition to the central action no matter where the camera is initially positioned.

NonDoc hopes to make more use of 360 journalism in the coming year. In the meantime, if you have any technical issues or questions about viewing these images, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.