360 Designs have revealed a new drone which carries the company’s 6k 360 VR video camera and a payload capable of broadcasting that imagery “over 5 miles” from a companion base station, which the company says means live-streamable, “broadcast quality” aerial 360 video is now a possibility.

Another example of how the rapid advance of video compression and transmission techniques continue to open surprising possibilities, the ‘Flying Eye’ from San Francisco and LA based company 360 Designs is here and it can deliver high resolution VR video shot from 100s of metres up.

The specialised UAV drone is actually a MATRICE 600 PRO from DJI, but the device is well suited to carrying the company’s Flying Eye 3 Mini 360 video camera, a device capable of shooting at 6k/30FPS in 10bit colour, albeit monoscopic. The real USP however is when the above hear is paired with a dedicated ‘Breeze 6k’ ground station, which then allows the drone to roam 5 miles or more from lift off and still transmit a compressed HVEC (H.265) back for live spherical stitching and subsequent transmission.

“We wanted to create a broadcast quality live 360 drone platform for professionals, so they can create stunning live VR productions, with or without the drone in shot,” said Alx Klive, CEO of 360 Designs. “The sky is no longer the limit.”

Despite the lack of stereoscopy, the Mini Eye 3 360 camera boasts some impressive optical attributes such as a claimed 450 degrees of horizontal with 30 degrees of FOV overlap “per stitch line for post production” as well as 380 degrees of vertical FOV with “no zenith or nadir hole.”

As you might expect however, this is all aimed at professionals, with the ‘Flying Eye’ package starting at a cool $75,000 with the company due to demonstrate its new offering at NAB 2017, which kicks off this week in Las Vegas.

Of course, the VR community are divided on whether spherical 360 video, especially without stereoscopy, offers a suitably immersive experience to be treated as true VR content. Regardless, 360 Designs system looks like an interesting prospect for video professionals smitten by aerial 360 footage.

Newsletter graphic

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information.

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.
  • Lucidfeuer

    I’m trying to set up a personal home VR PC server over direct fiber through local wirelessHD (At home, a PC server connected through fiber rerouted directly to a local/office internet box equipped with WifiAD and WirelessHD) to test if I can stream with no-latency to a wireless VR headset. I’m glad to see these people could wireless stream 6K footage over 5 miles, but the challenge is of course over positional/headtracking latency.

  • Bryan Ischo

    360 degree video is NOT VR and should NOT be described as “VR video”.

    roadtovr, I read your site every day and I like it alot but I cannot understand why you continue to propogate this inappropriate phrasing that just misleads everyone.

    • Firstly, I included a paragraph addressing this subject, so calling it misleading is claptrap. Secondly, would you like to point me to the universally agreed definition which excludes 360 video from being counted among the many media types which can be enjoyed immersively using a VR headset? As far as I know there isn’t one, and therefore any assertion otherwise is opinion, not fact as you portray in your post.

      • Bryan Ischo

        Well since there is no universally agreed upon definition of what VR is, you know as well as I do that your request is impossible to satisfy, and we both know that when I said that 360 degree video is not VR, I did not mean that it doesn’t satisfy the criteria of a nonexistent definition. I think you know what I meant but are choosing to argue semantics because you don’t actually want to deal with the real point.

        The real point is that every announcement of a new camera or technology that allows 360 degree video, that equates that technology with VR, is diluting the concept of VR and introducing noise into an already noisy space. That’s my position; of course you can disagree. But I’d appreciate it if you’d discuss the position instead of arguing semantics.

        Also, stating opinion as fact is a shortcut that everyone engages in ALL OF THE TIME so again please stop arguing ridiculous semantics. It’s patently obvious that I am expressing an opinion, to the degree that I don’t have to actually say that I am expressing an opinion in order for that to be clear.

        Here’s the logical endpoint of arguing that 360 degree video should be touted as VR: let’s call watching TV virtual reality OK? Because it’s like I’m actually looking through a window into another world isn’t it? And that world is even more real looking than computer rendered VR imagery. So why aren’t we putting up news articles about the latest flat screen TV with the title “Samsung enables new high quality VR viewing with their latest 55 inch LED TV”? Obviously it’s because we all know that watching TV, even though it has aspects of viewing an alternate reality (i.e. the window into another world I can see through my TV screen), is not virtual reality.

        Although there is no strict definition of VR, I would like to say that no technology should be claimed to even be in the same neighborhood as VR if it doesn’t have:

        – Represention of a viewpoint that is coincident with normal human viewing (i.e. the world should be rendered around my head in all directions from the same viewpoint that I would have if I were actually there)
        – Stereoscopy

        360 video kind of has the first point, but it’s completely lacking in stereoscopy. Therefore we really shouldn’t be talking about it on a VR site.

        This is my opinion, in case it wasn’t obvious and you need me to tell you that.

        • PrymeFactor

          Yes, we all know the little quadcopters DJI makes aren’t technically ‘drones’, but everyone calls them that.
          This is kinda like the same thing. Most people call 360 videos ‘VR’. Best to accept it as such.

          No point in being churlish about this definition and calling it ‘noise’ when it’s probably the most popular content consumed in VR headsets and is a popular selling point for hardware.

          • Bryan Ischo

            No point in being churlish on the Internet??? Surely you jest!

        • 360 degree video is NOT VR and should NOT be described as “VR video”.

          Had you presented your comment as an opinion, there would have been no need for my response – but you didn’t, you stated as fact that 360 Video is not VR. This isn’t semantics, it’s the way the English language is read and interpreted.

          And as I’ve already said, I dealt with your point (prior to you even making it) within the article body and I placed there deliberately to ensure those coming to the subject cold had the context they needed to begin to form their own opinion on the matter. You’ve argued yourself in a knot over something that I’ve already expressed.

          It would have been so much more constructive had you begun the conversation with your last response, prefixing it with. “OK, here’s why I think the term ‘VR video’ is potentially misleading,” – that would have been great!

          • Bryan Ischo

            Agreed to your last point. My apologies for my unnecessary terseness.

  • PrymeFactor

    I don’t think stereoscopy matters when it’s an aerial video from hundreds of feet in the air. At that distance from anything, monoscopic video does just as well