Is 2014 the year of the 360º Immersive Video revolution? Check out some of the front-runners.
January 5, 2014 16 Comments
A little preamble….Danfung Dennis became famous for his documentary “Hell and back Again” which won both the World Cinema Jury Award and World Cinema Cinematography Award at 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award in 2012.
After the theatrical release of the movie Dennis founded a company “Condition One” which developed an Immersive 360° Video App for the iPad and iPhone. I remember downloading the App and being impressed with the fact that you were moving through space in realtime but could effectively pan the camera around to explore the scene. It reminded me of a ride at the Epcot centre many years ago which had a 360° fly through of Thailand from the air. The last I heard Dennis was working on 360° camera to contribute to his platform.
Over the last 10 years Nicholas Woodman, Founder of Woodman Labs – the makers of GoPro has been iterating a robust, wearable camera that can shoot HD video and HiRes photographs. In fact if you haven’t heard of Gopro then I would struggle to know how you ended up on this blog!. Woodman is now a billionaire after FoxxConn invested over $200million in the company. Click here for a really great interactive timeline from Forbes.com of the evolution of Gopro from 2011 and here for the feature story
While the recent release of the GoPro Hero3+ was met with some mixed reaction, GoPro is still the market leader for wearable cameras. But, I’ve noticed in the last 12 months that there are several new 360° Video cameras appearing with their own viewer software and they may well steal a little Gopro thunder in 2014. Thats if GoPro don’t drop a Hero 360° this year! Of course theres already a couple of versions of this available (sort of) : http://www.360heros.com http://freedom360.us
Here are the ones on my watch list.
1. Geonaute (Photo and Video)
3. Panono (photo only)
The Panono is currently part of a crowd-funding project on Indiegogo Price and release date to be confirmed but it has already reached its funding goal. For updates follow them on Twitter
4. Squito Serveball (Photo/Video)
The Serveball is currently in development by its inventor Steve Hollinger. No shipping date as yet.
You can record 360° Immersive video on your iPhone using the GoPano attachment. Obviously the overall resolution is substantially lower than that of multiple cameras stitched together but if you want to shoot on a shoestring this will be a good starting point.
At the other end of the spectrum is a company immersivemedia.com who have several 360° cameras available with one suggested price being in excess of $20,000! Expensive to say the least and I doubt these guys will be happy if any of the above, particularly a 360° Gopro hit the market. Check out one of their demo videos: http://im360.immersivemedia.com/watch/?s=592 Follow them on Twitter
At the end of the day these 360° video platforms will live or die by the effectiveness and ease of use of their respective viewer Apps. While most support options to upload to the respective companies website into special viewer software, (which is embeddable) or alternatively to view the 360° video via a dedicated smartphone or tablet App, I think it would be very interesting if some of them developed a viewer that works with the Oculus Rift which I mentioned in a blog post recently that truly would be IMMERSIVE.
A final thought…If it becomes possible to live stream the 360° video to a widely supported viewer like Quicktime then the current trend for Radio stations to video live stream their radio studio output could get very interesting. In effect the audience could become the director of their very own show choosing which direction to look or which presenter/guest to watch. Fun times ahead!