360-Degree video on YouTube with the Ricoh Theta M15

March 23, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

You’ve probably all heard the news from YouTube, 360-Degree Videos are now supported. They playback nicely on a Chrome Browser. When you play them back on a Smartphone or Tablet, you get a VR type experience. The image not only moves around with the flick of a finger, it rotates as you rotate your device.




At Steve Troletti Photography we’ve been preparing for 360-Degree video for a while. Building grips and testing out new technologies to better immerse our audience in the world of Nature and Wildlife Photography. In the professional production arena you can put together a bunch of cameras on a rig. Then you have to invest even more time and money in post production stitching and creating properly formatted 360-Degree videos. All of this gear can prove awkward in a Nature and Wildlife setting.

Not all that true anymore, Ricoh upgraded their Theta M15 from a 360 Spherical still image camera to a full 360-Degree video camera. At the snap of a button you can record up to 3 full minutes of full 360-Degree Spherical video. All that with this small and convenient camera

Post processing is simple. Once the Theta’s video files are downloaded to your computer, via USB, the Theta application does the final stitching and conversion to an MP4 file. For now Ricoh has a size limit on their web site. You will be limited to approximately 10 seconds of video if you choose to share your video through the Theta360.com site.

YouTube now makes it possible to share much larger full length videos. The process is reported by some as clunky and weird but I found it relatively simple. YouTube requires you to insert additional data to your 360-Degree video files. You can run a simple Python script or a compiled app on your computer. I ran the Windows app. It’s extremely simple but seems to only work on Windows 7 and not Windows 8.1. YouTube makes all the information and conversion tool downloads available HERE.

I made three simple videos as soon as I had a 360-Degree video enabled Ricoh Theta in my hands. Note that the ability is brand new and made possible from a firmware update. This leads me to believe that Ricoh probably has a bag full of tricks and improvements for the Theta just waiting to be perfected and implemented. They did it with the still images and there’s no reason to believe that the Theta’s video abilities won’t continue to improve. For now you will need a Chrome browser to experience the 360-Degree Video on YouTube or an Android device with the YouTube APP. Not sure what the result is on an IOS device.

Audio can be a little weird under some circumstances. Ambient noises seem to be equalized and noise suppression also implemented. I personally experienced some crackling in the audio. In most cases you won’t experience this. I’m told by Ricoh that they are looking into my experiences with the audio.

The Theta is built on the principles of Social Media sharing. The still  images are very light 72DPI files built by stitching the information received from two separate sensors equipped with +/- 180-degree lenses. The Theta also seems to be geared at providing the best image quality for close subjects. 360-Degree video files tend to be heavy in nature. Both still and video images display better in the Theta application and online on the theta360.com web site. Still images converted by Google Maps and 360-Degree Videos on YouTube tend to loose some quality.

The Ricoh Theta seems to be the perfect mix of convenience and portability. Sure you loose some image quality for convenience but the possibilities are endless. In comparison to an Android phone which takes over a dozen images to create a photosphere, the Ricoh Theta M15 creates 360-Degree Spherical images from only two pictures. Some criticized the current market price of $300USD ($350CDN). With the video features now present in the Theta M15, I think it’s a more than a fair price. You do get a quality built device that feels solid in your hands. You do have to be careful handling the unit. The two 180-Degree lenses protrude and can be easily damaged if you’re careless. The small footprint of the unit makes it almost invisible on it’s own images. This small footprint also makes the unit unstable on uneven surfaces or windy conditions. I suggest you use appropriate grips and only expose the lenses once the Theta is secured.

For more information regarding the Ricoh Theta visit ricohtheta360.com

I obtained my Ricoh Theta M15 from L. L. Lozeau. They are the Number one destination for both Professional Photographers and Videographers in the Montreal area.


In the USA – B&H and Amazon.com both carry the Ricoh Theta M15


Also available on Amazon.ca in Canada

Licensing and print sales

Most of the photographs in the galleries are available as prints or for licensing. For printing options, or if you'd like to purchase a license to use any of my photographs for non-exclusive editorial, non-commercial or commercial use, please contact me.


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