While other VR cameras require separate stitching and encoding hardware, Reality Lab Networks new VR camera comes with it built in. Halsey Minor, the company’s CEO, promises you’ll be up and streaming live VR in 15 minutes or less!
Chapter 1: A new type of VR camera (0:40)
One of the barriers holding back the creation of VR content is the many steps it takes to create a finished experience. Typically, there is a camera array which captures the raw video views. These are then handed off to a stitcher, which combines them into a 360º view. This is then handed off to encoder, which compresses the video. The process is long and can be very expensive if professional results are the goal.
The new camera from Reality Lab Networks, called Live Planet, seeks to change all that. In this interview with the company’s CEO, Halsey Minor, he describes how the new camera combines stitching and encoding into its new camera. The device is about the size of two apples, and can deliver a live VR experience directly to the company’s cloud software. The cloud software re-encodes it to match any profile of a receiving device.
Chapter 2: Up-and-livecasting in 15 minutes (2:50)
Because of the integration of stitching and encoding into the camera, Mr. Halsey says a user can be livecasting VR within 15 minutes of unpacking the camera. Obviously, if this claim is true it could be revolutionary for the VR industry.
Chapter 3: Robustness of the camera (4:25)
Many of the other cameras on the market are precisely aligned and must be handled very carefully. This is not the case, according to Mr. Halsey, with his new camera. It is able to withstand some abuse on the road. He says if the camera is bumped there is a simple procedure to instantly realign the images.
Chapter 4: An out-of-body experience (5:40)
The demonstration I saw before the interview was impressive. Mr. Minor had two of the existing generation of cameras, not the new model, set up in the room. He gave me a Samsung Gear VR headset equipped with a Galaxy S6. I was able to watch my interview with Mr. Minor from across the room. This gave me an almost out-of-body experience.
Chapter 5: The price (6:00)
The first 500 units will be sold for $4,995. After that the price increases to $9,950.
Chapter 6: Immediate application for the camera (6:35)
Mr. Halsey reality TV produces that have seen the technology are anxious to get the camera. He says the genre is particularly well placed to take advantage of VR. There are no licensing issues, and fans are very keen to get “up-close” with the reality stars. He thinks sports is another exciting application, but that rights and production issues means it will take longer to implement.
The Live Planet camera is available immediately to order. Units are expected to ship in the fourth quarter.