At its ongoing F8 conference, Facebook recently showed off a couple of pretty awesome 360-degree cameras. There is the x24, that as its name implies is equipped with 24 cameras, and there is the x6 which is equipped with 6 cameras. Both of them are capabe of capturing stuff in 6 distinct directions and apparently, Facebook has decided to go to town by licensing their designs to select manufacturing partners.
The cameras have been prototyped Facebook’s Area 404, which could be one reason why everything was so hush hush until the company decided to spring them upon us. Both the cameras are highly capable with the x24 capable of combining the FLIR camera system with Facebook’s in-house architecture. The combination leads to a distinct ability to shoot in six degrees of freedom (6DoF).
Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) in case you are unaware of it, refers to the freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Basically, the body is said to possess it if it can shift its position as forward/backward (surge), up/down (heave), left/right (sway) and so on. This particular ability means that the shot stays realistic and believable even when the viewer moves his head around.
The technology is also known as volumetric capture and while its is said to significantly enhance the quality of the shot, it is also known to be harder to handle for novices. With that said, the benefits are well worth the pain and the shots captured enable some pretty cool bit of post-production editing like swapping out backgrounds and so on.
As far as the design is concerned, both the cameras look quite futuristic. So you wouldn’t be ashamed to whip them out at the next galactic photographer’s session. Speaking on the topic, Brian Cabral, Facebook’s director of engineering said:
Part of what we are doing with the ecosystem, and the camera itself, is giving these tools to content creators so they can start to develop this artistic language.
Meanwhile, Facebook realizes that any technology is only as strong as its content, which in turn depends on and influences the community. Which is why it has partnered up with a slew of companies to push content production. Partners include Adobe, Otoy, Foundry, Mettle, DXO, Here Be Dragons, Framestore, Magnopus, and The Mill.