Facebook Unveils ‘Surround 360’ an ‘Open’ 3D 360 Camera and Video Stitching Pipeline

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At Facebook’s developer conference F8 in San Francisco today, the company have unveiled their latest push into the immersive, VR video arena – a rugged, production ready 360 3D camera and video stitching pipeline capable of 8k per eye spherical images.

Facebook’s F8 conference kicks off today and the social media giant, and owner of Oculus, have once again demonstrated they have an eye on the future of immersive media by unveiling an “open”, professional grade 3D 360 video camera along with a stitching solution to match.

The “high quality, production ready, 3D, 360 hardware and software video capture system” (phew!) comprise plans and designs for constructing the 3D 360 camera hardware, a system made up of a rugged aluminium body, housing 17 cameras, all synced with global shutter – with 14 alone spanning the circumference of the camera, leaving one fisheye camera pointing up and two further shooting down.

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The 14 individual wide angle cameras are capable of capturing imagery at 2048×2048 (4.1megapixels) pixels at 60FPS with an FOV of 77 degrees. Facebook claims that the design means the cameras can run for hours without overheating, and thanks to global shutter, rolling shutter artefacts on moving images are taken care of. Components used within the camera are apparently entirely off the shelf.

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The capture system provided by Facebook comprises:

  • The hardware (the camera and control computer)
  • The camera control software (for synchronized capture)
  • The stitching and rendering software

The camera system is capable of outputting a stitched, 360 video at up to 8k per eye and Facebook are lining up their Dynamic Streaming system, first unveiled in February for the Gear VR headset, to deliver this high bandwidth, high quality content.

Obvious parallels of course must be made to a similar initiative, launched by search giant Google at their I/O conference last year. Similarly branded as ‘open’, with the Odyssey reference camera design and Google’s ‘Assembler’ stitching software.

You can dig in to more detail on the new initiative over at Facebook’s page here.

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