Creating 360 Video content for Surgical Education

Having had so much interest from our work capturing video footage for virtual reality in the operating theatre, we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our research with the community and explore some of the different options which we have considered.

Types of Camera

There are increasingly more and more ways to capture video for virtual reality, all of which have their pros and cons. Below are a few of the camera setups we have considered, along with each cameras use case.

360 Mirror Rig

360 Mirror Camera

One of the earliest ways to capture 360 degree video was with a mirror rig. In this setup, the camera points directly at a convex mirror, which reflects the scene around it. Because there are no additional cameras or angles to stitch together, you can ‘unwrap’ the resulting image into a stitch error-free 360 video. The problem with this approach however is that in order to ‘unwrap’ the mirror image, you have to distort the video footage, effectively stretching and tearing the video pixels apart, which results in a massive loss of quality. Even when using a camera with a large sensor and resolution size such as a RED Epic, the loss of quality is too severe when designing footage for the Oculus Rift, particularly when dealing with such a sensitive use case such as surgery, where every detail matters.

The alternative to this is to use more cameras. Read more