Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Ricoh Theta S review

I didn't want to rush this review of the Ricoh Theta S 360 camera, I wanted to give it three weeks of usage to provide a hopefully balanced review. It'd have been far too easy to have a knee jerk reaction.


The Theta S can do both 360 video and 360 stills...and before you ask, yes you can take exposures to do an on set HDRI (at a res of 5376 x2688). However the theta doesn't automatically do this for you, you need one of the third party apps out there. You also then have to combine these into you HDRI in Photoshop etc.


But really that's not that much hassle and a small price to pay really.  The trick is knowing how to set up your exposures to get enough headroom in 32 bits for a good HDRI.  But you'll have to figure that out yourself, as I'm not going to tell you those settings.


The quality of the resulting 360 images is pretty damn good, and with a f2 lens it's also good in low light. Although it obviously will never be as good as a full frame sensor camera.  It records video at 1080p, which might sound awesome until you realise that this is for the full spherical shot. Then suddenly once viewed as such (or even in a VR headset) you notice the quality is not that brilliant. Ideally at least 4K or even 8k would been needed for a really nice sharp video.


There are a few apps that can make life easier when using the theta. While the official Ricoh Theta S app for both IOS and android is great for normal use, it's as much use as a chocolate spacesuit if your intending to take HDRI’s.  So I'll provide a list of those here with my ratings from my own personal testing. Although a top tip when using any of these is to always connect to the ThetaS wifi BEFORE opening any of the apps. Otherwise they can crap out and drop connection.


One app I personally find invaluable for post work on HDRI’s is Lys by KnaldTech


Lys by KnaldTech




Their blurb on the site describes it as such:


Lys is an ultra-fast GPU app that generates Radiance, Irradiance and Specular textures from panoramic, Sphere or 2d cube map cross source textures for use with HDR Image Based Lighting.
It can convert, manipulate and tweak your source images in real-time, generate Radiance, Irradiance and Specular textures on the fly and choose between Cosine weighted, GGX and Gaussian specular terms with fully automated BRDF convolved MIP maps with user configurable varying Specular Power or Roughness, Lys can help give you the tools and functionality that you need to ensure that your project’s HDR Image based lighting pipeline is the best that it can be.


I’d also add that of extra special interest is the ability to rotate in X, Y and Z the panoramic HDRI to align it just as you wish.  I’d urge you to give it a go as it’s a very handy tool for manipulating and previewing Theta HDRI’s .


The Theta does a pretty decent job of removing itself from all photos, videos less so but its not too bad really. The theta s is in my opinion perfect for on set HDRI capture, and also for use as a witness cam.  It's small enough to be unobtrusive, and a lot faster to use than a full DSLR and nodal ninja setup. I can get all exposures needed in about 44 seconds, although I have a feeling I can speed this up further. If you're into programming they have also made the SDK available, in fact I have a feeling as current triggering apps are also downloading the images to your phone between shots, that an app that didn't do this would significantly speed this process up.


Android Theta Apps



Right now I use 3 apps on my andriod phone for both triggering and also taking the images needed for a good HDRI.  If you’v never taken images for use as a HDRI light probe I do urge you to research the subject properly. There is nothing worse than a HDRI that doesn't have enough range to be useful.


Ricoh Theta S app

Not that broad in scope but what it does, it does well. I’d recommend getting that one as standard. They do a IOS version as well for those of you on the Apple side of the blanket.


Plus points:
Ricoh made it so it works pretty flawlessly with the Theta S.
Bad points:
You can't natively take the images required for HDRI’s easily


THETA HDR by Panolife GmbH

Allows you to generate 360 HR images...or rather more accurately take the shots that you can then make into a HDRI.  ONly draw back is no control over how many images (it takes 3 and that is not enough in my opinion for serious usage, although still hold up fine for personal work in most cases)


Plus points
If you're in a real god damned hurry it only takes seconds to take the 3 images.  
Bad points:
it only has 3 images you can then use, and zero control over any settings, so your working on trust those settings are correct.


Theta S HDR by M-Apps
This allows far more control, all be it in not the world's most attractive UI. But to be blunt I’m not interested in how pretty an app such as this works, only that it works and works well. Which it does.
It allows very fine control over both the amount of images and all settings used in each shot taken.  I’ve managed to get some fantastic nighttime HDRI’s out of it. Although to be fair that's also down to the fact I know my way both around cameras and taking HDRI’s very well also.


Plus points:
very fine level of control,, so capable of producing excellent results
Bad points:
none... apart from it can take about 45 seconds to take a full wide ranging set of images. Which to be honest isn't too damn bad! (It’d still take far longer with a DSLR / Nodal ninja / fisheye setup)


Example Images:

Taken at native res of 5376 x2688




Yes that is me taking the test images outside the kitchen door at home.

In posts below and (no doubt above this one) there are some HDRI's I've taken with the Theta and all have some back plates for those that wish to test things out before investing in a Theta

Example videos:



These are just personal videos usually taken while out with my kids, they really weren't meant for public consumption as such.  But as they serve the purpose pretty well I’ll stick a couple here.




I've taken many more and may add to this post once I upload / track down the videos at a later date


Wayne’s Verdict:



An amazingly useful bit of kit for use if you want to take full 360 panoramic HDRI light probes, or wish to just arse around taking 360 video. The video quality isn't there yet and my bet is to get the quality we are used to seeing in a non VR way these days, it’ll need to be above 4k.  But for about £300 you can't really complain. Yep you’ll need a tripod for taking good HDRI’s but it’s still far faster for on set usage than a DSLR / Nodal Ninja / Fisheye combo

Monday, 29 February 2016

7 Free HDRI's and back plates

I recently bought a Ricoh Theta S 360 camera.  So like many of you one of my first reasons was to easily take HDRI on the fly.  At a later date I'll do a review of the camera the workflow and the apps you can use, for now here are some free HDRI produced from the camera. I've included some back plates as well.

My logic on making them free is simple, as  am still nailing the perfect workflow and combo of apps and exposures to get a good mix of speed and range, it seemed a good idea to make them free.  The back plates were done on my HTC One M8 phone (as when you have two kids with you , the last thing you want is to be carrying a heavy camera, tripod and lenses...trust me lol.)

Barnard Castle -  The Vault




Barnard Castle - The Moat



Barnard Castle -  -exterior




Barnard Castle -  Far Exterior





Tynemouth Priory and WW2 bunkers etc







Enjoy and feel free to use on anything non commercial all HDRI are at a resolution of 5376 x 2688 and are taken with differing amount of exposures (depending on how much my kids were harassing me at the time ;) )  If you do anything that looks nice with them I've love to see.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Fantastic Four Reel (temp edit)






I'm finally allowed to show some of my work on Fantastic Four as Lead Lighting Artist at MPC in Montreal last year.  This is only a temp reel (cut together in about 40 mins)..and remember folks...it was very much a massive team effort.  I was responsible for the environment lighting on the planet zero end sequence.   And......thats probably about as much as I can say :)

Enjoy

...and no I still haven't watched the film..... or my last film or much else I've done really.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Wayne's 2015 Year in Review


Its that time of the year again when I do my review of my year, I'd thought before working back over the last years blog that I'd actually done not to much of interest really in comparison to other years ...boy was I wrong!

My year started with me flat broke, life was sort of in a good place on a personal level but career wise fairly fucked.  But the year took off as it continued onwards only for me to be hit with a few sets of bad news on the personal front which side tracked me away from the 3D personal art side this year.  So as a result I've only done Four 3D models this year, although obviously many many more than that from a work point of view.

So lets breakdown things into months as it may be easier.

January

After doing 4 or 5 solid days lecturing at the University of Herefordshire in Hatfield going for an interview for a 2nd job at another MPC branch that I turned down....

The notable events were the 15th anniversary of the main site www.DashDotSlash.net and also I got so mind numbingly bored one afternoon that I wrote the game 'Flappy Dildo' which of course was a piss take on the game Flappy Birds.  What can I say? I have a weird sense of humour and it was a VERY boring day lol.



I also did a fair few paintings including the inverse painting of Keith Richards








February

February was a 'paintings' month as at this point I'd been surviving on painting commissions for the start of the year. I also did a one for the Help for Heroes charity to raise money at an auction.





March


I decided to record a few tutorial videos for YouTube as I was bored and had a bit of spare time...








I did Two painting commissions for Neil Hazzard of Autodesk a one for the British Army and a self portrait as I had an extra canvas going spare at the time and lots of red paint I needed to use up.






April

In April I moved to Montreal to work as Lead Lighting Artist at MPC  on the Fantastic Four film.... which I still haven't seen.  As I knew I'd not have my easel or paints I sort of went a bit mad on paintings this month before I left finishing on just 24 hours before I left.

















August

Unfortunately due to some serious health problems of someone back home in my family I had to give up my job at MPC and move back to my home town.  This meant coming back deeply in debt up to my eyeballs, but sometimes you have to put family first...for once I did.

I also released my 7th commercial music Album under the name GSMA called The Dark Library (available on all good streaming services..a few shit ones and Amazon and iTunes)














The 1st trailer for the Fantastic Four film I worked as lead lighting artist on came out this month as well.  while in Montreal I'd started watercolour painting again after about 20 odd years....

This one was for my work mate John Volny I was working with at MPC montreal






 another few paintings on canvas as well...





September

Only a single painting this month a commission of Heath Ledgers Joker


December

After another few months busy with both personal life stuff and work for a client I cant mention I did a commission for Ste Hall who happens to run my favourite bar in the world (The Turf in Consett, my home town) of blues legend Robert Johnson as an Xmas present for his wife Juliette.




So with just 24 hours or so left of 2015 my tally this year was:
 (of the things I can tell you about outside of any NDA's)


30 paintings (one never shown...in case your interested it was a acrylics on canvas one of my girlfreind)
1 music album release (The Dark Library by GSMA)
1 game made (personal)
1 film made (Fantastic Four)
4 3d models (personal ones  - mess arounds only as no time for anything serious)
6 YouTube tutorial videos on all sorts of 3D stuff
1 video time-lapse
1 painting time-lapse
1 music video (Dead by Dawn by GSMA ...which is one of the names I record under)



So all in all I've been very busy this year... although when I take into account the personal / private side its been a year of epic ups and epic downs.  My classical concept album was also STILL not finished and is now about to run into its 3/4th year of composing and recording.)

So I give you all my best wishes for 2016 and wish you all a very Happy New Year.


onwards and upwards ;)


Wayne...



Monday, 28 December 2015

New painting: Blues Legend Robert Johnson (Commission)



Its been a fair old while since I updated my blog, but alas a lot of what I am doing work wise at the present time I cant actually mention.  So there's not a whole lot to talk about.  I was asked to do the above painting as a commission for Ste Hall as a present for his wife Juliette (Ste and Juliette run The Turf ...my favorite bar on earth).

On other news I still haven't watched the Fantastic 4 film I worked as lead lighting artist on ... although my children have bother requested it and a blue ray of it is now in the house.  So I may not be able to resist much longer. (I rarely watch anything I have worked on or play any games I ave contributed to either... usual a personal thing as I find all you end up doing is remembering the crazy stories etc from when you were working on said thing. :) )  So if I can avoid watching something I've worked on...I usually do...although in this case I may not be able to manage that without my kids being disappointed lol.

My review of my year (such as its been) will be up at some point before new years eve.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Buy a painting of Red Dwarfs Danny JohnJules and get to get it signed at the next Red Dwarf filming



This painting is something special, as the lucky buyer (1st come 1st served, there's only one of them!) gets to attend the next filming of red dwarf and get it signed by The Cat himself, Mr Danny John Jules!

Luckily I know Danny and he has agreed to sign this and have the person at the filming of the next series of Red Dwarf.  So feel free to check I'm telling the truth with him on Twitter or Facebook etc.  So if your a fan of Red Dwarf, this might just be for you, a painting of Danny in character by myself (who has done a fair bit of 3D work for Danny over the years).

The lucky buyer would have the painting immediately shipped to them and then Danny would be in touch about attending the filming to meet him and get it signed.  The painting is 50cm x 60cm in size on canvas.

I'm sticking a price of £200 on it (non negotiable unless your wanting to raise the price lol). If your interested give me a shout either by email or on Facebook or twitter.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Painting Commission: Heath ledger as The Joker


A painting commission from my Cousin Nigel who wanted a Heath Leger Joker painting.  The hair was a right royal pain in the arse to do for some reason.