by Graham Sheldon | 29th November 2016
It seems everyone is getting into the 360 game these days and Panasonic has unveiled an impressive new quad 4K 360 prototype camera at Inter BEE 2016 aimed at streaming sports and live events. Find out more below: There are two large gaps in 360 degree technology right now in my opinion: 1) resolution below 4K is just too blurry and 2) live streaming content is hard to find and delay issues still abound when it works at all. Panasonic is working hard to solve both of those gaps with their 360 camera prototype. Four wired cameras mounted on a tripod are attached to a separate “brain” unit in this rig to stitch together a 4K image viewable in 360 with a VR headset. The fact that the system allows for onboard live stitching and then streaming means a VR live Super Bowl broadcast is getting closer and closer to being a reality. The stitching process occurs with an image delay of only 0.3 seconds — which still doesn’t feel quite delay-free when comparing the image on the iPad with what your eyes see, but it is pretty darn fast. In my opinion, it is a smart move for Panasonic to target the live events and sports markets with this 360 camera should it one day reach market. I see VR tech pushing forward more rapidly at the 50-yard line than in the traditional hollywood studio system. For obvious reasons, sports don’t have a long shelf life when it comes to viewing after the airdate, so live streaming will be essential if 360 / VR applications are to take off in the athletics realm. The good news is that broadcasters and leagues have the deep pockets necessary to put 360 cameras on the field once the technology catches up. The clear leader in the VR sports live streaming space is NextVR, having streamed the opening night game of the NBA in 2015 in partnership with Turner Sports. Companies like NextVR are all developing proprietary technology for both live stitching/streaming and even image capturing in some cases and competition remains fierce. In the end, whether 360 lives are dies will come down to if the audience is there and if production companies and broadcasters can make money off of the technology. Having been a part of the overhyped 3D mini resurgence in 2010 I am wary, but hopeful. No word yet on when or even if the Panasonic 360 prototype camera will come to store shelves and at what price point, but the very fact Panasonic is working on this technology is a sign that camera manufacturers at least are embracing a VR filled future.Read more
by Nino Leitner | 21st May 2016
Watch previous episodes of ON THE COUCH & ON THE GO by clicking here! Visit our Vimeo and YouTube playlists, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Please visit our sponsors’ websites to keep new episodes of ON THE COUCH coming! Thanks to G-Technology and Røde Microphones. In this second part of our first VR themed episode of ON THE COUCH, we talked again to Kodak, Nokia and Sphericam about their VR camera and software solutions. If you missed the first part of this episode, click here to watch it! In this part we focused on the concrete technical specifications of the different camera solutions between the Kodak SP360 4K Action Cam, the Nokia OZO, and the Sphericam. There are multiple challenges when it comes to the still evolving VR landscape: There are few software standards right now for finishing formats, yet both Facebook and YouTube now support uploading VR videos to their sites and make them accessible to a wider audience. Recently even Adobe introduced VR editing support into Adobe Premiere. Kim Gronholm from Nokia, George Krieger from Sphericam, presenter Nino Leitner from cinema5D and Kevin Cruz from Kodak (from left to right) Another big challenge is the stitching between the cameras a VR camera has. As George from Sphericam pointed out, this is still one of the biggest pain points, and it requires a lot of software to do this in realtime and as accurately as possible. There are very different challenges with different cameras as they have different amounts of camera lenses in different distances on them as well – for example the Kodak solution has only two wide angle lenses while the Nokia OZO has many more. We also covered how easy it is to disorient the audience if the VR experience isn’t completely seamless and immediate – and how this is the reason that it’s only been possible with recent technology that is advanced and fast enough to provide the VR experience. Kim Gronholm from Nokia pointed out that there is also a learning curve and that audiences develop a higher tolerance over time as they are getting more used to Virtual Reality experiences. George Krieger from Sphericam mentioned how Virtual Reality is about to revolutionise many industry apart from entertainment, including architecture, archeology, medical applications and many more. Please visit our sponsors’ websites to keep new episodes of ON THE COUCH coming! Thanks to G-Technology and Røde Microphones.Read more
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