SXSW would typically be a packed, vibrant conference in Austin. This year, the festival transformed into an action-packed and equally memorable virtual event. Attendees joined from all over the world to witness innovation and creativity in their favorite space, be it music, visual arts, technology, or something totally out of the ordinary. For us, that “out of the ordinary” was sharing the magic of 360° camera technology at the Creative Industries Exhibition, inspiring creative attendees to rethink their perspective on photography and how 360° technology can be used for creative and business ventures alike.

Our virtual booth was the destination for insightful videos and access to several educational workshops. But the highlight of the show was our featured roundtable discussion “Creating Creative Content”, featuring creatives Sam Rohn, Keith Martin, Chiara Masiero Sgrinzatto, and Yuqing Guo.

Credit: Sam Rohn

Topics ranged from 360° cameras in real estate and journalism, to immersive illustration with THETA and predictions for the next THETA innovation. During the hour-long discussion, we learned about the impact 360° technology has on each of the panelists’ personal and professional lives and just how passionate we can all be for the same handheld camera. Here are some of our key takeaways from the speakers:

Touring Virtually.

Virtual tours, according to Sam Rohn, have found a new place as an essential tool across industries including healthcare, museums, education, tourism, and more. With lockdowns and reduced capacities in indoor spaces, virtual tours have allowed people to enter otherwise inaccessible places during the lockdown to get their exploration fix, and even as part of their work.

<Sample 360 degree image for real estate>

Applications for Traditional Artists.

Artists like Chiara Masiero Sgrinzatto utilizes 360 photography to capture her subjects in high resolution for studying, as well as to provide a starting point for creating something new. This is especially helpful for landscape artists who can begin their creation on-site, photograph the location, and continue in the comfort of their home or workspace. Chiara herself has used this method to capture scenes from the rooftops of Venice, to the historic beach landings of Normandy and even her friend’s living room, which she then illustrates by hand to create interactive works of art.

Credit: Chiara Masiero Sgrinzatto

Up Close and Personal.

Studying the up-close qualities of a subject is where 360 cameras excel, according to Yuqing Guo, especially when reaching hard-to-get places with compact cameras like THETA 360 devices. But they don’t have to stop there. With the continued improvement of high-res cameras in everyday smartphones, he and many others are excited for the possibilities of one-shot 360 cameras with stronger, more detailed long-distance capabilities that will make the technology more accessible to the average phone and DSLR photographer.

Layering Landscapes.

For all the editing wizards and 360 camera urbanites living among busy streets, shooting clear city landscapes is still possible with a handful of shots and a little editing. Keith Martin shared his method of layering separate 360 shots, taken at different times according to the positioning of people and unwanted objects so that each layer can be removed from the finished product.

Cubical Perspective.

There are many innovative ways to alter reality and fix distortions within your 360 images, and Sam Rohn shared a parting gift in the form of editing advice – when removing a tripod, hand or any unwanted object from the top or bottom of your image, use the cubical perspective. However, any changes contained within the horizontal plane of the image can be dealt with in its equirectangular format.

To close out the roundtable discussion, RICOH THETA’s very own Shinobu Fujiki walked us through what’s next for THETA 360 cameras and the industry at large. Shinobu shared a handful of high-level details on the next model, which is still in early development, including improved ease-of-use and some expected additions to THETA camera functionality. With these small hints, you all can expect to hear more about the next generation of THETA 360 technology in the coming months.

To gain a fresh perspective on your surroundings, all you need to do is press the little shutter button on a THETA 360 camera. At our SXSW roundtable discussion, we gained a totally different perspective on how creative, innovative people unlock the best of THETA 360 cameras. We hope you all were able to check out the panel and gain this perspective for yourselves, and we look forward to seeing you at the next show to share all the latest in 360° camera innovation.