360 Degrees

Ever find yourself viewing investigation footage and wondering just what the heck was going on behind the camera? I have, and once in awhile it drives me bananas. Even though my lens might pick up a 180 degree field of view, in many cases that’s only part of the space.

One such investigation included a fascinating purple and black mist which only appeared on video. It moved around the room, reacted to still camera flashes, changed color, varied in size, and then disappeared somewhere behind the camera. I thought I was doing the right thing by placing my device about a foot in front of the door and adjacent closet. So where did the mist go? Could it have disappeared into the closet or out the door? Your guess is as good as mine. It might have formed into a red-eyed devil, standing out of camera range giving us all a bunch of invisible demonic obscene gestures. Well, probably not, but if it did, I missed it.

I want to see everything in the room – all four corners, the floor, the ceiling… I want to see it all, dammit! But I can’t afford enough cameras to double up in every room or active area. It’s just not fair, is it? (Slight pause for righteous indignation.) But there is a solution. A 360 degree camera sees everything. You can put that bad boy in the middle of the room and nothing escapes it. If it was gonna show up on video; if it wanted to be seen, a 360 will happily oblige.

We’ve all seen the results of a 360. They’re used for virtual reality films. On computer or tablet, you can place your cursor in the middle of the screen and move throughout the frame taking in all areas and angles. When viewing 360 results in editing software, you find a panoramic-shaped video that reveals every last inch of the area in question. You don’t need a VR headset or cursor – it’s all right there in front of you. If Mr. Mist wants to run into the closet, you’ve got him. If he flies through the kitchen wall into the bedroom, you might also capture him from the bedroom cam, but either way, you’ve got the shot. That’s pretty cool beans, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, extremely high quality full spectrum 360 cams are fairly expensive, and you still have the problem of providing an infrared or full spectrum light source – possibly more than one depending on the size of the room. We’re paranormal investigators, not hedge fund managers, so investing in extremely expensive 360’s might deplete little Bobbie’s college fund. But there’s a solution to this as well. Turn on some light! By now you should know investigating does not require complete darkness. Lots of paranormal shenanigans occur in broad daylight, and a low light level has never stopped a spirit from talking or appearing.

There are several brands of 360 cameras available for $150 or less. Now, you gotta be careful because we’re not talking about baby cams or the dashboard variety – we’re talking about good quality cameras with a high enough resolution to do the job properly. I can’t resist offering a couple of names – fly360 and Samsung each have a small variety of models that record excellent video in low light. There are others. A little experimenting with light placement might be in order, but even so, the right video editing software will allow you to further lighten the room after the fact. You should be viewing your evidence with “real” software anyway, and the costs are not great for an adequate product. After all, you’re not making the great American film, you’re reviewing evidence.

“So great! How much stuff have you captured so far?” Well… Good paranormal video evidence is not an every day occurrence, but I’ve had surprising results on every camera I’ve ever used and in all kinds of lighting situations. My confidence level is high. So high, I’ve invested in three 360 cameras, just in case there’s a situation where visible light is in order. Until now, I’ve only actually used two at the same time during an investigation, but keep in mind, any deployment of a 360 cam will not remove the need for other methods. I still use an array of wide angle full spectrum cams, as well as trail cameras, thermal attachments, still cameras, and monoculars that record. But adding 360 degree capability to the arsenal of any investigation seems like a no-brainer to me. Plus, it improves your opportunity to be creative and thorough. I recommend it.

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“There Is No Silence” by Randall Keller. On Amazon. http://t.co/lKo9kyuHOF

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