News from Cannes: VFX and 3D animation facility Prana Studios plans to reinvent the theatrical experience with massive screens encompassing entire theatres, animatronic dinosaurs, and actors performing live on stage.
Speaking in Cannes at a session sponsored by Hewlett-Packard forecasting the future of film up to thirty years from now, Anish Mulani, President and COO of Mumbai-based Prana revealed plans to develop two massive format immersive theatre projects.
One of these projects, branded Theater Next, is likely to see its first install within the next two years, according to Mulani.
“The whole canvas of the theatre will be used to tell a story,” he explained. “The moment you walk into Theater Next, every wall will be covered with giant projection. There will be moving seating and sensory effects like wind and heat. Life-size animatronic creatures and characters relevant to the story such as pirates, aliens and dinosaurs will be with there with you.”
The giant size of the auditoria, with panoramic screens in excess of 40 meters, and display resolutions up to 24K – or 12 times that of 2K conventional exhibition – are also intended to attract audiences.
“Cinema exhibition is moving toward ultra-scale large format experiential experiences while conventional movie releases will be streamed for projection on walls within people’s houses,” Mulani predicted.
Prana Studios is also developing dome-style theatres featuring 180-degree field of view and reclining seats.
LAST YEAR GARMIN made one of my favorite action cams, the Virb Ultra 30. It’s a voice-controlled 4K shooter with great image quality and the ability to layer data like speed and location over your extreme human tricks.
Today, Garmin is taking the lid off its first entry into the 360-degree action cam space, the Virb 360. I got to spend a few days testing out this new camera, and overall I came away pretty impressed.
The Virb 360 shoots spherical, VR-compatible video at a resolution of 5.7K, and it does it at 30 frames per second. That sounds solid, but even a high-quality 5.7K image looks very pixelated when you spread it over a full sphere. The video isn’t nearly as sharp as a traditional 16:9 frame of 4K. But the Garmin has enough resolution to beat most other 360 cameras out there, which typically top out at 4K spheres.
The camera makes a spherical image by using two fisheye lenses facing opposite directions. Images from the dual cameras are stitched into a sphere automatically, making your video instantly ready to share. The camera generally does a very nice stitching job, though the seams are certainly visible when nearby objects pass over them.
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At the intersection of technology and engineering, you’ll find Virtual Reality — the much-buzzed about tech that will eventually be so cool that we’ll all Matrix ourselves. These days, most VR is a static, stereoscopic film which allows you to visually explore a single spot. The future of VR is more than that. It’s a fully immersive experience in which you can run, jump, climb, swim, fly, study, and research through space and time.
In this new VR-era, Sólfar Studios is blazing the path. They’ve built a VR world where you can viscerally explore Mount Everest, right now. The Everest VR experience from their studio allows the VR user to feel the wonders of being at Everest’s base camp before actually climbing the mountain in real time. You can take steps, cross rickety ladders, and even leave offerings on Buddhist altars.
It is so immersive that even though you’re virtually standing on the precipice of a virtual cliff on virtual Everest, you end up with real vertigo (it’s true, we tried it).
From big shots like Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott to independent names, countless movie directors around the world are dipping their toes into the field of virtual reality.
Ilya Rozhkov, a Moscow-born director is one of those emerging names experimenting with this new medium.
Teaming up with The Rogue Initiative — a technology based entertainment studio from Los Angeles — Rozhkov has filmed a short 360 degree movie with a custom engineered camera, placed on an actor’s head.
Titled as “Agent Emerson” the short movie tells the story of a CIA operative who awakens to find himself part of an experimental government program where subjects are under complete remote control by “The General”.
“Shooting with a 360 degree camera doesn’t simply make a virtual reality movie,” says Ilya Rozhkov. “We designed Agent Emerson as a virtual reality production starting from the writing phase. Then we reached out to Galaxy Vision and asked them to build a custom-engineered proprietary stereoscopic VR camera rig called the IC-Cam — Identity Capture Camera.”
The IC-Cam is placed on an actor’s head to provide a first-person point-of-view. Depending on the set up, this rig can consist from 21 to 23 custom-modified small cameras.
The whole setup weighs around 11 pounds (5 kg.) and the maximum resolution is 6K per eye, which can shoot in 3D.
Facebook is working with partners like OTOY, Adobe, Framestore, Foundry and others to build out a new kind of camera system, tools and workflows capable of volumetric capture. The system should equate to a more realistic representation of reality in captured footage. In the end, it will let viewers in VR move their head around with greater freedom and see the action in a video from different angles. The plan is to release it later this year.
This new soccer ball-sized camera system will be an evolution of the earlier open “Surround 360” camera announced last year that equated to roughly $30,000 in parts. I asked Facebook for details on the pricing of the new six degrees of freedom system, but the company is planning for manufacturing partners to license the new camera designs and turn it into a product — so pricing is up to them.
Of course, you’ve heard about 360 cameras by now – capable of capturing video or stills of the entire scene. It’s been emerging over the past couple of years, and really feels as if the market is ready to explode. But if you truly want to a 360/VR experience with your goggles, the visuals are only part of an important equation: You need 360 audio in order to complete the experience.
Here at the NABShow, The Digital Circuit spent some time Monday poking around the world of Ambisonic audio.
Now you might think, given that 360 video is a recent phenomenon, that this whole idea of ambisonic (kind of a mashup of ambient and sonic) audio must also be a relatively new deal. That would be incorrect.
The reality is that this concept (and even the word) has been around since the analogue days. Wikipedia describes it as a “full sphere surround-sound technique: In addition to the horizontal plane, it covers sound sources above and below the listener.”
Though it was cool at the time, it never really took off. Some audiophiles loved it and there were niche recordings, but it just wasn’t a mainstream hit.
That was then. Enter digital, home theatre, 5.1, 7.1, 9.1-channel audio and the interest in what has popularly become known as “surround sound” enjoyed an obvious resurgence. But true ambisonic audio is different from these discrete channels, because the sound source can move just as you move in a virtual space.
Back in March we wrote about the reports that GoPro was making cuts to its VR division in an effort to refocus its core business. That much may be true, but the company still has a new VR camera on the way.
The company this month announced Fusion, a new device capable of capturing both 360 degree and traditional video content in up to 5.2K at 30fps. There aren’t many images of the device available yet, though it looks very different from the traditional square-shaped HeroCams we’re used to seeing. You can see some of the first panoramic footage captured with the new device below.
Joining Google’s newly unveiled YI HALO camera is the Yi 360 VR, a consumer-tier camera designed for recording 360-degree video for virtual reality purposes. The camera is able to stitch together 4K-resolution videos and it can also livestream content at a 2.5K resolution, putting a relatively high-end VR camera in hobbyists’ pockets. Despite its capabilities, the camera is small enough to fit in a pocket or bag; it works in conjunction with a mobile app.
Hallelujah is a new experience by VR film studio Within that’s captured using Lytro’s latest Immerge light-field camera which captures volumetric footage that makes for a much more immersive experience than traditional 360 video. Hallelujah is a performance of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 song of the same name, and mixes the latest in VR film capture technology with superb spatial audio to form a stunning experience.
Lytro’s Immerge camera is unlike any 360 camera you’ve seen before. Instead of shooting individual ‘flat’ frames, the Immerge camera has a huge array of cameras which gather many views of the same scene, data which is crunched by special software to recreate the actual shape of the environment around the camera. The big benefit of which is that the playback puts the viewer in a virtual capture of the space, allowing for a limited amount of movement within the scene, whereas traditional 360 video only captures a static viewpoint which is essentially stuck to your head. Not to mention the Immerge camera also provides true stereo and outputs a much higher playback quality. The result is a much richer and more immersive VR film experience than what you’ve seen with traditional 360 video shoots.
8K x 8K. That’s already an amazing figure on its own, but there is more to this device than just a massive pixel count. In terms of design, the YI HALO works as the frame that holds seventeen 2.5K action cameras. 16 of them handle the horizontal view while one camera faces up, and they are all connected internally to the main unit that also powers them.
This design makes the YI HALO completely modular. If something happens to one of the cameras, you can just replace it with one of the two spares it comes with, and you can even replace them with newer models once these become obsolete – something that doesn’t take very long in the camera world these days. Firmware upgrades are also easy to do: they can be triggered for all connected cameras through the interface on the main unit.