High-resolution 6DoF VR filmmaking is on its way via Facebook’s Surround 360 platform.
Facebook’s most recent F8 developer conference was jam-packed with VR & AR announcements and reveals, from brand new AR updates to Messenger and Instagram, to the much-anticipated release of the Oculus Go VR headset. For filmmakers however the highlight of the show was without doubt the announcement of an exciting new partnership with professional camera manufacturer RED Digital Cinema.
In an attempt to bring ultra high-end VR filmmaking into the mainstream, the social media giant has teamed up with one of the leading providers of digital cinematography technology to develop a VR camera capable of capturing volumetric scenes in both 360-degrees, as well as 3D, in stunning 8K resolution. According to Facebook the camera will also support a six-degree field of view, allowing users to move about their scenes freely. This is made possible thanks to the company’s Surround 360 platform, which processes captured video into a 360-degree volumetric light field.
Facebook unveiled Surround 360 back at 2016’s F8 conference which included the launch of an open-source hardware and spec blueprint to a 360-degree video capture device consisting of 17 different cameras. The company upped the ante the following year with a new design for a model which could support a whopping 24 cameras.
“We’ve taken all of our learnings over the past two years and all of our cameras and algorithm development to… inform a lot of our decisions on both our partnerships and the design of the cameras,” spoke Brian Cabral, one of the directors of engineering at Facebook working in the field computational photography. “We’ve also listened to a lot of people who use our prototypes and others to incorporate all the learnings in the industry to shoot with VR cams. A lot of the feedback we get is how easy to use it on set.”
This partnership with RED is a crucial moment for Facebook and its Surround 360 program as the social media giant has at last found the support of a quality camera manufacturer universally-respected by both indie and mainstream filmmakers alike. There’s no word yet on a release date or pricing, but seeing as RED cameras aren’t exactly known for their entry-level prices, you should probably expect a sizable price tag on this volumetric, 6DoF beast-of-a-device.
This isn’t RED’s only attempt at accessing the XR market however. Last year we saw the companies first foray into the world of smartphones and AR technology with their RED Hydrogen One, smartphone device which features a mysterious holographic, AR display. Hopefully these two XR ventures are just the first entries into what will eventually be a massive catalogue of RED immersive technology.
Image Credit: Omega Broadcast / VRScout