When embarking on an exercise to create your first module in HazID, it is important that a few considerations be made in planning for the photos that you will be taking.
Selecting the right 360° camera
The main features to focus on when choosing which 360° camera to buy are the ones that ensure the camera takes clear, high quality 360° image and video that looks great on a VR headset within the HazID application. With that in mind, here are the features you should focus on:
Image and Video Resolution – 360° media requires very high resolution to match the HD quality of normal images and video. A good 360° camera should be able to produce 4K video resolution or higher, and images that are at least 15 megapixels. Cameras with specifications lower than this may produce grainy, blurry and/or unclear images which are not suitable to represent the environment being used to create the training module.
User friendly – Is the camera easy to pick up and use, does it have a stable app and how to you control the camera? Good hardware needs to be backed up by equally good software. Given that you may be using the camera in more challenging environments to capture hazards, its recommended to check to see if it is waterproof and/or dust proof or if it has any accessories such as a protective case.
Stitching – 360° degree photos and videos are created by stitching two or more images together using multiple lenses. A good 360° camera should either be able stitch images automatically within the camera software or on a accompanying phone app. You should also look out for the quality of the stitching. You want to minimize any obvious lines where the two images meet; you can check this by watching 360° videos taken by each camera and seeing if the line where the two images meet is obvious.
Stabilization – If you intend to use your 360° camera while moving, then software stabilization is a must. Some 360° cameras have awesome stabilization software that can smooth out most bumps and vibrations.
Placing the camera on a tripod
It is highly recommended that the 360 camera be mounted on a light stand or tripod so that it can be placed in a stable position within the environment that is being captured. The height of the camera should be set to 6 or 7 feet, representing the average height of a standing person.
This is important as this will be the relative position from which you will view the image within the headset. Too high and it will feel like you are much taller than normal in VR; too low and you will feel like you are viewing the scene from the perspective of an animal or ant.
Dark and poorly-lit conditions in an environment can make using a 360 camera difficult. Unlike traditional point-and-shoot cameras, a 360 camera needs light that shines in all directions simultaneously. Try as much as possible to select areas that are well lit for image capturing. You can also often adjust the exposure and brightness settings on the camera companion app that will help improve image quality in these conditions.
Getting a good shot
Placement of the tripod within the environment is key - Attempt to place the tripod as close to the Point/s of Interest (POI) as possible in order to get the highest fidelity photo, whilst also being cognizant that the photo is being taken from a reasonable and safe location. If the photo is taken from too far away, the POI may not look clear in in the the VR headset.
Attempt to remove yourself from the scene - Use the remote Bluetooth shutter function on the mobile app to allow yourself to leave or hide in the scene when taking the photo. Given that the photo is taken in all directions, you would want to make sure that the scene is as representative of reality as possible.
Set up a scenario - Use the opportunity of taking the photos to set up hazards in your environment. For example, you may want to highlight slip and fall hazards by making sure there is water on the ground or objects in the walkway. Note: it's important to remember to remove the hazards once the photo has been taken.
It's often very exciting to begin taking photos and we recommend that you take multiple photos from various angles so that you have multiple shots to choose from when creating your HazID module.
Having said this, it is very easy to forget what was planned when reviewing the images at a later stage. It is useful to note down the time and date when the photo was taken, as well as to document which hazards were present and ideas for questions.
This will prove immensely helpful to support you when creating your HazID module.