Today Facebook dropped a bomb on the VR Video world. Things are speeding up even faster.

Voila! Brian Cabral unveils the new UFO flying into our VR world!

360-degree Video is hot these days. The world of Cinema/film production, live broadcasting, corporate marketing, documentary filmmaking, and journalism, are all clamoring to figure out where this new medium of expression fits in to their existing ecosystem. Is VR Video a flop like 3D TV or is it a fantastic new way of capturing and viewing the world that will make our flat screens look antiquated in only a few years’ time? Will we wonder in a few years how we possibly lived without it? Are we now in another exciting time similar to the launch of the iPhone, where everyone who gets in early will be innovators and pioneers in a space that will be completely mainstream in a short time?

Only one year ago, there was basically just one 360 camera on the market: The Ricoh Theta. This little pocket-sized marvel of hardware and optical engineering really nailed one thing: It made (sort of low resolution but still good looking on phone) 360 photos. Then they updated it to make videos. It’s still very much the low-end 360 camera, but it has crossed the threshold of acceptable quality for enough use cases that it has become the best selling camera at B&H. Yes, this weird little camera has legs.

Now we have lots of 360 cameras out there. Tiny ones, huge ones. Audaciously expensive ones. Some are for sale, some are not. Some are real, some are vaporware. Some are shipping, some are nearly shipping. The world of 360 cameras is a bit like the automobile industry 100 years ago. All shapes and sizes, no standards, nobody really agrees on what is going to work best or what is going to stick. It is a fantastic world where even small startups are making a big splash and getting the world’s attention.

And today we welcome a new 800 pound gorilla to the scene. This 800 pound gorilla is blue, and it’s giving a thumbs up :)

The Facebook 360 Camera

17 cameras, 6K resolution, with 30 gigabits per second of raw capture. This thing is formidable, and as Facebook says, they want to jumpstart the VR video ecosystem by open sourcing the plans for this camera so that anyone can build it themselves. The stitching code will also be open sourced, and it is a doozy: using optical flow algorithms, the stereo (so called “3d”) image derived from these cameras will be first-rate.

What is the end game with this camera, really?

My guess is that this high-end camera will allow studios, production companies, and broadcasters to build their own high end camera to shoot production-quality work at a fraction of the cost of other cameras. This one costs around $30K while other solutions of a similar caliber might cost $60Kor more.

The software that has been built for this camera is not to be underestimated. It is probably far more impressive than the hardware itself, the result of years/decades of research in computer vision, and I expect that the output of this camera, using the image processing pipeline that is also provided open-source with the camera, will really be impressive.

While this 17-lens camera is large and fairly unwieldy for some types of shooting — you can’t wear this thing on your head, or shoot inside a car with it — I would expect that this initial hardware configuration, where many basic issues around hardware architecture and specifications have been addressed, that it will allow the DIY community to adapt this setup with more or fewer lenses to accomodate different scenes and different types of shooting. We can expect other hardware configurations — 6 cameras, 8 cameras, and so on — with adapted software processing to still produce workable stereo — to emerge from this platform.

This is a fantastic day for the world of VR Video and I’m even more excited about our future than before. Facebook is showing they are all-in on the VR ecosystem, and want to help the community of VR video creators evolve and develop this exciting field as quickly as possible.

These are exciting times.

Hey guys! Hope you weekend was fantastic and you’re ready for a quick trip to Chile and Vietnam. Two of our community photographers made stunning photos you certainly do not want to miss.

 

Luis A. Romero Pavez – Chile

In our weekly round-up of the panoramic photos selected as editors’ picks, we start in Chile, with a wonderful view of the Grey glacier in southern part of the country. Not only the view’s great, but we love the colors and the way the clouds cast shadows on the glacier below. Brilliant pano!

Click the picture to open the pano!

 

Alexey Miroshnikov – Vietnam

Time to move to the other side of the planet, as Alexey Miroshnikov made a trip to Vietnam and we can join him, thanks to his lovely panoramic pictures. Four panos from two different places – seaside and mountains – give you the idea how beautiful the country really is. Check it out!

Click one of the pictures to open the pano!

On April 12, 1961, at 09:07 Moscow time, a rocket with the Vostok spacecraft-satellite flown by pilot-cosmonaut Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was launched from the Cosmodrome near the Baikonur station.

 

The Vostok 1 spacecraft-satellite descent vehicle has been kept in the Museum hall of NPO Energia ever since, which is named after Academician S.P. Korolev.

 

All structural elements, devices and units of the Vostok spacecraft-satellite descent vehicle are original (except for the interior lining, reconstructed due to deterioration).
Hi-resolution 360-degree panorama of the Vostok spacecraft-satellite created by Andrew Bodrov:

 

Interactive 360 video:

Jann Lipka is an excellent panoramic photographer living in Sweden. You can find his personal website at http://fotograf.nu/log/.
 Jann_med_tre_kamerorIMG_0909
When did you first become obsessed with photography? And what else are you obsessed with, besides photography?
Photography was in my mind from childhood as my father worked periodically with photography.
but it seemed to be difficult to make a living from it  ( my father worked mostly as editor  )
After a couple of year at Technical University of Warsaw I went North to Sweden and
decided to give it a try with a two year photography education .
I came to think of that there is a competition whatever you do  – even driving a taxi
But for me photography was more fun :-) and I thought with some talent and
How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?
 
 A  good customer of mine was working with commercial  building  that had a special view –  he asked
me about shooting 180 degrees panorama of that  ( to be used as a billboard )
.  I quickly discovered the world of curvy straight lines and  that job financed a Manfrotto 303 head .
( I still use it – but only for special projects )  After a while I wanted to do that spinning QT VR pictures.
And I had some luck with getting some good customers for 360 shoots.
one break through was 360 virtual tour of Wikileaks server hall here in Stockholm.
Are you a professional or amateur photographer?
I make my living as a photographer since 20 years,
Panorama photography is quite small part of my work .
I do mostly  corporate / advertising and editorial – mostly portraits and
people photography.
Do you travel much to do your photography?
It happens every couple of weeks  but I work mostly locally in Stockholm.
What kind of photography do you like the best? and of what kinds of things?
I enjoy mostly news photography and photojournalism –  even very advanced commercial images
always fade very quickly …
That is probably the reason for my own  360 work I would love to do more action panoramas like this one
http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/protesten-inifran/
barely possible to make because of fast movement.
The frozen moment  combined with 90 Mb of details – i love it.
What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR, as we know it now, hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?
Regarding still images maybe the market will improve because of so many huge companies like Samsung are
pushing customers into VR –  Sweden is a country with people very much ROI oriented and customers tend to
invest in imaging ( like 360 ) if they can clearly see  that it is profitable – and I think still  the most of them find
360 photography is a bit gimmicky – and most people don’t really know how to explore it.
So as always it is  good to find customers  that personally enjoy  360 imaging .
But sometimes it is easy to forget that 360 images are quite time demanding – Still image can be
“consumed”  faster then in one second.
 
Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?
I’m waiting eagerly for coming video cameras from Sphericam ,
but also consumer oriented Nikon and Samsung.  At least 4k.
360 cameras delivered from Camera companies is a good sign.With still images I think technology is more mature – can be polished but I don’t expect miracles.
I shoot with Sony A7R II and like its good dynamic range. ( but use it only for pano work and video – for
other type of work I shoot canon and Hasselblad )All ” miracle / camera cluster ” solutions  ( like Google promoted IRIS ) are something I would never use for proper
still panorama – i am a strong believer that parallax should be avoided for non stereo work and that is best done with one
lens rotated around NPP.
What is your opinion about 360 Video?
360 Video is definitely exploding   but there is so much issues to be solved .
I think 4K is the way to go because of bandwith and of course even that is quite data intensive.
i would love to have a two lens solution – or maximum 3
. 6 cameras  solutions scare  me because 6 time larger
possibility that something will overheat :-)  or break.
As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?
Two things – Most people see 360 images as a spinning pictures only but don’t realize that those can be viewed in extreme detail
/ enlargement.
Regular  panorama from me is 120 Megapixel large and that means a lot of detail .
Normal  still images are almost never published  in zoomable format.
so with 360 there is so much more to explore for those who want to get into details.Second  – The “values”  that 360 photography are build upon are very often in line with what  a lot of companies want to stand for
( and also very much those are the values that Swedish society wants to emphasize )Open, inviting, participating, honest and engaging.

 All that are things that 360 photography is about

How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

I’m pretty sure that 360 video is going to be a part of regular video work  .
I already get some calls from  large  video production companies that only want to know what camera I use  ( and they buy it )
They  see 360 imaging as a technology and don’t understand its strong sides ( filing in first person perspective, small

cramped interiors etc etc )  and just put a 360 camera in a middle of a room – the 360 story telling is more complex then that.
Good quality  360 streaming will be a  game changer for  video-journalism.Still image panos  using only one camera / lens will  still be a niche product that needs an expert to be properly done.
With all those lovely quirks and workarounds. Push for more VR content is a good thing but with that 120 Megapixels panos are
overkill.  For the best play to enjoy a proper panorama is still a 30 inch display :-)
Add any other questions/answers you think are relevant or interesting :)
With 360 we are still in a phase when technology itself is a fascinating achievement –
That is the reason this niche is mostly populated with computer people .
It will get much more interesting when artists and poets will start to tell their stories.
– for myself  i see it as a best tool for sharing experience of ” being there “.
JAnn_stadshuset

The refugee crisis has been one of the most discussed events in recent times and it has been getting a lot of media attention as well. The crisis was also one of the most searched topics on Google in 2015.

Thousands of Syrian families fled the war and violence and headed to Europe in hope of finding peace and better future. Yet a number of them were not that lucky.

The stories of the immigrants are sometimes unbelievable and, thanks to our community photographer Martin Bruining, we have the opportunity to get a glimpse of what the situation is like at the refugee camps in Greece. Just looking at the beaches in Lesbos gives you an idea of the tragedy that has unfolded.

 


“People arrive in Lesbos in boats every day, looking for safety, risking their lives taking rickety boats supplied by human traffickers. Men, women, children and babies. All arrive daily on the beaches of the Greek Islands, welcomed by residents and volunteers who came there to help,” Bruining told us.

 

 

 

Despite the number of volunteers, the refugees’ stories are not happy at all.

“The stories are far from ordinary. In one of the camps I met a Syrian man with a baby in his arms. The baby girl was born in Turkey and made the dangerous crossing on the first month of her life, not knowing what still lies ahead. Turning one year, she will have suffered more than I hope I ever will in my whole life.”

Martin said and added another story:

“There was a 16-year-old Afghan boy, whose family gave him all their money so he could go and look for safety in Europe. He just heard that the border between Macedonia and Greece was closed for Afghans. ‘I can’t go back home. Where am I supposed to go now?” he asked Martin.

Many stories similar to these are now forgotten and lost in the waves of the Mediterranean Sea. This huge pile of life jackets, each of which has its own story, looms there as a sad reminder.

 

Hi, fans!

After a short while, we’re back, so let’s have a look together at the coolest stuff uploaded to 360Cities in recent days. After a couple of snow-related editions of our round-up, it now looks like the spring is coming! Finally!

 

Crazy House, Dalat — Stairs labyrinth by Alexey Miroshnikov (click the picture to open the pano)

This week, we open our summary with a lovely shot of a famous guesthouse in Da Lat, Vietnam. It’s called “the Crazy house” for a reason, as Dang Viet Nga, the architect, gave it a really unusual look. Natural elements, used in the construction and design, make it look pretty cool – this is definitely a place to stay!

 

Biawak Island by Dominic Julian (click the picture to open the pano)

Dominic took this pano at Biawak Island in West Java, which can easily be called the paradise. With its amazing fauna and flora, it is really a place to remember – make sure you read Dominic’s description about lizards, corals, fish and so on!

 

The Milky Way arching over Arco Iris by Vincent Lawrence (click the picture to open the pano)

Would it be a proper weekly round-up without a cool night shot? No, for sure. But Vincent’s pano of a Milky way from Patagonia is really amazing. Despite a bit of a light pollution, Vincent captured it wonderfully – and added a couple of interesting stories using 360Cities annotations. Cool!

 

Huuhanmäki observatory by Janne (click the picture to open the pano)

No starry sky here, but certainly a cool pano! Another night panoramic photo takes us to the Huuhanmäki observatory in Kuopio, Finland, so you can see what the sky looks like from up there.

 

Panthéon, Paris by Zeljko Soletic Dubrovnik (click the picture to open the pano)

What we love the most about his pano (apart from its photographic quality, of course!) is the view at the floor, as the perspective looks pretty confusing for the human eye. Just have a look in the direction of one of four statues and you’ll know what we mean.

By the way, Zeljko visited Galerie Médicis, too!

 

Keep scrolling, if you still want more!

Munich Highlight Towers by Mathias  (click the picture to open the pano)

Sharps Chapel, Chon Buri by Artem Ryazanov (click the picture to open the pano)

Choose Category, Subcategory and Time

 

We are pleased to announce the launch of the 360Cities automated panorama licensing engine. 360Cities licensing customers will now be able to search for, select, purchase and download limited use licenses in a familiar shopping cart checkout experience. This will allow licensing customers to purchase and download images within minutes, which in turn will help increase your chances of earning royalties from your 360Cities panoramas.

 

 

 

 

The launch of our licensing engine, coupled with our new Distribution Partnership with Getty Images, provides you a unique chance to monetize your 360 images. 360Cities has licensed thousands of our members’ images and paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties to our members around the world. We expect the rate of growth to increase steadily going forward and we’re pleased to have you on board.

 

You can read detailed information about how the licensing platform works for clients here.

 

LIcense Checkout

 

Please note that the prices that appear in the Licensing Engine for the limited use (rights-managed) licenses are list prices. The actual price may be lower if we agree to specific terms with clients on a case-by-case basis. Of course we strive to do what is best for all parties involved in order to grow both our licensing business and your royalties.

Gerald Blondy is a nice man. Look at him, standing on an iceberg.  I love this photo.

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Gerald is a Frenchman living in the deep hinterlands of Moravia. In this remote yet civilized place he builds panoramic photography equipment as Bushman Panoramic. These tripods and panoramic tripod heads are compact, light, well-built devices that are a pleasure to use. I love my Eben tripod, and I want to get a sandbug panohead next – it looks tiny and nice.

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When did you first become obsessed with photography?

My first obsession with photography came in 1998 when I borrowed a film camera from a friend and took it to blues festival. I was lucky to be able to enjoy so much good music when I was living in Virginia and Washington D.C. At that moment I realized how much I enjoyed capturing these moments. I was obsessed with music, acoustics and sound recording. I didn’t get to photography until I was working In Democratic Republic of Congo.

Living in the bush with absolutely nothing around during my free time the only thing I had was time and a Minolta A2 (8Mpix) in my hands and nothing else. Ever since I have my camera around.

When I came to Czech Republic in 2008. There I got into panoramic photography and started making plans and making my first panoramic heads. Some months later I decided to develop a series of products and later create Bushman Panoramic. So now 7 years of full time panoramic photography testing and creating.

10731217_10204048508205635_7658885953581759204_n

 

How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?

I think my first attempt to stitch some 120° panorama was on top of a hill in Congo.

http://virtualvisit.bushman-panoramic.com/kilembe/

I started simple stitch with some hand held panorama, and then started to tried to do complete 360 by reading the process on the Internet. It was catastrophic and so disappointing actually. I actually got into 360 by focusing on the panoramic head. So all my energy was actually testing and developing my first head that was called “Panoramax” then later on “Kalahari”. As the head evolved the shooting went faster and the stitch as a result became easier too.

 

Do you travel much to do your photography?

Yes as much as I can, mostly for testing and taking product photos. I get nervous when I don’t travel. I

11393446_10153359734659836_8455403421058071277_o

What kind of photography do you like the best?

My preference is by far the 360 in little planet projection. I love doing them and thinking “little planet“.

 

What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?

For sure very exciting and interesting to see so many project evolving and working on so many aspects. It is really going in all direction; it is still very new for the grand public. It has open a complete new world of possibilities and options.

 

Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?

Many names come up but of course since many year a team like Airpano are doing really stunning work.

 

What is your opinion about 360 Video?

I find it very exciting. Since 3 years to see the fast evolution of 360 video. Going from 360 photos to 360 videos. This is offering a complete new perspective for VR and so much more possibilities.

 

As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?

As a manufacture the trend is quite evident it is smaller technologies with higher quality output. Doing more with less. This is how 24months ago we pushed the development of SANDBUG panoramic head dedicated for mirrorless cameras.

Photographers will always want to control and decide how they take a photo to make a 360 otherwise “A/S/M” modes would not be on cameras.

 

11896185_584904474981151_7895745960582376230_n

 

How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

Panoramic photography has been produced since decades. Panorama format is very pleasant and comfortable to look at.

Now it is getting simpler, easier, and quicker to produce a 360° panorama.

Unity’s VR Editor Lets You Create VR Content Like a God

http://www.roadtovr.com/unitys-vr-editor-lets-you-create-vr-content-like-a-god/

“You can zoom out and in for different scale operations, but the most powerful aspect of the Chess Board is to allow creators to rapidly drop assets into your scene wit minimal scrolling or physical movement. This sounds fairly pedestrian, but watch as West uses the Chess Board view to grab and move an entire mountain range via the board and the world around her alter to match. Aside from making workflow in VR more efficient, as you’re in VR you instantly get a feel for the scale of the object that’s being moved and whether your intended new location for it works. Designing just as you might were you a God.”

 

One Program Lets You Use Your Entire PC In VR Without Any Fuss

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2016/03/one-program-lets-you-use-your-entire-pc-in-vr-without-any-fuss/

2D games also don’t require a great deal of horsepower to run while in Virtual Desktop. “My app is built on top of DirectX and it is very lightweight,” Godin added in another thread. “It’s very optimized. The impact on the GPU is very low. I’m able to play HOTS with a 770 in VR fluidly to give you an example.”

Virtual Desktop launches on March 28 and will cost US$15, according to Godin. A demo of the program for both the Rift’s development kits is available now via Virtual Desktop’s Steam page.

Note that you’ll want Windows 10 to get the best experience though, as Windows 7 reportedly “doesn’t have low latency APIs to capture the desktop at high frame rates to make a decent enough experience”.

ss_fdc2f21d2aa5749d770a70831237d279b04c5cc81

 

Virtuix Omni Is New And Improved – Commercial Release Tentatively Slated For Q3 2016

http://uploadvr.com/omni-commercial-release/

Ergonomically, Adams highlighted the harness and ring system that now eschews the previous rock-climbing style and instead, “wraps around your legs instead of your crotch. This has been farm more comfortable for people especially those who use the system for an extended period of time.”

omni-2

 

 

Sex Ed in VR Can Prepare Young Women for Actual Sex

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/sex-ed-in-vr-can-prepare-young-women-for-actual-sex

A box pops up on the right corner of your screen. It feeds you lines like “Hey, I was just wondering, when was your last STD test?” or “Do you have any condoms?” You choose neither. Pressing forward, you move to the bed. A buzz resonates and the screen freezes: AT-RISK BEHAVIOR, it reads. You are promptly redirected to a 3D tutorial. TRY AGAIN.

Once your turn is over, you remove the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and pass it to your classmate. She places it on her head and the simulation kicks in outside her date’s dorm room.

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‘Cardboard Enabler’ Opens Google’s VR Library to Gear VR, No Root Required

http://www.roadtovr.com/cardboard-enabler-opens-googles-vr-library-gear-vr-no-root-required/

Google Cardboard apps unfortunately can’t use the Gear VR’s special inertial measurement unit (IMU), but it does hook into your onboard touchpad for ease of use, letting you tap around with the touchpad just like you would with the capacitive button on most Cardboard viewers. The app also provides a handy step-by-step guide so you can enable Gear VR developer mode, letting you turn on global low-persistence for a much higher quality, motion-blur free experience with Cardboard apps—something we didn’t even know you could do.

google-cardboard-gearvr-1021x580

 

Ultrasound Used To Create 3D Shapes In Mid Air That Can Be Seen And Felt

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/ultrasound-used-create-3d-shapes-mid-air-can-be-seen-and-felt

The researchers, who are based at the University of Bristol, envisage that this innovative technology could transform the way that we use 3D haptic shapes. It could lead to touchable holograms to augment learning, or enhanced gaming experience by allowing users to feel features of the game, such as a football. It could even have a place in medicine, for example by allowing surgeons to physically feel tumors by exploring CT scans.

The method, which is described in ACM Transactions on Graphics, exploits an effect produced by ultrasound called acoustic radiation force, which is the scattering and absorption of the acoustic wave. By observing how sound waves behave when they hit an object, it is possible to deduce the shape of the object. The team also realized that it is possible to feel these shapes by focusing complex patterns of ultrasound onto our hands. In doing so, the researchers created air disturbances that could be felt on the skin and seen as floating 3D shapes. The ultrasound patterns cannot be seen by themselves, but the team visualized them by directing the device at a layer of oil so that depressions at the surface appeared as spots when illuminated.

 

BRITISH PATIENT TO UNDERGO WORLD’S FIRST VIRTUAL REALITY CANCER OPERATION

http://3dvrcentral.com/2016/03/25/british-patient-undergo-worlds-first-virtual-reality-cancer-operation/

An operation on a British cancer patient is to be live-streamed around the world using virtual reality technology designed to make viewers feel as if they are in the operating theatre.

It will be performed by Shafi Ahmed, a London surgeon who has been at the forefront of pioneering virtual reality technology in surgery, and who described next month’s operation as a gamechanger for healthcare innovation and education.

The patient, a British man in his 70s with cancer of the colon, has not been named but was said to be excited about the prospect of having his operation watched internationally.

Viewers will be able to watch the surgery at the Royal London hospital from 1pm on 14 April using a smartphone and virtual reality headset. The operation, which will be filmed by a number of specialist cameras placed above the operating table, is expected to last between two and three hours.

It will run a minute or so behind the surgery in case of any unforeseen complications.

Undated handout photo issued by Medical Realities of Dr Shafi Ahmed, consultant surgeon at St Bartholomew's Hospital. A British cancer patient is set to have his operation live streamed using virtual reality technology in a world first. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 25, 2016. Viewers will be able to watch the ground-breaking surgery next month using a smartphone and virtual reality headset, making them feel as if they are in the operating theatre. See PA story HEALTH VirtualReality. Photo credit should read: Medical Realities /PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday March 25, 2016. Viewers will be able to watch the ground-breaking surgery next month using a smartphone and virtual reality headset, making them feel as if they are in the operating theatre. See PA story HEALTH VirtualReality. Photo credit should read: Medical Realities /PA Wire

 

Facebook Launches Dynamic Streaming on Gear VR

http://www.vrfocus.com/2016/03/facebook-launches-dynamic-streaming-on-gear-vr/

Dynamic Streaming is a technology designed to aid the distribution of 360 degree video content. Showing only the pixels the viewer is looking at in the highest quality, Dynamic Streaming will scale down the rest of the viewable content to improve bandwidth demands and the speed at which streaming content can be transferred.

A number of 360 degree videos are available to demonstrate the technology, listed in the ‘Facebook trending’ section. Highlighted is a rhino video shot on a GoPro.

Dynamic Streaming is now available for all Gear VR owners without charge (though the video channel itself may in time offer premium content).

GearVR_005_Group-1-1024x683

 

 

Hulu Releases Virtual Reality App for Samsung Gear VR

http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/hulu-gear-vr-app-virtual-reality-1201737728/

Hulu had first announced its foray into VR back in September of 2015, but the company’s head of experience Ben Smith told Variety this week that his team decided to delay the release to get things right. “We really wanted to build an experience that we believe in,” he said.

Part of that was getting the app itself to work well, and find the best way for consumers to navigate through menus, as well as switch between immersive VR videos and Hulu’s traditional library content. But Hulu also wanted to be able to launch with enough immersive content to keep people interested beyond the first viewing session. Said Smith: “Novelty is not going to be a pleasing experience over time.”

Hulu isn’t the only video service eyeing VR. Netflix launched an app on the Gear VR last fall, but is currently giving its users access only to its regular catalog on the VR headset. Amazon recently indicated with a job posting that it is also interested in distributing VR content, but hasn’t officially announced its plans yet.

vr-pr-image-1920x1080

 

 

 

Kevin Spacey is a virtual reality hypebeast

http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/25/11305054/kevin-spacey-virtual-reality-vr

“I am a believer. I’ve been very fortunate to go and see, right up to very recently, where it all is. And I think it’s going to be revolutionary for a whole lot of reasons. First of all, let’s just think about sports […] Imagine that you can buy a ticket to be on the sidelines of a live football match while it’s happening, and be able to go… [He mimes looking around] That’s going to happen. There’s no doubt. Or a concert, that’s going to happen. Paul McCartney did a VR thing last year. Beck did one. Quite remarkably you’re so close to the stage you literally feel you’re there.

I think [virtual reality] will end up being the natural home for capturing the living theater. Because finally we can take a three dimensional experience and retain it as a three dimensional experience. I think it will work in film. Maybe not an entire film, but I think we should try and see if there are five sequences in a movie where that device, whatever it’s going to be… I don’t think it’s going to be this forever. [He mimes a large headset over his face] This reminds me of the first cell phones. I think it’s going to be quite simple, much simpler as time goes by.

But I also think of [virtual reality] in terms of education. I mean, the classroom is probably the single space that we all know that hasn’t change at all since the beginning of time. It’s a chalkboard, seats, and a teacher up front. But imagine if we can bring the best teachers in the world into that classroom. And a student can put on a headset and suddenly be at the bottom of the ocean studying science. Or be in the Globe theater watching actors rehearsing in the 16th century. Or be in the Sydney Opera House while a concert is happening.”

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Marcus Hartmann has been a friend since we were introduced by fellow panorama guru Traugott Emrich. Traugott is the guy who built the Gigapanbot, which was my go-to solution for shooting gigapixels for a few years. The trouble with shooting gigapixel photos is that after you have shot a few thousand pictures that need to be joined together, most computers, even the ones that would normally be considered “workhorses”, are simply not going to work very well. So Traugott introduced me to Marcus Hartmann who worked at Fujitsu. In the workstation department. With computers containing 192 Gigabytes of ram. Yes, that is right, 192 Gigabytes. I can hear your nerd whistles going off from here. So I of course had to meet Marcus and try this out. The Fujitsu Europe headquarters is located in Augsburg, near Munich, about 4 hours drive away from Prague. Marcus and I hit it off – he’s also an avid panorama photographer, as well as a really talented sports photographer, usually oriented towards the paralympics. Since meeting for the first time we have met a number of times both in panoramic photography oriented events, and otherwise. Here is is personal website: http://www.photo-hartmann.de/

 

When did you first become obsessed with photography? And what else are you obsessed with, besides photography?

2002… I started as a music and band photographer. Before I was doing live band lighting and live video performance. Later I focused on sports mainly motorsports, alpine skiing and athletics. Other obsessions? Definitely! I am Vespa rider. I own three old Italian originals from the 70s and 80s, that I rebuild myself.

 

6

 

How did you discover 360 photography? When was it and what happened next?

While I was working in the product management of workstations at Fujitsu I came across Hugin, a free panoramic stiching app. The strong CELSIUS workstations worked nicely with this cool software. I shot my first panorama in Dresden/Germany during a computer simulations tradeshow in 2008. The demo equipment was already in place and had great demo applications for fast data processing. Some weeks later I got in contact with Traugott Emrich who is living close to my hometown Augsburg. We had some beers and discovered new ideas how to shoot highresolution gigapixel panoramas. Traugott mentioned a guy from Prag who was shooting a massive amount of photos in London with one of his selfmade panorama robots (GigaPanBot). The problem was, he did not have the compute capacities to process the data. One day later I got a call from Jeffrey Martin, the founder of 360cites. In 2010 I built the first CELSIUS “Monster” workstation with whooping 192GB of RAM, 32 CPU cores and 8 disks. London 80Gigapixel became a world record.

 

Are you a professional or amateur photographer?

I am Pro.

 

Do you travel much to do your photography?

Yes. My next big trip goes to the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.

 

What kind of photography do you like the best? and of what kinds of things?

I am a hunter style photographer since my beginning in 2003. I rarely organize shoots or scenes. I like to anticipate and wait for the right moment. I shot sports, fast action and strong characters.. I love fisheye lenses and shoot spheres from high poles.

6 (3)

What is your opinion on today’s state of VR? Will VR, as we know it now, hit the Mainstream in the next 12 months?

First I would like to separate VR into two different categories: Virtual reality and spherical content. VR, in the world of professional computer aided design, is a tool to visualize 3D scenes for reviews. Realistic scenes, products and models will be rendered on high performance computers with big graphic cards in realtime. In the mechanical design industry we can find 3D visualizations since a couple of years now. The power walls and projection caves in the automotive industry are a very good example. Stereoscopic displays and Stereo projections have been also very popular over the last 10 years. Stereo was also introduced to the gaming software industry some years ago. 3D-Gaming is very similar to 3D-Design, the only difference is quality and size. Games provide a wider range a variants and scenes, while CAD is focused on the best visual quality and high amount of details. Both, players and engineer are “working” in the 3D space. Since Oculus Rift is available, software vendors in both markets are integrating this technology. The calculations power of currents graphics hardware can satisfy gamers but not designers. They need greater detail and visual quality. Spherical content like panorama photos and 360 degree movies, are recordings of the real world. Most people call it VR (virtual reality) even it is not virtual! You can just “walk” on the timeline and turn our heard around. Spherical photos are great fun to shoot and to view. They can give you a immersive view of a real scenery. Watching gigapixel panoramas is even greater and you can discover so many things on such huge photos. But, hey you can not modify or change anything like you do in a game. No tools, no different viewpoint, just watching. VR for designers will stay the high end technology. I don’t think it will go mainstream ever. There is too much complexity in it. VR as we see it in computer games, panoramic photography, gigapixels and virtual tours are mainstream already. Since google streetview, most people know this kind of interactive images. 360video cameras for consumer are already available. The GoPro Rigs address professionals, but they need quite some post processing and adjustments. Theta S, Keymission360 or 360Fly can be used without processing. This is game changer and open the door to the consumer market. It has the potential to become a hype like action cams and selfie sticks. As Facebook and Samsung are pushing their products now, we can expect greater visibility for that kind of media and imagery. We still need some time to develop distribution channels for professional content. I don’t think 360video is going Mainstream in the next 12 month.

6 (1)

Who are some of the interesting companies or people who are getting into VR / 360 Photography these days?

When Kolor joined the Gopro family I was thrilled.  Lets see was they will come along with. Facebook/Oculus and Samsung are about to push the market heavily. The GearVR as giveaway with Galaxy S7 is statement. Ricoh did it right with Theta, the first versions of the cameras are promising. But the resolution and quality is poor when you compare to GoPro rigs. Nikon can change a lot with their development resources and set a new level of quality and features with KeyMission360. I hope that Sphericam can beat the Nikon. The body design has already beat every other camera. Every company that focuses on content creation and distribution will be interesting.

 

What is your opinion about 360 Video?

Well, I would love to see 360video becoming more relevant in the future. I am not sure if it will be a success. Stereoscopic 3D made it into consumer TVs and now it seems to disappear. I wonder who will be the first company that enables 360 live video in their instant messaging.

6 (2)

As a pioneer in building the equipment that panoramic photographers use, what kind of trends have you noticed in the last years / decade that might not be obvious to other people?

There are some really bulky panorama heads out there. The first panohead I have every seen was the Manfrotto 303. Compare this massive device with the well build Bushman tools! After some DIY heads, I purchased  a Nodal Ninja Ring Mount + R1 Rotor for my Sigma 8mm fisheye. I am still using this head with a Canon 8-15 fisheye. If I was on a mirrorless camera, I would pick a head from TomShot360 plus a Samyang fisheye lens. In a nutshell, panoramic equipment hat to be simple, robust and small. For 360 video I found the Elmo Qbic panoramic rig with very interesting. It’s a pity, that its not very robust and has no option to sync frames and settings. Here is a great concept of a 360 ball camera: http://www.serveball.com/ Looks like many others are working on the same concept. At fmx2015 I met a guy from Belgium, Philippe Bekaert. He was showcasing a selfmade 360 camera rig and processing unit for realtime stiching and depthmap. Sadly he did never offer a commercial product. Here you can find a 360video he shot in 2011: https://vimeo.com/22985765

 

How do you think our panoramic medium will evolve over the next years or decades?

I hope it will be part of our daily life. My dream is a life stream directly into a HMD.