Using 360º Video for Immersive TED Talks

As a digital enthusiast, I spent my undergraduate time studying electronic music with Professor Joel Chadabe. Since 1997 I followed advancements in technology via the TED conference, which at the time was a private and invitation-only event for industry leaders. More recently, in 2014 I began producing my own franchise of TED, under the brand TEDxFultonStreet.

While I still think “flat” 19th-century-style moving pictures have potential for vintage nostalgia, I’m mostly unimpressed. Sure, it’s now possible to produce video with resolutions of 4k, 5k, 8k pixels on the long axis. CCD sensors have higher-ISO sensitivity and much wider dynamic range than just a few years ago, and even ordinary cameras offer frame rates of 60, 90, 120fps at high resolution. Even my phone will shoot 240fps at HD720p. But flat is flat.

To me, the immersive possibilities of VR and 360º video are far more interesting than anything confined to two dimensions.

A still 360º image of the NYC World Trade Center - from Unpresidented Unity

A still 360º image of the NYC World Trade Center – from Unpresidented Unity

When it works, the feeling of being transported – and the feeling of intimacy with the subjects – simply cannot be paralleled in flat media.

The artform is nascent. The hardware is awkward; products re-purposed from their originally intended uses, and often held together literally by duct tape or experimental designs traded over the internet and manufactured on 3d printers. The software barely works, and much of it was released before documentation could be written. The best way to learn is by watching YouTube tutorials from pioneers who are doing their best to share their discoveries and best practices. (My channel is at bit.ly/360tips). Most of the creative output people are making in 360º is terrible, and a lot of it creates nausea. (Not merely aesthetic revulsion, but actual physiological vertigo as a side-effect of spatial disorientation.)

So of course this is what I love.


My team and I work with brand-new equipment that’s overpriced and often fails, using undocumented software or tools meant for other purposes, attempting to create compelling storytelling using a medium which does not yet have norms. And viewers will literally vomit if we do a bad job.

If you’re reading this website, then maybe we’re members of the same tribe… addicts drawn by the allure of uncharted territory, the “next thing”, because we see the shining promise of what it could be.

My most recent TEDxFultonStreet event was a salon exploring the theme of “Things You Can’t Have”, and it featured some unusual presenters: One woman makes paintings and sculpture using real nuclear weapons. A man has created a new non-government currency based on diamonds. A woman creates the most exclusive nightclubs in the world, where even billionaires are sometimes not allowed in. And more.

To create a 3-minute recap of the event, my team and I created a 360º video. (For the techies, our “stack” was 4x Kodak PixPro360 4k, Autopano Video Pro, AutoPano Giga, Mettle Skybox 360VR, and Adobe Premiere Pro.) We outsourced some of the stitching and post-production to Overnight360Post.com.


If you don’t have VR Goggles, then for best results, view this on your smartphone!

3-minute recap: bit.ly/txf2016recap360

TEDxFultonStreet Salon 2016 - 360º Video Recap

TEDxFultonStreet Salon 2016 – 360º Video Recap

In addition, we created individual 360º interviews with all of our presenters, which you can view at txf2016interviews360

And if you’re looking for the complete TED Talks, they can be seen on flat media at: bit.ly/txf2016presenters


“Unpresidented Unity” [sic]

After the 2016 election, I was very concerned with the rise in hate-crimes (a 400% increase in New York City, according to Mayor de Blasio). Regardless of how anyone voted, I know that bigotry is not on the agenda of most New Yorkers. So I was obsessed with the question of, “what can we do, as New Yorkers who welcome all types of people, to counteract the rise in discrimination and agression?” To explore that, I met with six former TEDxFultonStreet speakers, and each had some interesting perspectives to share.

The 10-minute 360º piece is here: bit.ly/u-unity

Unpresidented Unity - #resist #racism and #xenophobia, interviews in 360º

Unpresidented Unity – #resist #racism and #xenophobia, interviews in 360º

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