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360-Degree Video in X-Plane

Last updated Wed, 05 Apr 2017 14:37:31 GMT
Originally posted on Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:00:06 GMT

As one of the most actively engaged with and powerful communities around, flight simulation videos tend to be very popular. However, like every other form of video, there’s always the aim and the ambition to do better. 

One of the most effective ways to make sure this is the case, of course, is to use new software, hardware and technology to make that a possibility.

How do you do this? It’s actually very simple; you innovate with direction. This video showcases just how powerful simulation can look when taken with the right kind of camera. As viewers ourselves, we were interested to see how flight simulation videos would change over the years. Well, it looks like the biggest change might just have rocked up!

Screenshot of the panoramic video from YouTube

More interactive and engaging flight simulation videos has been a must for the market for quite some time now. Exposure is vital, as is the depth of the video, but it takes a lot of time to find this depth. The most powerful view that you could get from a cockpit, though, is a 360-degreee aircraft view.

Although 360-degree camera view tech has been around for some time, the usage has always been quite vague. This is about to change. People are using it more and more for real-life videos, but it’s yet to become a major hit with flight simulations videos – that is, of course, until now.

It’s a major part that has been missing from the simulation community but it looks like – finally – that may be resolved. The introduction of this awesome 360-degree video in X-Plane shows you just how astute and how wonderful this view is.

It also lets you see effectively just how easy it is to start changing, improving and the view that you get in simulation.

How Does This Work?

The team behind this brilliant mod have worked diligently to create an exciting platform that’s also very easy to use. The recording took place using several different views, taking in each of the angles throughout. Afterwards, the footage of each separate view was connected together into one simple equirectangular image.

In the industry this is known as “stitching” and implies putting together more than one piece of footage of the same object to create a striking design. The video was then uploaded online for simple and easy consumption, sharing and discussion across the flight simulation community.

Of course, like any other video or mod out there, a massive amount of challenges existed in the creation of this video. The team behind this has to get used to trying to create in such a specific sphere, with many minor errors and mistakes coming up in the directive process.

With every single stitched frame fully harmonized to make sure it carries the right feeling and look, harmony took an exceptionally long time to perfect. Also, the team now need to work on creating a batch for this that would allow for 360 recording in the future.

That being said, don’t expect to be seeing a real-time edition of this to be coming out any time soon. The team have quashed the idea of being able to create such a mod at present, with limitations of the current hardware meaning that it would be a challenge perhaps too far.

However, they do believe they can perfect the process of stitching it together much easier in the future. This should allow for development of more videos in this 360 mold which is bound to help you capture and create the most effective form of video, hopefully ushering in a new era of media.

360 Degree Video

You can move left/right/up/down using the drag feature of your mouse.

Why Was This Created?

You might now be wondering why the team would go to such lengths to create this video. Put simply, they believed that 360 degree video was a major element missing from the community. It would add another layer of realism and enjoyment to the simulation process, and probably improve the way that most people created content.

A change of camera angle might not be much, but it’s something that can help introduce people to the full picture of aviation and why it matters so much – the idea was, simply, to improve video interaction.

What’s The Long-Term Aim?

The team behind the project have one aim – to eventually create technology that would allow this process to be streamlined. The technology based on using 360-degree video is b no means a new future, and is used regularly in the real world for so many factors. However, 360-degree camera has never been a part of the flight simulation world. Therefore, adding another tool and an extra solution to the table was the first port of call of this mod.

Spherical video adds another level of immersion for users and could be the catalyst to help others see the power of simulation at its best.

Not only is this going to make it easier for people in the long-term to make videos that they love, but it’s going to improve the time and speed needed to create these videos as well. When the video plays back, the hope is to create it so that users can adjust the viewpoint they are seeing at that point.

The idea is for a creation in X-Plane that works as a plugin. This plugin would then adapt and include all recordings, from every direction, and produce a video to be uploaded to somewhere like YouTube. However, at present this is a logistical nightmare; at this time, the first results can be seen above.

There is no potential date for the creation of the video software to be used. The long-term aim is to improve suitability of the recording, and to improve the quality of the output. Images are blurry and short at present, and the aim is to make this better in the near future.

Whilst the creation of the final plugin may be a long way away, we expect that continuous improvement across the market is likely to come. Already, companies such as OpenVFR are getting involved in the creation of beta software to make this possible.

The challenge that exist are massive and should not be underestimated in any capacity. However, these challenges can – and should – be met with excitement. They make it easier than ever for people to engage with and enjoy the world of flight simulation from a fresh new perspective.

Creating the software is going to take a massive amount of time and patience, but it is by no means going to be an impossibility. We’ll keep you all updated regarding any new releases for this. 

Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a Flight Simulation enthusiast with a keen interest in aviation and technology. He has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.

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