Monday, October 30, 2017

Pop Up Thinglab 31: 360 Degrees of Happiness Workshop

Our group of Virtual Reality Explorers

Pop Up Thinglab 31 was a Crafts Council Make:Shift:Do partnership workshop between inspireNshare and Croydon Music and Arts.

The objective was to introduce young people to virtual reality and 360 media as a new art and craft form and engage them in a new discipline of making to think about, make and share wellbeing and happiness. 

The message on the blackboard in our workshop

14 young people came along to use a 360 camera to create a virtual reality performance on the theme of happiness and wellbeing.

The current generation of virtual reality (Rift, Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR and Cardboard) has been in the news a lot over the last year and while most people have heard about it only a small number of people have actually had a go at virtual reality let alone use it to create content. This workshop was a wonderful opportunity for a group of young people to not only experience virtual reality but to see themselves in it and use their creativity to make virtual reality media and share it globally.

360\VR media making doesn't have to be expensive or complicated ... there are many accessible, easy to use and relatively cheap 360 cameras available that work with mobile phones to process, view and share 360 media - from the LG 360 Cam at just under £100 through the Insta 360 air at around £130 to the likes of the Ricoh Theta S, 360 Fly and LG 360 at just under £300. You can use cameras like these to record 360 content and then view them locally on your phone with a 360 viewing app or upload and share on social media platforms that "understand" 360 media so that people can play back and view the media in 360 degrees. Flickr can view 360 stills, Youtube can view 360 videos while Facebook can play both 360 stills and videos. With the LG 360 Cam. a Google cardboard viewer and Youtube you can become a VR video producer for under £100!

For this workshop we used the Samsung Gear 360 VR ecosystem (Samsung phone, Gear VR 360 camera and Gear VR headset). The Samsung VR ecosystem is especially useful on location when you want to see and show people what you have recorded - you can remotely control the camera to transfer a recording to the phone and view it by putting the phone into the Gear VR headset. The phone and the camera use their own direct wifi and everything works off-line - especially useful when you have no WiFi access or where you need to show people what has been recorded before uploading to VR capable platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Flickr.

We took a few 360 stills to view and understand the concept of 360 media making and talked about the differences between "flat" and 360 media, how the whole room is in shot and about the first person perspective of virtual reality. 

We spoke about the theme of happiness and well-being and the young people immediately expressed their creativity by suggesting that rather than make a video about happiness and well-being they could make a video that would make people feel happy and well :)

With the support of their youth worker the group chose a piece of music (Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake) and planned their performance in 360 degrees. In less than an hour the group had taken a brief to production in 360 degrees - very impressive! You can see their happiness generating 360 video below.

360 media making is still in the early stages - the techniques and creative possibilities of this new immersive medium are still being explored and developed. 360 media making is very different from "flat" media making, I remember one director describing "flat" media as like hunting whereas 360 media making is more like setting a trap - it's more akin to immersive theatre or the first person perspective in video games than the controlled singular third person perspective of the director in traditional flat media. 360\VR media is a young medium for young people and the combination is truly exciting and inspiring - they take to it naturally ... "like ducks to water" and I can't wait to see what happens in the next decade.

See more photos from Pop Up Thinglab 31 here

To find out more about inspireNshare visit

To find out more about inspirenshare Pop Up Thinglabs visit