Earlier this year at NAB, the team at 3DR unveiled the ability to shoot 360 degree aerial video with a combination of their Solo drone and the Kodak PIXPRO SP360 4K camera. That combination is now available for purchase for $999.
Though imperfect, this is the first widely distributed and easy way to get aerial drone 360 degree footage. When I first heard about this, I was a bit confused on how it would work, seeing as the Solo has four legs that would get in the way of a hanging camera. This setup goes around that problem by using two cameras in conjunction, one on top and one on bottom.
There’s one camera on top of the drone and one on the bottom, attached with a wrap-around vibration-isolating mount made to Solo’s specs. (Video is also stabilized electronically.) This ensures you’ll capture smooth and immersive 360 VR video in vivid 4K.
The package includes fully automated stitching software specifically for Solo aerial video, a remote control, and a mount. The cameras record on Micro SD, Micro SDHC or Micro SDXC cards, with up to 128GB support (cards not included).
This all sounds great, and it’s not even that expensive for what the possibilities of the device are. Unfortunately, I’m still hesitant for two reasons. First, the demo video they showed isn’t particularly “smooth and immersive.” The footage is choppy, and you can definitely feel the wind as it’s moving the camera thanks to no physical gimbal on either the top or bottom camera. The second reason is that the video… just isn’t that good. The quality is sub par. Even at 4K, the footage just looks blown up, with actual pixels visible throughout, and the stitching could use some work as there are quite visible lines in pretty obvious places. The Kodak camera also appears to have a hard time moderating highlights and shadows, with many places blown out, such as the clouds and sky.
It’s a good start though, and improvement is surely on the horizon.