GoPro and YouTube are gearing up for an explosion in 360 degree VR videos shot on action camera rigs like the Odyssey then shared and streamed on Google's mega-site and watched on VR headsets.
We've known GoPro was getting into VR for a while, after it bought interactive software company Kolor, released professional spherical mounts and shared sample 4K, 360 degree videos to show what is possible back in April.
Now the action cam maker has announced a limited pre-order program for its 16-camera, 8K-shooting Odyssey rig, which is available to 'qualified' professionals only for a whopping $15,000. It packs 16 synchronised Hero4 Black cameras, loaded with custom firmware, as well as the panoramic capture rig to hold them all in place, microSD cards, array bacpacs (removable displays), cables, accessories and a case. The Odyssey rig is rugged but not waterproof - those shallow sea shenanigans for VR will have to wait.
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Delivery is set for later in 2015 but the application process, aimed at professional producers and directors, for the Limited Access Program (LAP) is open now.
Odyssey is designed to work with Google's VR platform, Jump, which includes an assembler tool for creators and editors to process the 360 degree, 3D footage and will also launch later this year alongside a 360 degree YouTube player for VR hardware.
The camera rig is capable of shooting 2K or 8K footage at 25 or 30 fps and the final picture is a 2.7K resolution with a 4:3 ratio. After stitching in Google's software, the video file formats are MP4. The rig weighs 6.57kg and its dimensions are 294.6mm x 65.8mm.
As the Hero4 Black cameras only provide 16 internal mono microphones, filmmakers can also buy a 3.5mm mic adapter to add an external stereo microphone.
GoPro isn't the only camera manufacturer wooing both Hollywood's studio system and the growing number of dedicated VR production houses. In July, Nokia announced its OZO camera ball - it has eight synchronised cameras and, though it hasn't been priced up yet, is also due by the end of the year.
It's a good sign as we need more live action VR to counterbalance the CG animation being produced, and creators like Jaunt are already on board with Nokia's system. That said, it's clear that for 2015 and 2016 at least it will cost a lot of money to produce high quality VR films and shorts with GoPro and Nokia's kit.
Still, mobile VR headsets mean that plenty of us will be able to watch whatever filmmakers come up with.
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