Even though many 360 cameras are equipped with gyros and other sensors to help stabilize video output, it's usually not enough to deal with all types of unwanted motion. Facebook will automatically stabilize 360 videos uploaded to their site, and for certain types of content, it works well. I've tested this recently to understand the limits of Facebook's software, and you can observe the results below. The first video was taken during a recent protest march in Ottawa. I mounted the camera on a telescopic monopod, and held it above my head.
It works rather well, although there is an odd floating effect that I don't see in the original. I've looked at other videos when the operator is walking with the camera on a monopod something similar, and for the most part, the algorithm does a good job of damping out unwanted motion. However, it's not adept at stabilizing everything. In the next video, take note of the odd stretching distortion as Facebook attempts to compensate for the swaying motion of the monopod as I skate along the frozen Rideau Canal.
The obvious solution would be to mount the camera on a gimbal. There are many options for conventional cameras that cater for all types of users, from amateurs all the way up to professional videographers. You can buy gimbals that can be held, mounted on your body or on a bike, car, drone or just about anything. But for 360 cameras the options are few at the moment. A standard 3-Axis gimbal won't work with my Samsung Gear 360, the Nikon Keymission, or any other 360 camera because they work on the principle that there is one lens and it faces in one direction. The second lens would be blocked by the gimbal. There are some gimbals available for 360 video cameras, but most are very expensive. That said, some inventive types have come up with clever low-cost solutions. One in particular suits me because it will work with the Samsung. It consists of a 3D-printed accessory (see red component in the photos below) and a counterweight. According to it's French creator, Denis Fritsch, the adapter will only fit the the Zhiyun Smooth II. I was lucky enough to find a used Smooth II for about half of the retail price on eBay. I've also ordered the adapter from Denis, and I expect to see both arrive next week for testing. I'll post the results here as soon as I can. There will be gimbals hitting the market later this year that are intended specifically for 360 cameras, but until then, I hope this will do the job.
Denis demonstrates his solution below (French only).
One of the challenges with capturing 360° photos or video is lighting, especially given that many of the consumer-grade cameras currently on the market have small sensors and don't work well poorly lit spaces. Early adopters have investigated different ways of adding light without the lights themselves becoming an unwanted feature of the image. One approach is to hide lights in the blind spot of the camera. That means the unit needs to be small and relatively powerful. Mic Ty of 360rumors.com bought a cheap, flexible, clip-on reading light and demonstrated that it is possible to improve the lighting in areas immediately surrounding the camera.
Inspired by his approach, I've purchased one of these lights and I've spent some time testing different configurations. The clip also contains a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, so for most applications it doesn't need external power sources, although you can use the charge cable to add a bigger battery or plug it into an AC outlet with the included adapter for longer duration video, such as live streaming.
I realized I'd have to play around with it some more to get the optimum set up (see photo above). The clip slid down the tripod and I knew I'd have to use something to fix it in place. Then I remembered the flexible ties given to me at Christmas (thanks Shannon!).
While the light helps to fill in the shadows, I'll need something more powerful for bigger spaces. But for the price, it's a valuable addition to my toolkit (An excellent challenge for my industrial design friends at Carleton University!).