by Adam Plowden | 16th February 2017
Lytro’s take on image capture is truly unique, using light field technology to create an immersive virtual environment. After raising $60 million and a complete system re-design, the Lytro Immerge Light Field camera has captured the first high-end virtual reality film and is ready for production. But first, a quick recap of what light field technology actually is. While a traditional camera records the light hitting the sensor with a specific focused point, light field captures the pathway of the light from the source or object reflecting the light to the camera. This allows for post focusing and a virtual orientation of the scene after it’s been shot (For a more in-depth explanation check out this article). Through massive investment and development, and a belief that virtual reality experiences and cinema is the next step in our world of film, Lytro has developed the capture and workflow for high-end 360-degree filming using light field technology in its Lytro Immerge system, demonstrated in this VR demo video called ‘Moon’. This project demonstrates the first 360-degree live-action VR piece with 6DoF (degrees of freedom, not depth of field), which essentially means ‘high immersion’, allowing the viewer to move around in the virtual space. The combination of light field and virtual reality creates the ‘real world’ effects that we see and experience in person, which include: Parallax, or the ability to look around objects, giving a true realistic experience. Truly correct stereo that orients with head movement, rather than stereoscopic 360-degree video which requires the head to be level with the horizon. Seamlessly integrated live action and film-quality graphics. Viewing dependent lighting effects, such as shadows and reflections in the environment. No stitching artefacts like the ones sometimes seen on 360-degree videos, because of the light field’s accurate scene reconstruction. The redesign of the camera saw it transform from a spherical array of lenses, into a planar array which is then rotated 360 degrees to capture the full environment. The Lytro Immerge servers then create the 3D virtual reality using the environment’s light fields. Old Lytro Immerge Light Field Camera Design New Lytro Immerge Light Field Camera Design Since the demonstration of project ‘Moon’, Lytro Immerge has been used in the production of Chris Milk’s Within project that focuses on storytelling in virtual reality, which is due to be released in the summer. Although high-end virtual reality films are yet to find their feet in the movie world, Lytro believe that there is an expanding market for true virtual reality cinematography and are exploring possibilities of studios using the technology especially in Asia. It’s not a technology that we’ll see in our pockets or camera bags anytime soon, but it is an exciting step forward for creating deeper immersive experiences. For more information on the Lytro Immerge, check out the Lytro website, and take a look at some of the Within projects here. via Variety.comRead more
by Nic Divischek | 6th November 2015
The idea of capturing light rays instead of a flat image is an interesting concept. This will allow users to change things like focal range in post. Lytro have taken it a step further and developed Lytro Immerge – the world’s first light field solution for cinematic VR. Lytro burst onto the scene three years ago with its first light-field camera. The company’s imaging technology has always been groundbreaking. They brought still cameras onto the market that allow you to capture a shot, then in post let you decide where to focus and how to adjust the depth-of-field. The usual cameraman’s term “fix it in post” can now be applied to things that were never before possible in still photography and now cinematography. However, Lytro’s first two cameras were far from good. Its recent Lytro Illum looked like a DSLR with a hefty pricetage of $1600, but could neither capture great image quality, nor could it shoot video, despite its innovative refocusing technology. Lytro captures Light rays instead of a flat image A Lytro camera that shot video was inevitable. Lytro has set its sights on capturing VR video, and the company is announcing a new end-to-end system that could radically change the possibilities for VR viewers and filmmakers alike. The Lytro Immerge system has been in development for about a year and a half. It’s the first Lytro product intended for professional video production. In an interview between Wired and Lytro CEO Jason Rosenthal, Rosenthal says the sensors and the system were designed completely from scratch. Its centrepiece is the Immerge camera, a five-ring globe that captures what Lytro is calling a “light-field volume.” Unlike existing VR camera rigs, which capture a static 360-degree image, the Immerge camera will let you move around within the scene. “Imagine a camera staying stationary, but being able to move your head around and getting further and closer away from an object in a scene,” Rosenthal explains. “Having the reflection and the light rays adjusting accordingly. What the light field volume represents is, we’re densely capturing all the rays in a given geometric volume, and then we’ve built software that lets us play back those rays at very high frame rates and at high resolution. It gives you the perfect recreation of the actual world you’re capturing.” That capability alone is a mind-boggling leap for VR filmmaking, and the Immerge announcement is timed well in preparation for the next generation of VR hardware. Positional-tracking headsets such as the Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR are all slated for release next year. The Lytro’s video will be compatible with all those platforms. Lytro intends Immerge to be an end-to-end workflow system. In order to save the amounts of high-speed, high-resolution data, Lytro developed their own server. Each holds about an hour of 360-degree light-field video. It is designed to work with production tools like Nuke, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and Avid Media Composer. There will be plug-ins for those programs and other industry-standard software that support importing and working with Immerge video. What is exciting about the future of this technology is the ability to refocus within a scene based on a headset’s eye-tracking, instantaneous 3D-modeling, and realistically blending CG content with live video. “We’re capturing all the depth and the 3D geometry of the real world, so compositing computer-generated objects into that with the right depth and the right shading and shadows and lighting, that all becomes much easier than it’s ever been before,” Rosenthal explains. “Imagine a video game where instead of having the weird motion-captured, CG-rendered people, you can actually have photo-realistic people. That starts to become possible.” The Lytro will be available in the second half of 2016 for a couple hundred thousand dollars. Obviously these are numbers that are out of reach for most professionals, however rental plans are being drafted, which will allow you to have it for a mere couple of thousand dollars a day. For more information, visit Lytro’s website. What do you think of this new VR capturing Technology? Would you like to try and use Lytro Immerge on your set? Let us know in the comments below.Read more
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