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In a surprise announcement at SDC, Samsung revealed Project Beyond, a 360 degree 3D camera for filming virtual reality content. We got to take a look at the unit first hand and experience the VR video that it captures.

Project Beyond was designed by a small research team within Samsung called the Think Tank Team which is located in San Jose, California.

After trying the out videos provided by Project Beyond, the content shown was pretty neat. There was a series of videos that were mashed together during the demo giving a quick glimpse into what the camera can do.

project beyond lighthouse scene

One of the experiences shows a windy beach day where salty ocean waves continuously slapped up against the shore. This was filmed at Pescadero Beach on the western side of Northern California. The following scene was located at Pidgeon Point Lighthouse where a collection of people watch the water nearby. Being that this was mostly a static environment, details of the fence surrounding the camera could be seen. Looking closely, I could see the chipped paint that has been assaulted by the wind and waves. Another video features the San Francisco art museum where the I could check out the area surrounding the building. After the art museum was a fun clip of a Halloween party were people in costumes joyfully moved and circled around the camera in an office room. Some wore Power Rangers outfits, and another was wearing a Pikachu costume.

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Beyond_in_actionThe Project Beyond website describes the footages captured by the camera as “stunning high-resolution 3D,” though we were left wanting. At times, it seemed like segments of the footage were blurry when dealing with moving objects. Items that remained still allowed details to be seen, but trying to view the specifics while something flew across the screen was difficult. Some objects seemed to be captured much more impressively than others; particularly in the lighthouse scene the fence seemed very detailed, though less defined patterns like grass seemed blurry.

The stitching, the alignment of overlapping camera views, seemed good for the most part but could be seen somewhat when there were well defined objects passing over the stitching boundaries.

A representative noted that the footage on display had to be compressed in order to run on the Gear VR headset, so it’s possible that we’ve yet to see the full capture quality of Project Beyond.

While on stage at the SDC keynote, Pranav Mistry, Vice President and Head of Think Tank Team, said, “What we’re talking about is live streaming videos. It captures more than 1GB of 360-degree 3D content every single second.” If the camera can stream content, the stitching and depth are presumably processed in real time. There is no info yet on whether the camera will be used for commercial or consumer use, but the design lends us to guess the latter. The Project Beyond website notes, “This is the first operational version of the device, and just a taste of what the final system we are working on will be capable of.”

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Additional details for the rig shows that it contains 16 full HD cameras embedded around the outside of the device. There is another camera on top looking up as well. A plastic body holds all the electronics inside together. An image sensor and controller sits within the middle of all the cameras. The system processing and storage circuit lies underneath. There is an internal power source too which means that this setup can likely power itself when taken on the road. Currently the camera has no audio capture.

Although the camera itself won’t be available for purchase immediately, content generated from Project Beyond will be available for  Gear VR.

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  • David Mulder

    Did they say anything about whether their player will be released for the Rift as well? I mean, no doubt it will be possible somehow, but just wondering whether they will officially support it or whether it will be something that video content creators will have to go out of their way to support.

    • kendoka15

      If the videos captured are in the normal 360 3d stitched format, then I don’t see why current 360 3d video players wouldn’t work with them

  • cly3d

    It would be great to get a few seconds of some of this test video to evaluate the end-result.

    Also, I’ve noticed a single camera aimed at the Zenith. There’s a mistaken premise that stereo is not needed in that… quadrant. While that might be true for outdoor and vista scenes, what happens at an indoor shoot?

    Anyone know what the VFov is?
    Regards.