Posts: 3
Registered: ‎05-21-2015

Ricoh Theta 360/3D Rig proposal

[ Edited ]

Earlier in this post we proposed a new version of the Ricoh Theta camera to enable 3D shooting at 180°.




Futher we made a rig design to enable shooting in 3D at full 360° by also recording the action in the inner rig.

Ricoh Theta PentaRig.jpg


We used 5 Ricoh Thetas, although the minimum configuration to create 3D at full 360° movies is only 2 Ricoh Thetas (that's right only 2, we'll get to that later).


Now imagine you hold an umbrella with cameras attached to the margins, those pointing outwards will record in 3D a 360 degree panorama, but when you step under the umbrella the single cameras pointing inwards will record you talking.


The external image will be stitched on-the-fly in a single stereo 3D equirectangular image, to be played by standard players like ShrimpEyes, YouTube, Ricoh Player using the RECTILINEAR projection.


The internal image will also be stitched on-the-fly in a single stereo 3D equirectangular image, the 3D will however be generated by taking pixels from 2 Ricoh Thetas, (as there is only one lens pointing inwards per device).


In the previous post we said there are 3 modes for recording with only 1 ricoh theta, in the rig configuration we also have 3 modes:

  1. External 360°/3D (external lenses cannot capture the poles, but internal ones can, so we take pixels from them)
  2. Internal 360°/3D (internal cameras, still output in equirectangular)
  3. Full 360°/3D (all 15 lenses will output to a single file using the raw circular fisheye 180x180° format)


In the 3rd mode we leave everything raw because we'll lose too many pixels if we re-project the image at this point. Instead the cameras should only create one file with synced circular fisheye images from all lenses, preferably stacking the group of 3 lenses of each camera on top of the next one like:
Cam1Lens1 | Cam1Lens2 | Cam1Lens3
Cam2Lens1 | Cam2Lens2 | Cam2Lens3
Cam3Lens1 | Cam3Lens2 | Cam3Lens3
... and so on.


Having this we can use the player or stitching software to use any lenses to create any perspective. Preferably the player should to the job on-the-fly by using a complex projection algorithm and relieve the user of any stitching pain.


Imagine you play Morpheus holding this umbrella and explaining the Matrix, the user (Neo) wearing the VR headset will either look at Morpheus or around him trying to spot the lady in the red dress, or behind for agent Smith (clip here). This method of shooting will revolutionize interaction as not only you have 3D and 360 at the same time, but you can also circle around a centered object (remember Trinity's spinning kick?).

Red Girl.jpgTrinity.jpg


The Penta Rig uses some Extendable Telescopes, basically there are 3 extensions correlated with the 3 shooting modes described above:

  1. Fully folded for only the External image, as there isn't space for anything in the center
  2. Fully extended for only the Internal image, as 3D will not work anymore if the cameras are far apart
  3. Half extended for both External and Internal images


The rig should also behave similar to an umbrella, meaning the telescopes should adjust vertically from 0° - straight up to allow easy folding of the rig to about 120° downwards for the umbrella shooting mode.


Each telescope will connect to the camera via a flexible but rigid enough ball joint to allow adjusting the cameras in all directions.

The joints will be attached to the bottom of the camera in the special holding hole it already has.


The telescope will connect to the handle or tripod via a Spherical node with as many screw holes at possible to also create other types of configurations, with even more cameras. Since the telescope should flex vertically, the joint will be a mechanical part of the telescope and not the Spherical node described here. Also on the telescope some cable grips should exist in case the user want to connect each camera via USB cables.


One configuration will be attaching telescopes with lights.
Another configuration is attaching an actual umbrella on top of the rig, to either block the rain or the Sun, or to create ambient light.


The handle can be anything from a tripod, a selfie stick for cameras, a gyro gimbal stabilizer, some ceiling mount mechanism, anything with a standard camera screw that you already can find on the market.


A mechanism of pairing & syncing the cameras should be added via the existing WiFi.


Since a Ricoh Theta camera is 300$, the rig's total cost including cameras should be no more than 1800$, considerably lower than anything on the market today, it would be the lightest and most configurable rig by far, and will be compatible with any other cameras from Ricoh.


That's our take for today, hopefully it gets manufactured by Ricoh, it not we'll make it someday ourselves if we ever get the capacity.


Best regards, your opinions are welcomed.


*(Originally posted on