Horsing Around with Virtual Reality – Part 1

I know virtually nothing about virtual reality, which is why I wanted to try out the Nikon KeyMission 360 camera. I thought I’d share with you my first attempt and 360-degree video documentation including the fumbles, foibles, trials and errors. In the end, I managed to capture viewable, sharable video. It’s not Earth shattering, but now I have a better understanding of how it all works. That’s the point; one must start somewhere.


I established what I wanted to document – a horse drawn wagon ride by yours truly. You see I have a horse that I’ve trained to pull a small wagon. Horses are a bit of a passion for me. Actually, if I’m being honest, it’s an obsession. Nonetheless, I thought it would be neat to record a 360-degree view of my horse, Sir Prize, in action. Only after I decided this as my subject did I realize how complicated it could be to operate both the Nikon KeyMission 360 camera a horse-drawn vehicle simultaneously.


Sir Prize looks at me puzzled as I begin to assemble the Super Clamp, Magic Arm and Nikon KeyMission 360. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall

Before recording any video footage, I needed to prepare my equipment. The Nikon KeyMission 360 camera settings can be easily adjusted from my computer in Nikon’s proprietary KeyMission 360 Utility Software. I simply attached the camera to my computer with the micro USB provided and changed the settings to my desired capture preferences.


After adjusting the camera settings, I studied the Nikon KeyMission 360 camera and mounting systems to determine the best way to attach the camera to my horse. My first thought was to attach the camera to the horse’s harness. The most stable part of which sits at the withers where the neck meets the back. Having the camera in this position offered a number of visual obstructions, namely the horse’s head.

While Nikon offers a variety of mounting accessories for the camera, none of them seemed to be the right fit for this particular shoot. Instead, I turned to my gear closet for other solutions.

Sir Prize is harnessed and ready to be hitched to the wagon. Attached to his harness is the Super Clamp and Magic Arm which will be used to support the Nikon KeyMission 360 camera. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall

In order to provide a clear view over my horse’s head, I had to get the camera away from his body. The Manfrotto 143A Magic Arm offered adequate distance. Plus I could use the Magic Arm in conjunction with the Super Clamp, thus allowing me to attach the Magic Arm to the harnessing on the horse’s back. I used a standard stud to connect the Magic Arm to the XPRO Ball Head, which connected and supported the Nikon KeyMission 360.

A standard stud is used to attach the XPRO Ball Head to the Magic Arm. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall

Apparently I overlooked one thing – safety lanyards. I have a number of steel safety cables in my gear closet, but I’d forgotten to pack a few. In a pinch, I used a horse bucket strap to provide secondary securing measures of the Magic Arm. If it had come loose, or broke away from the harness, the lanyard would keep it from falling to the ground or injuring my horse. In addition to that, I used pads of fleece between the Magic Arm and my horse’s body to ensure my horse’s comfort during the drive.


A horse bucket strap is used in lieu of a steel safety cable. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall
Fleece padding is placed between my horse’s body and the Super Clamp to prevent rubbing or bruising. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall

Once harnessed, assembled and hitched, we were nearly ready for our 360-degree video voyage. The last step was getting the Nikon KeyMission 360 recording. It was quiet simple to operate. It literally has just one button on the top of the camera to start and stop recording.

Inside the flip-open door is where the micro SD card slot is, along with the switch to turn on and off the camera’s Wi-Fi capability. The Wi-Fi transmission allows you to sync the camera with your smart device and operate the camera remotely. However, I opted not to use my phone and the Nikon SnapBridge application for my first time out. I went analogue and pressed the big red record button before climbing into the wagon.

The Nikon KeyMission 360 camera is secured to my horse’s harness using a Super Clamp and Magic arm in preparation for a short drive down the road. Photo by Stacy L. Pearsall

As you can imagine, the video was a disaster. Monkey-cam. That’s the best way to describe it. All of the motion from my horse’s body was transferred through the support system to the camera. It was a dumb, beginner’s error. I thought it would be bumpy, but I underestimated just how chaotic the video would appear.

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In case you were wondering how I got the footage from the camera to my computer, I used a micro SD card adapter to insert into my MacBook Air’s SD card slot and downloaded the video file directly to my desktop in a neatly organized folder titled, “170329-SLP-KeyMission.” From there, I processed the MP4 file in Adobe Premiere Pro CC because it has 360 video editing and export capabilities. Then I uploaded the video to my YouTube channel. Don’t worry, I’ll explain this in more detail next time, so stay tuned for Part 2 of the “Horsing Around with Virtual Reality” Series. Part 2 is when I use the lessons I learned from my first attempt at 360 video and make improvements. I use my smartphone to connect with the camera via Wi-Fi and remotely capture video from four separate positions from the wagon while in motion. I also discuss Adobe Premiere Pro CC 360 video editing and exporting as well as YouTube 360 video uploading. More to come!


*Manufactured under licence
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