Millersport OH – 360° VR Tour

I had them set to publish one each day, but there’s no sense in just having them sitting there waiting. I mean, it’s not like there’s a bunch of folks who are sitting on their computer each day, eagerly awaiting the next video’s release. 😏🤦🏻‍♂️ So here’s the whole lot of Millersport 360 degree videos that I did over the past week. It’s a tiny little town, but hopefully a few people familiar with the area will stumble across these videos.

I’m not sure if the embedded video above will let you go through and select which particular area you wanna look at, so here’s the link to the playlist that will open in YouTube – and it has the videos listed there individually, along with the thumbnails which show what area is covered. 🙂

(And upon checking a couple of them just now, it seems that the audio swaps might not be completed for every video. So you might get crappy wind noise instead of soothing, royalty-free music from YouTube’s stock music library. 😏🤷🏻‍♂️ And as always, for the best experience, make sure you switch it to the highest resolution your device can handle.)

A Normal Entry

Figured I better go ahead and make a “normal” entry after barfing out the entry below this one. 😏 I ordered a neodymium magnet from Amazon and it arrived yesterday. It’s stated function is to tie to the included rope, so you can toss it into lakes, ponds, creeks – and hopefully pull out some magnetic goodies. 😯😃 But since it had a removable hoop screw in the middle of it, that allowed me to replace it with a 1/4″ – 20 – 1 1/2″ screw to serve as a camera mount. 🤓📷

I’ve been using a similar sized magnetic mount to record the 360 videos, and it seemed like it would still hold at speeds of about 45 mph, but it was one of those old school traditional magnets – and this new one definitely has more staying power than the former. 🧲 But I went ahead semi-permanently attached the “tripod screw” to the flat neodymium disc with the hole in the center, so once the weather breaks all I have to do is give it a quick test to see how much better (or not) it will be. 🤷🏻‍♂️

It wasn’t something I needed to do, but I just wanted to have something “fun” to mess around with, to help me get my mind off of a bunch of other stuff. 😒 And even though I’ve got it assembled how I want now, I did have a few different sized screws as well as a plastic tube that I was considering sanding into a shorter 3″ mount. It’s hard to explain without pics, but right now I attach the 360 camera to the magnet mount while it’s on a heavy duty selfie stick. When that stick is collapsed it’s about 10″ tall, so it does create a decent amount of wind resistance as speeds increase. 😳🌬️ So the shorter one with less wind resistance was a thought, but for now I’m just gonna go with the easier “magnet with a screw sticking out the top” method. 😎

You know how it is though… always nice to have some goofy little hobby thing to dick around with. 😊

Might Be A Good Night

I’m not sure if this is going to become a trend, but yesterday I fell asleep around 6pm and slept all the way through to 6am this morning… and now this evening I fell asleep at 6pm again, although this time it was just a nap – and I woke up just after the sun had set. Noticing that the sky looked super clear, I grabbed my phone off the charger and threw it outside for another time-lapse video.

I’m using the same settings as the most recent video, 1 second exposure, 2000-ish ISO, and 60 seconds of enhanced light retention… and I’m going to render it out at 4k 30fps and 4k 60fps. Some devices will be able to play the 60fps video from YouTube, but older devices might still play it at a standard 30fps while just dropping every other frame to keep the speed increase. Meh… just little different things I can mess with in the process, so we’ll see what I turn up tonight. Looks good though, with minimal city light, and no moonlight at the moment…

If I’m lucky enough to have a clear sky again tomorrow, that’ll be when I switch to the wide angle lens and go back to traditional long exposure with no digital light retention. I think I’m gonna do 10 second exposures at around 1000 ISO, and then I’ll have to compile all of those high resolution images into a video. The app I use for that will only output 1080p, but if I can figure out how to get iMovie to batch change the frame duration for thousands of images, with at least .1 second as an option, then I might be able to output at 4K.

But this will be the first night that I’m awake enough to probably be able to let the phone sit out there, shooting, until the battery runs down… or perhaps until I run out of room for storage. 🤔 I didn’t think about that until just now. Not only do I need to not run out of room for the shots, but I also need to allow enough storage for those shots to be rendered out to video. I can do the 30fps, upload it, then delete it to make space for the 60fps one… or vice versa. Anyway… I’ve got some stuff goin’ on tonight as long as those clouds stay away. 😏👍🏻 Plus I smell a bonfire and can hear a band playing somewhere off in the distance toward the east. I’m wondering if there might be a party of some type over at the fire station on the outskirts of town.

Another Method

My previous time-lapse video of the stars was meant to not only capture them in a way that showed obvious motion, but also to capture the background “dust” of stars along with the brighter, more prominent ones. This also had the side effect of really illuminating any clouds that passed by, plus any airplanes or shooting stars that went through the frame were so quick that they were difficult to notice. That video and method did what I intended, but last night I decided to do something different.

You’ll need to turn your brightness all the way up, and possibly wait until your room is mostly dark, in order to see what I ended up capturing. It doesn’t help that YouTube’s compression has filled the video with artifacts and essentially erased many of the dimmer stars, but you can still see what I was going for.

(Expand to full screen, switch to 4K, and maybe drop the speed by 50% for best results.)

Last night I shot each frame of video as a 4k, one second exposure, with the highest ISO that the iPhone 11 allowed. That on its own wouldn’t really do the trick, so I also applied a method of shooting that artificially extended the brightness of anything that moved through the frame. With an additional 30 seconds of “light retention” it allows a time-lapse video to be played at 30 frames per second, resulting in “enhanced” light that follows the original object in real-time for one second.

That allows the much higher resolution time-lapse video to move at a pretty good clip, while still making any moving object much more obvious to the eye. And in this video you’ll see several airplanes, which are unmistakable as they travel across most of the frame – however you’ll also see shorter, and possibly quicker, streaks of light that only happen in a small portion of the view, which are quite likely “shooting stars” from the Perseid meteor showers that are happening over a few days right now.

I like how the airplanes look, so I think tonight I’ll start shooting one of these videos before it even gets dark dark… hopefully catching a few more planes as they pass by, since not only am I already in a low traffic area, but the later it gets, the fewer flights that will be passing overhead. I’m also going to increase the enhanced light, doubling what I was doing last night, so we’ll see how it turns out. I’ll probably have to also adjust the brightness and contrast of the resulting video, something that I also did for last night’s video, but I think it’ll end up being another unique looking video shot from here at the fortress of solitude.

More Moon Stuff

Making a a little more progress with the $99 digital camcorder with the stupid good zoom… 😏 with its only major drawbacks being the purple fringe around some things in certain conditions, the lack of 4k resolution, and then of course the more you zoom the softer the image looks. 😒 I thought I had the focus as sharp as I could get it, but I’m thinking that there may have been a haze that was also affecting the output video. Might try again tonight, probably just full-zoom stuff, since the time-lapse in the beginning here is pretty meh.

(Make sure this is set to play in HD, full-screen, for the best results.)

Since the moon was lighting up the clouds, I did some more fiddling with the phone to get the brightest exposure possible (while still using only a 1/3 sec shutter speed) and I was gonna get a much faster time-lapse of the clouds out back… but of course they cleared up shortly after I started recording. However, you’ll notice a couple stars bright enough to be picked up, so I’m hoping that on a clear, moonless night I might be able to capture the rotation of the earth in the movement of the stars with this new method. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤓 Will have to wait a couple weeks to give that a shot, but even though the video’s overall speed is too slow – you should still be able to see that there’s some movement in the stars.

Addendum

Speaking of going to a different school in junior high… I’m not sure why this popped into my head, as it’s something I haven’t thought of for decades probably, but all the talk about vintage computers apparently sparked another hidden memory.

While the school in general did have several C64 computers, mostly in the library, I was also part of a small selection of students that were chosen for what they called “Computer Lab” … a small room full of Apple II computers. 🙄🤷🏻‍♂️😏 I just remember how awful they seemed compared to the Commodore computers… with The Oregon Trail running on both for comparison. 😅 No contest.

Their computer lab with all the Apple computers also served as a room for a typing class later in the afternoon, but I knew that after we left the room was empty – and only the teacher would be in there doing whatever it was that she did with her free time. 😏 Everyone else in the class had basically zero computer experience, although they were the smarter kids in my grade. 🤓 Me, at least I had poked around on my own VIC-20 at home, and then the C64s in the library… so… I had learned a little bit of BASIC. 😎

I actually helped some of the other kids in the class at times, so it wasn’t odd that I’d be away from my own computer and messing with someone else’s, and that made me realize that I could pull off a pretty good prank. For a nerd, anyway… 🙄🤷🏻‍♂️😏 I mean, we were learning to code, so…

You could turn off the monitors while leaving the actual computers on, so… and unfortunately I don’t remember the exact details about this… but somehow I was able to go around to each Apple II in the room and quickly type in a program. There were probably only a dozen computers, and they were situated against three walls of this small square room, just so you can mentally picture it…

But I was able to bang out this little BASIC program on each of the computers right before class ended, as we were all finishing up and supposed to be getting ready to go to our next class. Apple computers only had an annoying beep generator in them, but that was perfect for my prank. 🤡 I think it wasn’t even more than four lines… telling the computer to wait a certain amount of time, ten minutes in this case, and then start rapidly beeping until someone stopped the program. 😁

(I mean, this is a demo created in 2015 and listen how bad even it is… heh)

It’s so weird though… because I’m sure that it worked… which meant that ten minutes after we left, one computer would start beeping – and then in about 10 seconds the next one, and the one after that in ten more seconds… until all of the computers were either beeping all at once or the teacher would be tracking around the room, killing the programs as they started. 😋 But it’s strange because the next day – even though I anticipated getting in some kind of trouble – the teacher didn’t even mention it, didn’t change anything about what we did… it was just strange. 🤔🤷🏻‍♂️

Well played, teacher… 😏 pretend like I didn’t just school you with my junior high BASIC programming knowledge and I’ll pretend like I didn’t do it. 😄 Hell, maybe she was impressed. 🤷🏻‍♂️ I’m pretty sure she knew who did it though… none of those other shlubs had any idea of what they were doing yet. 😁

More Nostalgia

I live in the past more than I probably should, but the past day or two have been nice… old memories being brought back to life as I texted back and forth with Dad last night. 🙂 I can’t even remember how we got on the subject, but around my junior high years we moved to a house in the country – significantly different in almost every way from our former place, and of course with me going to a new school. 😳

Oh, I remember… we were talking about all of our various kitties over the years. And while living out on the hill, the strays apparently came with the house. 😏 But because they weren’t really pet pets, and I don’t say that to belittle their worth in any way, but between that and me being rather young – I had forgotten a lot about them. 😟 But once Dad mentioned their names, all these memories instantly popped back into my head. Weird how the brain can have stuff stored away that well, where you can’t even access it by just trying – but an outside influence can provide the key. 🤔🤷🏻‍♂️🙂

But yeah, memories of the outside kitties, memories of the bus driver forgetting that a new kid now lived in that house – and therefore blowing past me as I stood in the dark, in the snow… 😄 I remember more about the bus rides and the time spent with my couple of good friends at that new school than I do about the time actually in school. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Moving was a pretty big deal, so it was nice to go back to the town where I originally started school eventually. But another pretty kewl memory… getting a portable little B/W TV one Christmas, that I could take in my bedroom to watch broadcast TV at night as I went to sleep. (Man… I’m old… lol) I’m not sure if I was supposed to be watching TV, but yeah…

Then I wake up today, start clicking around through YouTube on the TV, and they suggested a video from 8-Bit Guy about the new “The C64” full sized Commodore 64 replica / emulator with functional keyboard. 😃 My first computer was a VIC-20 that Dad and I got at Hamvention. I can’t remember how much it was, but I feel like it was pretty reasonable… a big box full of VIC shit along with the computer. 🤓 No disk drive yet, but then later on I upgraded along the Commodore path to the C64 with a 1541-II drive – as did my cousin – which lead to lots of “freeware” copying with him and friends. 🤫😄

But of course since that was such a big part of my childhood, seeing this thing instantly made me want it. 🤤

Believe it or not, I had actually already ordered one from these folks years ago. They had a crowdfunding thing going on, but then they decided to produce The C64 Mini first due to the then-fad of “mini” game consoles being released. It was probably the right move, at least to fill their bank accounts, but it delayed the full sized version – so I requested and got a refund. 😕 Since then I’ve gotten the Mini though, and now, years after it was due to come out, it looks like I’ll eventually be getting a full-sized version as well. 😏🤷🏻‍♂️ I can use the excuse that the audio and video lag on the full sized version is less than the Mini, so not only will it be nice to have the keyboard – but technically there is a performance improvement since they’ve optimized the emulator code. (Not to mention double the USB ports, which is a bigger deal than you’d think.)

Not sure why they didn’t go the FPGA route, but it looks good enough for me.

Latest Animation Rendering

Well, here’s the finished product. I’m pleased with it… all of the added touches are there to be seen – it’s just a shame that animation is sort of an afterthought with this modeling program, so the camera movements are a bit jerky and unnatural looking. But for anyone who had visited this house prior to me moving in, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty faithful to the original… particularly the living room. 🙂

These are the things that I believe I’ve improved since I made the first animation:

  • Fixed paint colors, correcting walls and making the ceilings white
  • Adjusted color and texture of all the doors
  • Updated the textures of the floors for more natural hardwood look
  • Changed sizes (particularly in the bedroom) of furniture for more accurate scale
  • Added lamp, clock, and ceiling fan w/light in bedroom
  • Added lighting, shower curtain, curtain, and changed bathtub/fixtures in bathroom
  • Also added more accurate texture for vinyl flooring and shower tiles in the bathroom
  • Picture window changed to wood w/more accurate sheer curtains in living room
  • Changed lamp on round table and square coffee table changed to oval in living room
  • End table lamps changed / now functioning, cuckoo clock now present in living room
  • Console record player under big mirror changed, vase/flower and newspaper added

In each room I also tweaked all sorts of things when it comes to object shading, colors, levels of reflection (matte/glossy), and lighting levels (spot/ambient) in a way that I think makes the whole thing look slightly closer to realistic and accurate to the way things were here in the past. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things that I changed or adjusted, but yeah… there ya go. 😏

Oh, and I know – both times that I’ve created one of these animations, it’s been done where the house is assumed to be lit by dawn / pre-dawn light. I do that because I prefer to see how the internal man-made illumination sources and shadows are handled by the program, although I suppose one day I could render it out in broad daylight with fake ceiling lights (just a source light w/no visible fixtures) being activated in every room. 🤷🏻‍♂️