8i, a startup based in New Zealand, has unveiled a new 3D / VR Video format based on light field technology. 8i claim to be capturing Light Fields using standard video camera arrays, resulting in video you can view from different angles in virtual reality.

Virtual reality video, cinematic VR, VR movies … the nomenclature is still being defined for a new medium being made possible by the rapid advent of consumer virtual reality. So rapid in fact that the technology is evolving faster then the language.

Virtual reality video experiences are a big deal and it seem, right now, everyone in Hollywood and beyond is scrambling to stake a claim in the wild VR frontier. 8i are another company joining the fray, this time with an innovative approach to capturing immersive video content for use in VR – they call it ‘3D Video’.

The technology involves 2 or more cameras, capturing a subject or a scene from multiple angles and using those viewpoints to construct ‘light fields’ of that scene. The upshot is a video stream that you can positionally move around (with limitations) unlike standard, linear, single PoV content – where your view is restricted to the spot the content was captured.

Whether the system qualifies as ‘light field’ based is up for debate, but the upshot of capturing content using 8i’s system is video far more suitable for creating VR experiences. You can dodge and lean into the scene whilst looking around in 360 degrees.

8i have already released demonstration software you can try, either via your web browser or a standalone Oculus Rift launcher. The first content to appear on the platform is a series of video portraits with personalities speaking direct to the camera.

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From what we’ve seen, the system is quite effective, although demo’s thus far seem to be limited to green-screened single-subject content (i.e. a single actor in the frame), so it’s not clear whether the system is capable of capturing full scenes. Also, as the content is shot only from 2 static points of view, you only have information for the side of the actor facing those cameras – with a sort of ghostly tailing off of information the their rear.

You can grab the Oculus Rift downloader for PC here and you can check out the #100Humans portrait series in your web browser here.

We’ll be reaching out to 8i to help fill in some of the technology blanks we have right now. In the mean time, 8i’s solution does appear to offer a low cost solution to immersive video. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what type of content 8i see their technology being suitable for.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • brandon9271

    I think we’ll see this used in video games as a modern equivalent to FMV.. I know it’s for 3d ‘movies’ but if you have to place the actor in a CG scene it doesn’t seem that different than a 3d version of 90s FMV.. but a know it’s too early to tell at this point. Looks cool either way

  • jaymo

    Reflections appear baked in and don’t change when perspective does in the video, so this right now doesn’t seem to have to do much with lightfields. It’s pretty neat though and will definitely have it’s place in near term VR. You can do stuff like with the video billboards in the kite & lightning demos without restraining movement, which is powerful. Until we can have real lightfields. ;)

  • owen

    I assume it’s a point cloud.. not a lightfield

  • owen