The much anticipated Insta360 Pro will be at NAB 2017—and, hopefully, available soon after.
The camera, which records 8K 360 video, 6K 3D 360 video and 4K 360 video with realtime stitching or live streaming (either monoscopic or stereoscopic), was announced in January of this year at CES. The camera is comprised of six f/2.4 lenses studded in a spherical housing that feed a processor that supports Raw and HDR recording in both h.264 and h.265 codecs.
The announcement that it would be available sometime in Q1—an ambitious time frame—led to much anticipation and a healthy dose of skepticism from the industry. Although Q1 2017 has come and gone, its physical presence at NAB is hopefully a sign that it will be available in the near future.
Insta360, which also makes the Insta360 Nano and Air 360 cameras for iPhone and Android devices, also announced that the estimated price would increase from $2,999 to $3,499.
As of 2017, virtual reality is humming along in a relatively positive direction thanks to the consistent VR experiences and video games being released across the board for everyone who has access to a headset. Many of these titles aren’t necessarily a “complete” video game experience compared to the AAA titles you’ll find on consoles and PC, however, so there’s still room for improvement going forward. Regardless of the platform or title you end up experiencing virtual reality on, there’s no questioning how close the technology gets you to the action of a video game, often placing you directly in the cockpit of an X-wing or right in the middle of an intense firefight with your friends. As you might expect, the overall experience can vary depending on the image quality of the VR game in question or the headset you’re currently wearing to experience it.
Whether you’re using an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, Sony’s more affordable (but hard to find) PlayStation VR which works with the PlayStation 4, or another option, there are plenty of video games out there worth your attention. Here’s a selection of our favorites, which we will continue to update as more titles are released.
HTC has entered a worldwide partnership with Warner Bros. to exclusively distribute virtual reality (VR) experiences for the studio’s upcoming “Ready Player One” sci-fi movie, which is being directed by Steven Spielberg and is set to be released on March 30, 2018. HTC Virtual Reality SVP Rikard Steiber told Variety that the partnership could be a break-through moment for his industry: “This movie could be defining VR to the broader public.”
“Ready Player One” is based on the Ernest Cline novel by the same title, which has been hailed by many in the VR industry as a seminal piece of writing about virtual worlds. “It is going to be an epic movie,” said Steiber, who’s had a chance to read the script.
Steiber argued that “Ready Player One” could help VR with what he called the “Matrix problem”: The medium is hard to describe to consumers who haven’t used a headset yet. “You have to take the pill to experience it,” Steiber said.
The Guru 360° is the first 3-axis gimbal designed specifically for 360-degree cameras. Adding to the flexibility of the MOZA interchangeable gimbal system, the unit works with all lightweight 360-degree cameras with minimal obstruction to the field of view.
360-degree or spherical video has played a significant role in the growth of modern VR, introducing the concept of ‘free-look’ to the mainstream consumer through social media, thanks to 360 video support on platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Accessible on even the most inexpensive, Cardboard-style VR headsets, combined with the advent of capable entry-level cameras like Samsung’s Gear 360 and Ricoh’s Theta S, 360 video’s popularity is growing rapidly.
Unfortunately, the limitations of current 360 capture mean that, viewed in VR, there are several optical inaccuracies at play, even when using more advanced stereoscopic hardware; some would argue that it doesn’t really qualify as VR. As such, some footage can be quite uncomfortable, causing nausea. Video stability is a major culprit, and 360 cameras exacerbate the problem of handheld capture severely. Watching footage of someone walking with a 360 camera can be a horrendous experience in a headset.
Plenty of companies are making 360 degree cameras, but many of these are aimed at the professional market, especially those that also support 3D capture. Vuze from Humaneyes is a camera looking to change that.
Launched at the 2017 South by South West (SXSW) festival today, Vuze features eight full HD cameras that can capture up to 4K resolution, with four microphones that capture positional audio. It captures up to two hours of video on a single charge. If you want to see what the kit is really capable of, then check out Humaneyes’ online showroom, with a host of videos shot with the device. The picture quality looks pretty good, and we can’t notice any stitching, at least in these static videos.
Consumers are still getting to grips with virtual reality and trying to decide whether to jump on board yet. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg is keeping a close eye on what the research arm of Oculus is up to, with the latest R&D project being virtual reality gloves.
Right now, there’s the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch $199.99 at Amazon controllers, which allow six degrees of motion tracking for your hands. What the Oculus Research lab in Redmond, Washington is working on is a pair of gloves that bring the full movement range of your hands and fingers into a virtual world. By wearing them, you’ll be able to type on a virtual keyboard and draw with a high degree of accuracy.
As the image above shows, these prototype gloves aren’t hooked up to the Oculus tracking system yet. Instead they rely on an array of trackers focused on the area where Zuckerberg is moving his glove-covered hands.
As TechCrunch points out, the VR gloves probably aren’t brand new tech Oculus developed internally. Oculus acquired Pebbles Interfaces last year, which already had a virtual reality hand tracking system in development. This is likely an extension of that tech.
Zuckerberg also points out that the research lab is working on reducing the size of the headsets to glasses we can carry anywhere. He also mentions “advanced optics, eye tracking, mixed reality and new ways to map the human body” in his Facebook post about the lab visit.
GUILDFORD, U.K. — Mocha VR is a groundbreaking new software tool bringing high-end visual effects and post-production workflows to 360°/VR filmmaking. Based on Imagineer’s Academy Award-winning planar tracking algorithm, Mocha VR is also the first plug-in to bring native 360° optimized motion tracking, masking, object removal, and horizon stabilization tools to host applications Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Avid Media Composer, The Foundry’s NUKE, and Blackmagic Design Fusion.
Mocha VR marks the first foray into the quickly expanding 360° filmmaking community by parent company Boris FX, the leading developers of creative VFX plug-ins including flagship products Boris Continuum, Mocha Pro, and recently acquired Sapphire.
“Emerging 360°/VR content creators want to produce Hollywood style visuals and use high-end finishing techniques to make their 360° videos more impactful,” said Ross Shain, Chief Marketing Officer. “However, the equirectangular format brings technical challenges to the artists tasked with delivering high quality deliverables. Mocha VR introduces an efficient, time-saving post-stitch workflow for editors, compositors, and finishing artists. We are excited that Mocha’s famous planar tracking can now be used to fix many problems associated with 360° post, such as removing cameras and stabilizing aerial footage.”
“Avid is committed to working with third-parties to offer the most comprehensive tools and workflow solutions to create, distribute, and monetize media,” said Kate Ketcham, Product Manager, Avid. “Boris FX has extensive experience creating high-quality plug-ins for Avid Media Composer. The new Mocha VR AVX plug-in is notable for being the first third-party 360° video tool designed to support the Avid editing workflow.”
Early Mocha VR beta testers have reaped the benefits of the powerful new 360°/VR workflow.
Those cables that are holding you down in virtual reality may soon go extinct.
Valve expects wireless technology to come to the HTC Vive and the wider, high-end PC-powered VR market this year. Devices like the TPCast already exist. This is a dongle you add to the Vive that wirelessly beams the HDMI signal to the VR head-mounted display and powers it with a battery. It isn’t on sale yet, but Valve thinks that will change soon — and then the company expects that tech will end up as a standard feature in future headset iterations.
“Wireless is a solved problem at this point,” Valve founder Gabe Newell told a roundtable of developers at the company’s headquarters in Bellevue, Washington. “So my expectation is that it will be an add-on in 2017, and it will be an integrated feature in 2018.”
Losing those cables will enable more freedom for people playing room-scale VR experiences in the Vive. It should also aid with presence for people who don’t want a tether reminding them of their connection to actual reality.
360-degree media production companies are becoming more and more important as companies reach out for creative ways to market their products, share their creative visions, and even educate their employees. SubVRsive, a team that has worked with MTV and has even earned an Emmy nomination for their collaboration with Showtime, announced that they’ve completed a series A funding round, acquired $4 million, and appointed former Hulu SVP Johannes Larcher as their new CEO.
On the company’s blog post about the funding, they wrote of the potential of VR and AR when it comes to providing the best content for their clients:
If our experience in immersive storytelling has taught us anything, it’s that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are fundamentally redefining the ways in which brands connect with their audiences. While the sight, sound, and motion of traditional video allow brands to explain their benefits to consumers, the immersive nature of Virtual Reality allows consumers to experience those benefits for themselves – and that experience is captivating. We are convinced that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will continue to push the envelope of storytelling and will offer brands more and more effective ways to deepen their engagement with their audiences.
The funding round was the result of investments from a single participant, the WPP, which is one of the world’s leading communications service companies.
Modern virtual reality has been hailed as the future of Hollywood entertainment, our science fiction fantasies come to life. But there’s an ongoing problem: most VR experiences just aren’t that interesting. Hampered by evolving hardware and a medium with no set rules or audience expectations, most virtual reality experiences come off as either glorified tech demos, or simulacra of other, more established types of content. They’re usually riffing on stories that would be better told as short films or traditional games.
It’s partially a matter of storytelling conventions. Cinema has had more than a century to develop its own language of shots, cuts, and transitions, while storytelling in VR is still in its infancy. Creators are still figuring out what the medium can even do, let alone how to best take advantage. But virtual reality is only one small sliver in the much larger continuum of immersive entertainment. Real-world entertainment experiences have been evolving in their own right, developing their own unique approaches to storytelling. In the process, they aren’t just engaging audiences — they’re showing the way forward for virtual reality.