Tabletop Games in Lexington

It’s true that more people are playing Dungeons and Dragons and games like it than ever before. Role-playing games, or RPGs, have even seen a resurgence in the Lexington area. Within the city, there are about five stores that host game nights weekly.

Two Lexington gamers talk about their experiences and the community that has developed around these stores in this 360-degree video.

Video by McKenna Horsley

The importance of exposure in 360 video

In typical photography or video, creators have a lot of control over what their camera picks up. A key aspect that can help or hurt a final image is exposure.

With the field of virtual reality and 360 video expanding rapidly, it is important for budding videographers and photographers in this area to take care to properly expose the images they will capture.

Flattened 360 photos taken at different exposures with the RICOH Theta V.

For this tutorial, I will mostly talk about controlling exposure with the RICOH Theta V. This model is RICOH’s newest 360 camera and allows users to capture high-resolution photos and videos in 4K/30 fps. The Theta V retails for $399.95 and has some accessories, such as a spatial audio microphone, that can be bought separately. I believe that this camera is easy enough for beginners to use, but has enough quality for advanced videographers to use as well.

A videographer could manually control when the Theta V records, but he or she should download the mobile app the works with the camera. The app, called “Ricoh Theta S,” can be found for free on the App Store and the Google Play Store.  From the app, users can not only turn the camera on and off, but they can preview what the camera sees and adjust ISO, shutter speeds and white balance as needed. Theta V users should note that in order to adjust these setting, the camera must be connected to the phone over Wi-Fi.

A screenshot of what previewing an image looks like in the Theta S app.

To adjust the exposure, a camera operator needs to open the preview viewer within the app. From there, users can press “EV” in the lower left-hand corner and use the slider to allow more or less light into the camera. The shutter speed, ISO and white balance can also be fine-tuned from this screen.

According to 360Rumors, “the correct exposure is the one that shows a real world object at the same ‘brightness” as in real life.” The previous hyperlinked article, which also gives a pretty general overview about exposure itself, said that with most 360 cameras on the market, users have limited exposure control but these types of cameras also are less susceptible to getting the wrong exposure because it can evaluate the whole scene around the camera.

As someone who has just learned how to create 360 videos, I did not personally take exposure into account as I should have until was presented a challenge in my recent video that I made with classmate Paidin Dermody.

Last month, we decided to film the University of Kentucky’s MacAdam Student Observatory as a 360 video project. The facility is only open on clear nights, which does not allow for much light for starters. Also, some white fluorescent lights were also available within the observatory, but most of the research and study done within the observatory is completed under red lights, which allow person to preserve their night vision.

We wanted to be able to authentically capture this uncommon lighting, as we are both journalists and wanted to show what a typical experience is like in the observatory. Thus, we had to learn about controlling the settings on our camera while in the field.

Check out our final project below. It can also be viewed on


UK’s MacAdam Student Observatory

The MacAdam Student Observatory at the University of Kentucky opened for use in 2008. The building sits on top of Rose Street Parking Structure #2 across from William T. Young Library.

Photographer: Paidin Dermody
Editor: McKenna Horsley

UK class meets in virtual reality

McKenna Horsley using VTime for JOU 497 in the Kentucky Kernel office. Photo by Arden Barnes

Virtual reality may be a young field, but the possibilities for the platform are endless. One class at the University of Kentucky used the technology to meet in class rather than in its regular classroom.

Students in David Stephenson’s JOU 497 class, also known as virtual reality storytelling, met in groups on a VR chat social network called VTime to discuss their own VR projects for the class in early February.

Instead of meeting in their regular computer lab, students attended class in restaurants, their beds and even the Kentucky Kernel office. Stephenson met in chat rooms with two to three of members of the class at a time. He has taught previous sections of JOU 497 but this class was the first to meet virtually.

VTime is over two years old and allows users from across the world to meet in virtual chat rooms based on environments like an executive air jet or a campfire in the woods. As of now, the platform only allows for a total of four users to be in a room. VTime is available for iPhones for free. The app works with Google Cardboard viewers or similar VR viewers.

Aaron Porter, a student within the class, got on VTime while he was eating lunch with a friend. He enjoyed the experience because it showed that people can connect in the same space without actually occupying the same space. He said that VR opens up many new opportunities for education.

“You can have a class of thousands of people put them all in one class while a professor teaches it… There would be people all across the county—all across the world—that could see it,” Porter said.

Porter said that the class discussed ways VR can be applied to education. For example, some medical students at the University of California San Francisco are using VR in their classes to better understand anatomy and forgoing older methods such as cadavers and textbooks, according to the university’s website.

Today vTime turns two! We'd like to thank each and every one of you for being a part of our journey. Every idea,…

Posted by vTime on Friday, December 22, 2017

Savon Gray, another student within the class and Porter’s partner, said he liked being able to attend class from the comfort of his own bed. He liked switching between scenes, such as the banks of river in a forest and a space station. Gray said the experience seemed so real that he “could feel the water between my toes.” He could also see the body of his avatar, which added to the immersion.

He said the experience allows for a stronger connection in communication.

“It’s kind of like FaceTime, except for you are looking at your virtual person than your actual face,” he said.

Naliah Spencer, a student in JOU 497, uses VTime to meet with other students while she is in an office.

According to an article from Reality Technologies, social networks like Facebook are exploring VR-based forms of communication. The social media giant’s plans unveiled in 2016 used the Oculus Rift headset and allowed users to create their own avatars. The same article also mentions that Google is exploring ways to connect people within VR and that the company sees VR’s future is in immersing users both physically and emotionally.