The state of virtual reality filmmaking cameras at this point in time can generally be summed up as experimental. With a slew of GoPro 360-degree rigs on the market and companies like Google, Jaunt, and others privately testing their own proprietary cameras, it can be challenging for VR filmmakers to find an out-of-the-box solution.
Here at VRScout we have experienced the challenges shooting with GoPro spherical rigs and the laborious task of stitching in post-production. Again, it is all quite experimental. Although there are some consumer off-the-shelf 360-degree video camera alternatives out there like the Ricoh Theta S, professional filmmakers regularly juggle with deciding on the best solution for shooting VR.
Back in July we introduced you to the Nokia OZO, the company’s next-generation spherical camera for capturing 360-degree virtual reality video. Now Nokia is ramping up for their official launch at the end of the month (November 30) and have been teasing us with glimpses into what we can expect from the Finnish technology company.
In Nokia’s latest video about the future of filmmaking with the OZO, a number of VR innovators speak about how the OZO can affect the entire film industry with virtual reality cinema. A week prior, the company shared a video with the Nokia technologies team explaining how they designed the OZO camera.
Speaking to a couple VR creators that were lucky enough to test shoot with the OZO, their reviews were quite positive and expressed enthusiasm about finally having access to a more complete virtual reality camera solution.
So we thought this would be a great time to revisit the Nokia OZO.
Visual and Audio Input
What we know so far is that the OZO was built with professional content creators in mind. It has eight synchronized global shutter sensors that produce video viewable in 3D and in a complete 360 by 180 format. We haven’t been able to confirm frames-per-second (FPS) with the OZO but hope to learn more as this can directly affect frame rate when it comes to head-tracking and fast-moving scenes.
For audio, the OZO has eight integrated spatial microphones, creating 360-degree spatial sound for a more immersive experience.
One feature that we constantly hear about and are excited to learn more is the OZO’s unique playback solution that enables creators to preview footage in real-time and playback in full 3D VR. What does that mean? Instead of waiting to download footage from each camera to review, you can preview what you are shooting while you are shooting from each lens in real-time.
When it comes to playback, the footage can be viewed on a head-mounted display (HMD) like an Oculus Rift. Which also means stitch-less playback, removing the need to pre-assemble the 360-degree image. Instead of multiple files for each camera lens, the creator will instead have the 3D video stored as one single file. Depending on how well the preview works and stitch assembles, this could dramatically simplify the production process and has the potential to reduce overall production time substantially.
Wire Free Shooting
When shooting on set or out in the field, it is imperative to have a portable camera solution that is compact in size and allows for mobility to capture optimal perspectives. The Nokia OZO weighs in at 6 pounds (2.7 kg) and sports a combined battery and SSD cartridge that is removable and ensures fast equipment changes. On top of that, the camera is also Wi-Fi enabled, allowing filmmakers to control the system remotely.
When it comes to the shape of the housing, one will notice the fin-like part of the OZO. This is where the battery pack is stored. Because each camera lens covers a 195-degree field of view, the camera is supposedly able to capture what’s occurring around the battery pack.
Release Date and Pricing
There is still no word on pricing or when we can actually get our hands on the OZO. Statements from Nokia put the official launch on November 30, 2015 and will include full technical specifications, pricing, and availability details.
So for now we’ll just have to wait. But the promise of having a virtual reality camera system with all these key features could be exactly what professional filmmakers have been looking for. And they may be able to get their hands on one sooner then most thought.
As Ted Schilowitz, Futurist at 20th Century Fox proclaims, “It’s a camera that defines a new form of the art, a new form of cinematic experiences, that’s the OZO.”
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