It’s been a busy week for Facebook, fresh from its Cambridge Analytica backlash it’s put on a brave face and used F8 to steer the conversation away from what it does with your data and on to what it wants to do with VR.
Its Oculus Go headset is a big step in the right direction for VR: free from tethers, lightweight and, most importantly, inexpensive. But VR goggles are nothing without something to watch on them.
Facebook is hoping to make this experience a whole lot better by teaming up with camera manufacturer RED to develop the most realistic virtual reality experience yet, using Facebook’s Surround 360 technology.
At F8, a link-up with Oculus and RED was announced, with the hope that the end result will be a pro-level virtual reality cinema camera. It's hoped the camera would be able to film footage with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) - the effect you need if you want to not just fully immerse yourself in VR but actually walk, skip or jump through it.
“Facebook’s industry-leading depth estimation technology captures full 3D information about all objects in scenes to deliver a complete 3D reconstruction,” says Facebook.
“Add in 6DOF capture - the ability to simultaneously film multiple angles from within a given volume - and you can generate infinite perspectives from any direction within a field of view so your audience can explore the scene freely.”
Six degrees of Facebook
Six degrees of freedom is nothing new in VR, but it is something that’s usually used in gaming, not in TV or movie production. If Oculus and RED can pull it off, then this may mean some dramatic changes to how users interact with VR.
The reason Facebook chose RED to partner with is because of the high pixel count of the company’s cameras - its camera sensors can pick up to 16 stops of light to provide so the level of detail, depth and color accuracy is hopefully enough to blend in with Facebook’s 3D rendering.
The best bit about the news is that RED will also offer a complete end-to-end solution - so editing and production tools from Adobe, Foundry, and Otoy will be included.
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Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.