Here’s what’s new in the world of VR:
Facebook’s Volumetric Cameras
Facebook announced two new additions to its 360-degree camera line this week at its annual F8 developer conference. Each only about the size of a soccer ball, the two are called x24 and x6, based on the number of lenses in each camera. What sets these new cameras apart from other 360 cameras is their ability to capture depth information in addition to the traditional flat video that most cameras record. Even the best 360 videos now are limited in their dimension – essentially, they’re the same as a 2D video, just displayed spherically, so you can look up, down, and around yourself, but the images you’re seeing are still flat images. What the x24 and x6 do is record video volumetrically, which allows viewers to actually move inside the space of the recording. For VR users always looking for the most immersive experience possible, this is a huge gamechanger. Facebook has said it will be licensing the cameras and does not plan to sell them directly.
On the other side of the spectrum from Facebook’s smaller volumetric cameras, Lytro recently announced an even larger version of their Immerge camera. Immerge is a massive light-field camera we first saw content from last year with their short ‘Moon’, an example of what Lytro described as the meeting point between a game engine’s high immersion and a 360 video’s high realism, something that had never been achieved before. Having a camera as large as Immerge – next to Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal for scale above – allows huge amounts of information to be recorded to give viewers a truly steroscopic experience, something the flat frames of traditional 360 video can’t deliver. Even better, Lytro announced its new Immerge prototype is production-ready, and has invited content development studios to submit requests to use it.
Ridley Scott is no stranger to VR, his company Ridley Scott Associates (RSA) already having created a partner VR experience for THE MARTIAN in 2016, and RSA announced Monday a new, official division of RSA dedicated solely to developing VR content, known as RSA VR. The division, headed by Jen Dennis, will be working on the already-announced VR experience for Scott’s upcoming ALIEN: COVENANT. Jules Daly, president of RSA Films, said of the announcement “We have been heavily involved in VR for the past few years, and having a dedicated stand-alone division underscores our commitment to immersive media in both the brand and entertainment space.” In addition to the ALIEN: COVENANT piece, RSA VR is already working on a VR series in partnership with Endless VR called BLACKBOX, and a currently unnamed documentary series with photographer Michael Muller.
Check back every week to see what’s new in VR content and technology!