Facebook reveals its open-source 360 degree camera array

Surround 360

Now that the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are launching, thus beginning Virtual-reality’s re-emergence into the mass-market, content creators should start creating content for this new medium. 

When it comes to gaming, virtual-reality is covered, with hundreds of studios working on games for the Rift, the Vive and the Playstation VR. But when it comes to content like videos, content-creators are still figuring out how to go about virtual-reality content production.

One of the main challenges is that there is no specialized equipment for it. Only now is Virtual Reality hitting the mass market, and it is an entirely new medium with different principles governing content production. Whilst for traditional mediums there are established brands like Hasseblad providing top-notch cameras, the market for 360-degree cameras still hasn’t settled.

But now, Facebook is entering the fray with its 360-degree camera array, and similar to its previous hardware ventures, the designs are open-source. Since Facebook owns Oculus, it is in its best interest that content-creators start producing VR Content, and an open-source design is exactly the sort of thing to get manufacturers off their laurels.

The setup includes 14 wide-angle cameras on the periphery, one fish-eye camera on the top and two on the bottom. Facebook includes the software needed to seamlessly bring together the feeds from the 17 cameras into one 360-degree videos that is sharp and free of artifacts.

It is designed for heavy-duty work, and can be used continuously for many hours. With Facebook’s software optimizations, the end image is as good as it can possibly be. The videos shot in Facebook’s array can be exported in upto 8K resolutions, and can be played on the Oculus Rift, the Gear VR and other VR Headsets.

There are several manufacturers vying for the attention of content-creators, and only time will tell which camera is the weapon of choice. What do you think?

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