State of the VR Cameras

Full article can be found on roadtovr.com.

RoadtoVR covers the different tiers of VR capture devices meant for videographers from the amateur to the professional level with the help of Pixvana’s in-house filmmaker and executive producer, Aaron Rhodes. Aaron’s Pixvana blog tests a lot of 360 VR cameras, and their recommendations are shared here.

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Currently available VR solutions

Aaron recommends the Samsung Gear 360 or the Ricoh Theta S at the entry level for their ease of use and portable form factors. Our own review of the Theta S’s little brother the m15 bears this out. Based on my own experience, Ricoh makes it easy for the casual VR videographer to capture short clips and even provides the software to stitch them together. At this price point though, big limitations such as the inability to review footage in real time, limited storage, and hardware limitations exist – not so unexpected at the under-$400 price point.

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Ricoh Theta S, capable of livestreaming
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Samsung Gear 360. Smooth integration with Samsung phones

The mid-range according to Aaron is occupied by GoPro’s Omni system, which features six synchronized HERO4 Black cameras all capable of capturing 8K content and encased by a cage chassis. GoPro includes software needed to edit your content, and at $5000 is considered an all-in-one solution for high-resolution content.

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GoPro Omni

The high-end Nokia OZO costs a dizzying $45000, but this is an acceptable expense in the face of high-end productions. The OZO is a complete solution from capture to end production designed for professionals – from the camera (a 6K, 8 synchronized cameras) to OZO software for post production, OZO Live for delivering VR to broadcast standards live, and even an SDK for developers.

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The Nokia OZO with its integrated battery/memory pack at the rear.

Now we enter into the realm of serious professionals with multi-million budgets. Custom Rigs are usually the go-to solution for productions that require a specific look or benefit, and as the name implies, the rig can consist of many possible components. RoadtoVR reported on HypeVR‘s seriously impressive rig consisting of 14 “Red Dragon” cameras and a LiDAR (Laser light Radar) unit for recording depth, which translates to 6K resolution in 360 degrees and the capability of capturing distances and create more realistic and immersive footage than the standard VR content we usually see. Heaven knows how much the whole rig cost considering a single Red Dragon camera will set you back a cool $50000.

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Hype VR’s customized VR rig. Note the Velodyne LiDAR unit to the top right

At this point in time, the VR industry has just broken into the mass consumer’s perception, with barely half a year of actual availability for commercially viable VR headsets and the recent introduction of 360 panoramic media. These solutions lay out the potential of the technology, and it’s exciting to see the technologies available now, and exciting to anticipate these technologies becoming available at a more reasonable price in the future.

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