Announced yesterday at Samsung Unpacked was a new version of the Gear 360, the company’s 360 camera. The event, which saw official announcement of the Galaxy S8/S8 plus and pricing info of the new Gear VR, revealed that the new Gear 360 is capable of capturing 360 video in 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24 fps, and livestreaming 2K to Facebook and YouTube.
Now fitting in a bulbous hand-held form-factor, the 2017 Gear 360 is upping the resolution and spreading support to more devices including the iPhone 7, a first for the little 360 camera. Last year’s model shot at a max resolution of 3840 x 1920 at 30 fps, didn’t include livestreaming, and only connected to a a number of select Samsung handsets.
Samsung hasn’t released pricing and availability yet, but the company maintains shipping will start sometime in April or May and cost less than last year’s model at $350.
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.