360 Camera – Where to put it?

That’s the main question while shooting 360 videos: »Where to put it?« I mean the camera, of course. Because in cinematic VR you don’t zoom, pan, slide, or frame, the traditional cinema language is useless.

Your frame is everywhere around you – all 360 degrees of the world. And if your camera is moving, you have to find a reason for it move in your storytelling. Because if a cameraman is carrying or pushing the camera, he is in your film! Probably taking up at least a third of the frame. So that’s why a camera is usually static: Somebody has put it there and is hiding in the corner.

Not too close, not too far away, not too high, not too low – that’s the main guideline: »Not too …« You won’t have a perfectly framed shot because the viewer will choose his own shot for himself. So your task as a VR filmmaker is basically not to mess up the shot.

Sounds easy, right?

I think that the success of 360 video (and by success I mean the video being interesting enough to make the viewer want to wear a headset and move their head around) highly depends on where you put the camera or where you could go with the camera (and by go I mean climb, dive, etc.). If you show the places and spaces where people don’t usually go and angles from which they can’t normally see, with cinematic VR you transport the viewers to those places. Viewers can »feel« that they are there. It could be the peak of Everest, the restricted zone of Chernobyl, or simply a sunset on a remote beach.

So in the past few months, I have been playing around with a 360 camera and trying to answer that question. My »top hit« so far? Probably placing the 360 camera on a Steadicam on a film set as it then had a reason to move and beautifully revealed the world of the film set with the actors and crew backstage.