Traveling in a new city to explore and experience what makes it unique can be an exciting but expensive hobby. Therefore, I decided to challenge myself and drive to Cincinnati on budget. With only $30 in my pocket, I went to discover what the city had to offer. Is traveling a luxury solely for the high society or can it be an inexpensive pass-time for the common folk as well?
The video captures the Cliff Diving World Series, an annual event sponsored by Red Bull. The 2017 event took place in Polignano a Mare, Italy bringing in over 70,000 spectators to watch divers from across the world plummet over 88 feet into the Adriatic Sea. The city is usually home to no more than 16,000, making the event one of Polignano a Mare’s biggest tourist attractions. The platforms are 3 times the Olympic standard hight, located just outside a random citizen’s yearly home.
The cliffs of Polignano a Mare are absolutely stunning in 360, every direction there is something breathtaking to look at. From the architecture of the surrounding city, the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea, or the large crowds of spectators watching in the distance, it would be difficult to find something uninteresting to look at. The location is not only perfect for the event itself but for capturing a captivating landscape of a city most will never have the pleasure of visiting.
Each shot felt thought out and meticulously executed, using various techniques to capture the event in creative and engaging ways. A drone is used to get most, if not every shot within the length of the video. The drone effectively showcases the enormous scale of the cliffs, using panning shots which rise from the water to the top of platforms. The most impressive shot gives a first-person perspective of the death-defying dive, letting you freefall through the air and into the water below. While your fear of heights may be tested, I never felt lost or disoriented during the experience.
The video is a mixture of natural sound and music. The sound works best when you can hear the wind, the distant cheers of the crowd, or the water splash upon impact of the dive. The music added feels like an afterthought. It works as a means to fill in blank space when a moment may have seemed too quiet to the editor. Using the cookie cutter rock song captures a very generalized adventurous emotion, but pales in comparison to what is being shown on screen. My problem is less with the choice of adding music and more with the music chosen. The music should’ve just been used a backdrop to the natural sound. Natural sounds increase the immersion for the virtual reality experience, the only thing I feel this video was truly lacking.
The video clocks in at 2 minutes and 4 seconds, noticeably short, but they use the amount of time very effectively. The video is so interesting and fun to watch that the fact it’s short-lived is too a fault – but I suppose that’s a good problem to have if any. I think the video could’ve benefited from an additional minute of runtime by including some footage of preparation before the dive to build anticipation for when they make the initial leap. While this would’ve been a nice addition, its lack of inclusion isn’t that detrimental to the enjoyment of the video.
Despite the small flaws that I had with video, ultimately this is one of my favorite VR experiences I’ve seen on the YouTube platform. While the location would be incredible to capture on its own, the included context of the Cliff Diving World Series makes it an even more interesting story for 360.
In the search of acquiring an affordable and functional VR headset I came across a pair listed on Amazon for a meager $21.99. Normally a price this low would leave me feeling skeptical when it comes to buying a product like this, but surprisingly enough the customer reviews were overwhelmingly positive. I hesitantly decided to put my faith in the favorable online reviews and purchased the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles. After about a month of casual use, the goggles have proven to be a decent introductory headset with a handful of limitations.
Using the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles is fairly straightforward. First you remove the detachable cover from the goggles exposing the elastic band. Once you have your video chosen, you strap your phone up using the band and put the detachable cover back onto the goggles. Put the goggles over your head and use the dial on top of the device to adjust the pupil distance to whatever looks best to the viewer. Adjust the straps accordingly to fit your head and you’re ready to go.
The most appealing selling factor for HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles is its inexpensive price tag. For just under $22, it’ll be difficult to find another VR headset that affordable that isn’t cardboard. It’s a great way to try out VR without feeling financially strained for doing so.
The Build Quality
Despite the low price point, these goggles are still made somewhat well. The headset is only made up of three separate pieces, one being the goggles itself, the straps to keep the goggles on your head and the hard plastic cover that’ll rest over your phone when in use. The frame is mostly made of a light plastic that feels durable enough to support normal amounts of use. Though trying to put the goggles through any conditions rougher than that might result in unwanted damage. The surface of the goggles is wrapped in a cloth-like fabric which is a strange choice for VR goggles, but doesn’t have any adverse effects because of it. The straps aren’t luxurious, but serve their purpose and can be adjusted to fit you best. A comfortable plush fabric lines where you view through the goggles making them pretty comfortable to use. The headset also comes with a small dial on-top of the headset letting you adjust the pupil distance according to what looks best for the viewer.
The Detachable Cover & Elastic Band
The aspect which led to the most trouble when using the HAMSWAN Virtual Reality Goggles was having to take off and put back on the detachable cover and remove the elastic band after every use. It’s a time consuming roadblock that comes after ever video you watch, making you spend nearly as much time taking out the phone and readjusting as you will actually spend using VR. This can make the experience less immersive for the viewer due to the several intermissions one has to take to make this adjustment.
Even when streaming in 4K and using the adjustable pupil distance, the focus still has a slight gaussian blur effect that can become a slight distraction. It isn’t deal a breaking flaw, but defiantly an aspect which could be improved upon.
While these goggles may lack certain luxuries like a remote controller or perfect focus, they are a solid introductory headset for those looking for a simple and casual experience. While improvements to the design could be made, it’s hard to complain too much with such a reasonable price.
Come and explore the Kentucky Equine Humane Center, the largest all-breed rescue horse facility in the state! Look around the beautiful farmland scenery in 360 degrees as you meet several of the amazing horses up close and personal. Listen as you wander your eyes and you’ll learn all about the ins-and-outs of this incredible establishment.