Friday, April 22, 2016

You can now preorder the 360Fly 4K 360-degree action camera

360fly 4K
You can now preorder the 360fly 4k, direct from 360fly.  The 360fly 4k is currently one of the few 4k 360 cameras that are waterproof. 


Key features:
  • 16mp sensor
  • seamless 360 images 
  • Photo resolution: 2880 x 2880 (8 megapixels)
  • Video resolution: 4k
  • 64GB internal memory
  • water resistant to 1 atm (10 meters), dustproof, shockproof
  • built-in gyroscope and non-assisted GPS
  • timelapse mode
  • motion activation
  • sound activation
  • 360-degree livestreaming with Livit app
The preorder price is $499.




COMPETITION
The preorder comes at a key time, with the recently-announced delay of the Nikon KeyMission 360 which is also a waterproof 4k 360-degree action camera.  With the Keymission's delay, the primary competitor of the 360fly 4k would be the Kodak SP360 4k, which is also hemispherical and also waterproof, but includes stitching software and a special bracket to combine two units for a fully spherical image.




There are some other 360 cameras with 4k 360 video capability but are not waterproof, such as the Samsung Gear 360 (splashproof) and Insta360 4k.  Other 360 cameras don't have 4k capability nor are waterproof but cost significantly less and/or have a fully spherical view (such as the Ricoh Theta S and the LG 360 Cam).  Finally, there are several low-cost 360 cameras from Chinese companies that are not waterproof but have a waterproof enclosure.




Meanwhile, 360fly and BestBuy continue to sell the 360fly 4k's predecessor, the 360fly HD.

Detu Sphere 800 now just $106 on eBay


The 8mp hemispherical Detu Sphere 800 (previewed here) is now being listed on eBay at a lower price.  Originally offered on Amazon at $145, several eBay sellers are now selling it for around $106 shipped:




You can find the listings by searching "detu 360". 

Samsung Gear 360 Camera preorders sold out



Will Samsung Gear 360 become the most popular 360-degree camera, taking the crown away from the Ricoh Theta S?  VRandFun.com reports that the Samsung Gear 360 preorders sold out within minutes in Korea, after Samsung began accepting preorders.



In the US and other regions, preorders have not officially begun, although one retailer has already begun accepting preorders.



The popularity of the Samsung Gear 360 in Korea may or may not be indicative of its popularity in other regions.  Samsung controls the Korean smartphone market, but in the US, the most popular smartphone is still the iPhone.



COMPATIBILITY ISSUE
Thus far, Samsung has said that the Gear 360 app, required for controlling the camera, is only compatible with high-end Samsung phones: the Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, S7, S7 edge, and Note 5.



Technically, it is possible for Samsung to allow other phones to connect with the Gear 360.  However, their tight rein on the Samsung Gear VR and the Milk VR store has shown that they are willing to have a closed system.  In particular, Samsung has prevented other Android phones from running the apps on the Milk VR store.  That may indicate that Samsung will likewise be unwilling to allow other phones to run the Gear 360 app.



For related posts on the Gear 360, click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

You can now preorder the Samsung Gear 360 in the US

At least one US retailer is now allowing preorders for the Samsung Gear 360.  Adorama is allowing orders for the Samsung Gear 360 for $399.99.  The price is higher than the price previously shown on B&H's website of $350 (which has since been removed), and is higher than the MSRP in Korea (approximately $350).

It is not yet confirmed whether the US retail price will be $350 or $400, and it is not known whether Adorama will do a price match if the MSRP is lower than $400.  It is also not known what Adorama would do if the price turns out to be higher (will it cancel the preorders?).

NOTE: Please note that Samsung said that the Gear 360 app (required for controlling the Gear 360 camera) is compatible with only some high-end Samsung phones.

For related posts on the Gear 360, click here.

Samsung Gear 360 Release Date on April 29 Confirmed



Samsung has begun taking preorders for the much-awaited Samsung Gear 360 camera, in Korea.  According to Yonhap News, the official release date is April 29.  This is the same date that was previously shown on B&H's website, but has since been removed.


For related posts on the Gear 360, click here.

Shuoying PDV3600 - Fully Spherical 360 Camera



Here's a 360 camera from original equipment manufacturer Shuoying.  The PDV3600 has two fisheye lenses, back-to-back for a fully spherical 360 view.

Basic specs:
Sensor: 8mp CMOS x 2
Field of view: 360 x 360
Aperture: f/2
Photo resolution: 3024 x 1512
Video resolution: 1080p 30fps
Memory: 8 to 32GB MicroSD
Battery life: 1 hour


Here is a video by ARMDevices.net:



Thanks to ARMDevices (@Charbax) and the AtomicSupermen blog (@MikeCane) for spotting this!

Huge Discount on Panono Bundle!

The Panono is currently the highest resolving fully spherical camera (108 megapixels).  With 36 lenses all over the camera, it has no blind spots, and has very high image quality.


Now you can get the Panono at a huge discount on a bundle!  The bundle includes: a Panono camera, a custom Panono case, and a tripod adapter.



To get the offer:
"Simply go to https://shop.panono.com/#/en?coupon and enter the voucher code PANONO-15 . The code is valid until May 6th, 2016.  By the way: We're shipping within 24 hours!"



Note: to get the discount, you have to use the URL above as well as enter the promo code.



To see related posts on the Panono, click here, or on one of the labels/tags (below the sharing buttons).

How to Do a 360 Livestream in YouTube


YouTube recently announced 360 livestreaming, and hosted the first livestreamed music performance on YouTube last night.  You, too, can do a 360 livestream.  Here's how.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Expensive 360 Cameras Being Thrown

These photographers are throwing their €1,500 German-made cameras.


EleCam 360: compact fully spherical camera with high-quality Sony sensor

There are many new 360 cameras from China, but the majority of them use a hemispherical design.  One upcoming camera that is fully spherical is Elephone's EleCam 360, and it has a high-quality Sony sensor.

​The EleCam 360 is a compact 360-degree camera with two back-to-back lenses which together provide full spherical coverage.  The lenses have an aperture of f/2. 


One of the attractive features of the EleCam 360 is its sensors.  Each of its lenses is paired with a Sony IMX117 sensor.  The IMX117 sensor is a 12mp 1/2.3" backside-illuminated CMOS sensor.  The IMX117 is the same kind of sensor used in the GoPro Hero 3 camera, which garnered the highest DXO Mobile score in video when it was released.  It is also used in Elephone's own ELE Explorer action camera


Both the GoPro Hero 3 and ELE Explorer are capable of 4k video at 24fps.  However, it is not known whether the EleCam 360's video resolution will also be capable of 4k, nor did Elephone disclose the final resolution of still images from the Elecam 360.


Elephone has not disclosed the pricing or release date for the EleCam 360.

UPDATE: Now available for preorder

Nikon KeyMission 360 Release Date Delayed to October 2016



The release date for Nikon's much-anticipated KeyMission 360 camera has been pushed to October 2016, according to an official announcement from Nikon.  Nikon attributed the delays to the need to work on the software.

It is not clear from the announcement whether Nikon is referring to the internal software of the camera (e.g. for stitching) or to the editing software, or both.

In January's CES, Nikon previously announced that the KeyMission would be released in Spring 2016.

For related posts on the KeyMission click here or in the related label/tag (below the sharing buttons).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

High resolution 3D 360 video with Condition One's Bison

Condition One's Bison camera
Copyright by Condition One. Used with permission


San Francisco-based Condition One announced their Bison camera, which can capture 3D, 360-degree video at 5.7k resolution and 48fps. The camera has 16 lenses and sensors, and also features 3D positional audio.


Here are some sample shots from the Bison camera:


Copyright by Condition One.  Used with permission.

Copyright by Condition One.  Used with permission.


The camera will not be sold to the public and will instead be offered as part of Condition One's end-to-end VR production services.



Official website: www.conditionone.com

2016 Epson Pano Awards now open!


The 2016 Epson International Pano Awards are now open for entries.  The Pano Awards began in 2009 and recognizes the best of panoramic photography, (including a VR/360 category since 2011).  The prize pool is worth over $60,000, including $25,000 in cash.

Last year's contest had 4,345 entries from 60 countries.  Below is last year's Major Open Award Winner by Max Rive of Netherlands:


Here are the top 20 entries for the VR/360 category for 2015.

Notably, the rules are more respectful of photographers' copyright than other competitions.   While other contests give the organizers as many rights as an owner to control a submitted image, including selling and sublicensing the image, the Pano Awards rules state that their license is for "marketing and promotional purposes of the event only" (emphasis in the original).


GoPro VR platform allows videos from other cameras

Yesterday, together with announcing the details for its Omni rig, GoPro also launched the GoPro VR platform for sharing 360 videos.  It appears that GoPro is allowing videos from other cameras on GoPro VR.

For example, here is an excerpt from the video entitled, Ski in French Alps:




The stitching of the hand and the silhouette on the snow seem to show that this is a slim 2-lens camera.  GoPro has no known cameras with such a design.  By comparison, here is the distinctive silhouette of the GoPro Omni:






Rather, the 2-lens camera seems to be from a Ricoh Theta.



SO WHAT?



Given that GoPro is allowing other cameras' content on their platform, why would you want to put your video on GoPro VR?  It has several advantages:
- Accessible by app (iOS and Android) or by browser.  Some 360 content sharing platforms are app-only or browser-only.  GoPro VR allows your image to be seen either on a desktop via browser or on a smart device.
- Flexible viewing controls.  Some platforms limit the 360 view to panning (e.g. YouTube).  GoPro VR allows the viewer to play a more active role and view the image with full control, for example as a tiny planet, or rabbit hole, vertically (portrait orientation) or horizontally (landscape orientation), in addition to presenting it in standard view or Google Cardboard view.







- High resolution: some platforms, such as YouTube and MettaVR, seem to reduce the image quality of your video, to decrease the bandwidth and make the stream appear smoother.  GoPro VR seems to have a higher maximum image quality, as shown by GoPro's featured videos.


Nonetheless, there are some questions:
- Visibility: how large will the user base be, and how visible will your content be?  Right now, YouTube seems to have the largest share of 360 videos, and it has the resources of Google to back it up.
- Will GoPro VR add support for 3D 360 videos?
- Will GoPro add support for 360 photos?



In any case, it will be interesting to see how large of a role GoPro VR will have among 360 content sharing platforms.

Quantum Leap Pro 3D 360 Livestreaming Camera and Live Planet VR Broadcast System

CNET founder Halsey Minor created a 3D 360 video camera and a VR broadcasting system.

QUANTUM LEAP PRO

Quantum Leap Pro is a video camera that can livestream 3D 360 video with 4k resolution (4k per eye).  It has 16 lenses, each matched with 18 megapixel sensors, arranged radially.  The camera is able to livestream 3D 360 video wirelessly over a Verizon LTE connection to a Samsung Gear VR in realtime, at 25 fps.

Quantum Leap Pro will be priced at under $10,000 and will be available Q4 of 2016.  There will be a discount of at least 5% for payments using the cryptocurrency Voxelus.

LIVE PLANET


Live Planet is an end-to-end cloud-based platform for creating, managing and distributing 3D 360 video in broadcast quality.  The software can adjust its encoding dynamically based on bandwidth and the platform's resources.

Official website here.

Rumor: Nikon Keymission will have Sony sensor



The Nikon Keymission 360 will have a high sensitivity Sony sensor, claims Japanese website ActionCam ( http://wearablecam.wp.xdomain.jp/box/260/ ). It appears they are basing their claim on the fact that sensors used in several of Nikon's DSLRs are made by Sony.

Sony sensors tend to have good dynamic range and wide exposure latitude, so if this is true, this, coupled with Nikon's lens expertise, may bode well for the Keymission's image quality.

Monday, April 18, 2016

YouTube Adds 360 Livestreaming and Spatial Audio

360 LIVESTREAMING
YouTube will be adding 360 livestreaming, starting with a 360 livestream of selected performances at the Coachella music festival this weekend (April 22).

SPATIAL AUDIO
YouTube is also adding spatial audio to its on-demand videos. "Just as watching a concert in 360 degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role," says Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan.  For example if a saxophone player is on the left, turning to face the sax will make it sound like it's coming from the center instead.

Here is a playlist of some videos with spatial audio (at this time, it appears that only Android devices are supported).

YouTube is working with software companies to add support for spatial audio and 360 livestreaming.

Argon 360 offers Hardware-Based Real Time 360 Video Stitching

When stitching 360 videos, usually there is a compromise between quality and speed.  However, Argon 360 is a hardware-based real time stitching solution that can stitch 360 video in high quality, using multiband blending techniques to minimize stitching artifacts.

The Argon 360 can stitch ​at video framerates with very low latency, making it possible to use it for livestreaming.  For example, it can be used with 6 sensors (each at 1080 30fps) and stitch the videos to output 4k 30fps 360-degree video.

It is also scalable, and can be used with two sensors or several sensors, for consumer cameras or professional video.

Sennheiser's Ambeo VR Microphone

UPDATE: the microphone will be called Ambeo.

Although there are now many cameras for capturing 360 videos, there are not as many options for capturing 360 audio. One such device is Sennheiser's upcoming VR Microphone:


Unlike stereo microphones, the VR microphone will record audio from four directions. As the viewer rotates the 360-degree video, the audio will change in sync with the video. The VR microphone will be available Q4 2016. Sennheiser is also developing a dedicated VR mic for GoPro.

In addition to the VR microphone, Sennheiser is launching its first weatherproof action lavalier microphone.

Stabilized 360 Video with Ricoh Theta and Luuv



Image stabilization makes 360 videos look much better, as shown in a demo video by solidLuuv.   
 
No, we're not advertising bongs.  This is the solidLuuv, a crowdfunded image stabilizer for small cameras (500g or less).  It has a unique design with a 3-axis gimbal and can be used with the camera on top or on the bottom of the stabilizer for low-angle shots.
 
Besides appealing to users of compact and action cameras, the Luuv team is also specifically targeting 360 cameras.


 
Luuv demonstrated how well their stabilizer works for 360 videos, using a Ricoh Theta.  Here is the video:


 
The solidLuuv can be preordered at a 20% discount for €199 + shipping.  If you're interested in ordering, you can get the solidLuuv through:
You may also be interested in a similar stabilizer called Smoovie.


8K 360 Video with GoPro Omni

GoPro announced the pricing and began preorders for its Omni rig.  The complete rig will be $5,000, which includes six Hero4 Black cameras.  The rig, which includes hardware for synchronizing the cameras, is available separately for $1,500 if you have your own Hero4 Black cameras.  The kit will also include the stitching software by Kolor Eyes, which was acquired by GoPro and was renamed to GoPro VR.



Besides the cost, using multiple cameras will require a lengthier postproduction process.  However, one of the strengths of the Omni is that it is capable of 8K video capture, with the Hero4 Black's renowned image quality.



Together with the launch of the Omni preorders, GoPro also launched the GoPro VR platform and apps, which will feature curated 360-video content.


GoPro VR for iOS

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Realtime 3D 360 VR with StereoStitch


StereoStitch, an exhibitor at NABShow, announced their software which can stitch 3D 360-degree video in real time, with both stitching and color correction in a single process.  Stereostitch claims that their software does not require a powerful computer and can even work with mobile GPUs, which can be embedded inside a camera.  They also said their software is compatible with multiple camera configurations.

As an aside, the camera depicted by StereoStitch on its website appears to be a Photoshopped version of Lytro's Immerge camera:


Coachella Music Festival in VR


You can experience the 2016 Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 360 video via an app available in Android, iOS and Samsung Gear VR. To view the app, you'll need a Google Cardboard viewer, which ticket holders received but you don't need a ticket to download the app.