Make your own Mini EYE™ 360 Camera

It seems like only yesterday that we were first getting our feet wet with the Blackmagic micro cameras, and working out how to build professional 360 and VR cameras around them.

The past 18 months has been a wild ride, but in that time we’ve learned a lot about these lovely little cameras, and most crucially… just how good they are for shooting professional 360 video.

We’ve built over fifty VR and 360 camera rigs using these cameras in the past year, with up to 42 cameras in a single rig, adding up to more than 300 Blackmagic micro cameras in total. Never once have we had a micro camera fail on us. The thought of using that many GoPro’s gives us shudders.

More than their reliability however, is the color science, picture quality and cinematic-grade product, that is Blackmagic Design, which cannot be beat at close to the cost. Our Blackmagic rigs have been compared favorably to RED rigs, by leading RED cinematographers, are better image quality than Nokia Ozo, and are much smaller, easier to work with, and a fraction of the cost of both.

Having the same modularity which GoPro’s offer, arguably their best feature, is what attracted us to the Blackmagics in the first place. They are basically “pro” GoPro’s, with the crucial additional features you need – genlock, all locking pro-grade connections, designed to run indefinitely in use, 10 bit color, RAW recording capability, lens changing capability… and more…, that take your confidence, capabilities and end product beyond what the other cameras can offer you.

We wanted to bring that capability to a wider audience and provide a lower entry level for those looking to own the most desired 360 camera in the world.

With the instructions below, you can now get started with Mini EYE™… for under $7,000, around half the cost of a full Mini EYE™ package.


Professional 360 Camera - Mini EYE 4

How to make your own Mini EYE™

There are 4 basic components to a professional 360 camera rig:

  1. Rig frame
  2. Cameras
  3. Lenses
  4. Power and support equipment

The challenge with making a compact rig is power. Batteries are big, and they heat up and cause problems. Heat is actually the greatest challenge of all, with any kind of small cameras operating at high resolutions, and is why GoPro’s are ultimately so unreliable. They have poor heat management.

The Blackmagic Micro cameras have built-in active cooling, i.e a fan, which is silent, and this combined with smart heat piping, whisks the heat away from the sensor making it reliable.

When we set out to build a modular 360 camera rig, we realized we had to separate the batteries in a convenient way, and find a way to supply the all-important genlock timing signals, with the minimum of fuss.

We came up with Mini EYE™, and later Mini EYE™ Monopod, a systemic approach to modularity that makes adapting the rig very easy.

360 Camera for Professionals - Mini EYE 3


Complete list of Mini EYE™ Components

We now offer all of the parts to build a Mini EYE camera yourself. This means you can focus on what’s important to you now, and have the option to upgrade components later. The list below is designed to help you research the parts you need, with relevant links.


Rig Frame Parts

360 Rig Frame

It all starts with the rig frame. Options include our attractive aluminum rig frame, a 3D print your own rig frame, or DIY options such as cheeseplate.

Mini EYE Camera Mount Kit
Camera Mounts

These come with the aluminum frame, can be purchased separately for the 3D print your own kit, and are typically not suited for DIY projects.

Mini EYE™ 4 3D Printer Accessory Kit
Rubber Lid and Tripod mount

These come with the CNC frame, can be purchased separately for the 3D print your own kit, and are typically not suited for DIY projects.



Blackmagic 360 Camera Starter Kit for VR - 4 Cameras. Make your own 360 camera.
Blackmagic Micro Cinema Cameras

The Blackmagic micro cinema cameras offer the convenience of internal recording, 13 stops of dynamic range, and cinematic picture quality, in resolutions up to 3k (stitched).

Blackmagic Micro Studio Cameras 4k

The Blackmagic micro studio cameras offer very high resolution 360 video (6k), and are also especially suited for live 360 use with their locking broadcast-grade SDI connectors. External recorders are typically required.



Mini EYE is Back!
Mini EYE™ Camera and Lens Starter Kit

We do not sell lenses individually but do now offer a very convenient Mini EYE™ Camera and Lens Starter Kit which includes cameras, and the lenses which are professionally calibrated and matched to each camera. This is the minimum you need to make your own Mini EYE™ camera, if you can make your own rig frame.

Bring your own

Bring your own… although you will miss out on our lovely lens barrels


Power and Support Equipment

3 Camera J-Box v3
Centralized Power System (AC adapter or Batteries)

Build your own 12v power supply system using breakout cables or AC adapters – these are included with our Starter Kit – or much neater is to use our J-Box (includes single ‘system’ AC adapter brick plus a D-Tap lead – to add the professional battery of your choice).

Camera Cables

If you are using our J-Box, you will want to pick up some of our excellent hand-made camera cables

Sync Generator

To add genlock, we recommend our Genlock Kit, which includes a custom power cable to power the sync generator off the J-Box, which in turn works with our camera cables to provide power and sync to each camera in a single cable

Sync Cable Genlock Cable
Sync cables

If adding genlock, you will want between 1 to 3 genlock cables depending which J-Box you use. Those using breakout cables to power their rig may need longer genlock cables, and either 3 or 4 of them.

Mini SDI DIN 1.0/2.3 Adapter cables
4k Mini SDI adapter tails

You need these handy adapters to take the 4K SDI output of the Micro Studio cameras and convert it to full size BNC. They are included with our full Mini EYE packages and can also be purchased separately

Pelican case for 360 camera

A flight case or similar. We supply our complete Mini EYE™ packages in a carry-on sized Pelican case.

Accessory and tool kit – including lens calibration tool

This is supplied as an accessory with our Mini EYE cameras. Our Starter Kit comes with pre-calibrated lenses.

Bench kit

This is included with our Mini EYE cameras and Starter Kit and consists of an AC adapter for the camera and breakout cable.


Other Recommended Items

Atomos Shogun 360 Video
Battery Powered handheld HDMI monitor

A battery powered handheld HDMI monitor is practically required to set exposure and change camera settings on the Blackmagics. We use one with a short 12-18″ HDMI cable and plug it into each camera successively. It is quick and you get the benefit of pro-grade waveform monitors and other tools which are built into these devices. We use an Atomos Shogun Recorder/ Monitor (it doubles as a backup 4k recorder) but cheaper monitors or the newer Atomos and Blackmagic monitor / recorders work too. If you are using the studio cameras you may want to consider a monitor or monitor/recorder that supports SDI (for 4k capability). It’s important that the monitor has a 1:1 pixel feature, i.e. you can zoom in to see pixel for pixel, even if the monitor itself does not offer full resolution (which typically they don’t). Most of the options mentioned here do offer that feature.

Anton Bauer Digital Gold Mount 90 Battery - 360 Video

We recommend Anton Bauer Digital Gold Mount 90 batteries. These have a D-tap connector built-in which plugs directly into our J-Box using the included D-Tap lead.

Watson Digital Gold Mount 90 Charger
Battery Charger

We recommend this one or the official Anton Bauer chargers

Convergent Design Apollo - 360 Video
4k Recorders (if using the Micro Studio Cameras)

We like the Convergent Design Apollo‘s (which offer dual 4k recording), the Video Devices PIX-E5 and Blackmagic Design’s Hyperdeck Studio rack mounted 4k recorders.

360 Monopod Studio Shot

We offer an integrated monopod and power/genlock system or you can bring your own.

We hope this overview of the different components you need to build a Mini EYE™ (or other 360 rig) is helpful. Please let us know if we can provide more information, and we look forward to seeing what people do with this!