Facebook Reveals “Surround 360” Open Source VR Camera

Facebook Reveals “Surround 360” Open Source VR Camera 

At the F8 developer conference, Facebook disclosed the ‘Surround 360,’ an open source VR camera. Facebook expects to get 360-degree video on News Feed and VR content on Oculus Rift. 

Like a UFA, the surround 360 is a reference design for high-end video capture system with 17-lens 3D VR camera. The social media giant plans to release it on GitHub as an open-source project. The rig has 14 wide-angle cameras, two at the bottom and one fish-eye camera on the top. It can shoot high-quality footage in 4K, 6K and even in 8K resolution. This will permit the camera to capture the surrounds without viewing the pole that holds the camera. 

Shaped like a flying saucer, Facebook Surround 360 uses a 17-camera array and along with web-based software to capture images in 360 degrees and render them automatically. Facebook says the design resolves a variety of technical problems with 360-degree video capture better than anything now available on the market and is inspiring manufacturers and hobbyists to use its designs to build cameras of their own.

It costs $30,000 to purchase the materials required to build a Surround 360, Facebook says. Work on the project began about a year ago as Facebook began to fixate about bringing more video to the feed. Cox says Facebook has no interest in becoming a camera maker. Brian Cabral, a director of engineering who led the project, saysIt costs $30,000 to buy the materials necessary to build Surround 360, Facebook says “My goal is to put myself out of a job.”  

The company said that the Facebook Surround 360 can run for long times, without heating up.  The camera can shoot in resolutions up to 8K, and videos can be seen on the Facebook mobile application, the Samsung Gear VR, and the Oculus Rift.

“We do not have ambitions of getting into the camera business, but we realize there wasn’t a good reference camera,” Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox told reporters Monday. The four main draws of the Surround 360 camera:

• Extremely high-quality footage: its 17 4-megapixel lenses can shoot in 4K, 6K, and even 8K, dumping the 30-gigabit per second data to a hard drive over USB. The one fish eye lens on top and two on the bottom mean there’s no hole in the footage above or beneath you, and the pole the camera stands on disappears.
• Portability: It’s designed to handle frequent plane flights, and its rolling base makes it simple to move around.
• Durability: Its aluminum casing can be quickly assembled and disassembled, it will survive tough conditions like the desert and it can shoot for hours straight without overheating.

• Near zero post-production required: By using genlocking to connect all the lenses, the software can do less work so the footage is ready for distribution an order of magnitude faster, in a day rather than weeks.

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