Facebook Unveils Two New VR Cameras With ‘Six Degrees of Freedom’, by Cade Metz


FACEBOOK BELIEVES THAT video is the future. Not just any video, but immersive 360-degree video that approaches virtual reality. Of course, creating such video requires a very different breed of camera. So, a team of Facebook engineers, led by a camera guru name Brian Cabral, is hoping to bootstrap a much larger market for these extravagant devices. This morning, at Facebook’s annual developer conference in Northern California, Cabral and team unveiled blueprints for two new cameras designed to capture spherical video with extreme fidelity.

Facebook’s x24 camera creates a depth mask for every object in a scene. That’s what allows these CGI butterflies to interact with the light and objects in this scene as if they were real. Photo: Facebook

One of these orb-shaped devices grabs video through 24 individual lenses. The other, simpler and cheaper to build, spans six. And both shoot with “six degrees of freedom,” moving forward and back, up and down, right and left, and across three other perpendicular axes. This means they can capture a more complete and more realistic image than most cameras on the market, according to Johannes Saam, a senior creative developer at Framestore, a movie effects house that tested early versions of these devices. “If you put a headset on, the presence you feel from these images is way, way, way greater,” he says.

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