360 Degree Cameras At IBC Get The Full View

Virtual Reality (VR) continues to be a curiosity among industry professionals, but has yet to find its “killer app” that would lead to financial success. AT the 2016 IBC Show in Amsterdam, several companies demonstrated 360-degree acquisition systems supporting production of VR content. Yes, the images are stunning (in some cases) to look at, but the imposition of the special goggles required to view the content had some visitors to the Nokia and Panasonic exhibit stands literally bumping into each other.

Nokia showed its increasingly popular (and shipping) OZO Live 2K VR camera system while Panasonic unveiled a prototype 360° 4K degree real time camera. Both include special software that stitches the various camera angles together to make a seamless VR environment and synchronization capability to allow multiple VR camera systems to be set up and work in harmony.

“While we’re still in the early days of VR, there’s a lot of excitement around the technology,” said Jyri Huopaniemi, Head of Formats and Platforms for Nokia. “We think there are many professional applications for the OZO camera, including news and live sporting events.”

The OZO Live has also been popular among gamers and developers of gaming titles. At IBC, the Nokia VR camera system was used to capture a live VR feed from its Hall 8 stand, which was then sent to head mounted displays in the stand as well as to two of partner booths, those of Akamai and Elemental Technologies (recently acquired by Amazon Web Services). Using Nokia’s complementary OZO Player SDK, attendees could view the live action from the Nokia booth without actually being there.

OZO Live software is also used to synchronize multiple OZO cameras for live or studio productions.

The OZO Live camera features eight global shutter 2K x 2K CMOS sensors (each providing a 170 degree field of view) and eight 360-degree sound field microphones that record to a hot swappable 500 GB solid state drive. Each drive can store up to 45 minutes of VR content. Camera feeds can also be fed directly into a 4K switcher for multi-camera projects. The camera system can be operated remotely via WiFi connection and the VR content can also be streamed live at 12 Mbps.

Nokia has developed an OZO Live SDK that includes multi-viewer software to monitor each camera feed.

Nokia has developed an OZO Live SDK that includes multi-viewer software to monitor each camera feed.

Huopaniemi suggested broadcasters might extract parts of the VR image capture with the OZO’s eight cameras in order to produce high-quality 2K and HD segments for sports replays and other security applications. To this end EVS had an OZO camera in its booth showing replays in 360 degrees.

At the IBC Show Nokia also announced a new partnership with IP-based distribution company NeuLion to deliver an end-to-end, jointly integrated professional solution utilizing the NeuLion Digital Platform, OZO camera and the OZO Player SDK. The two companies recently captured a live sporting event using OZO, which was positioned inside the arena.

“The camera placement in the arena provided a jaw-dropping immersive experience," said Tarif Sayed, Director of Business Development for Live VR & the OZO Player SDK for Nokia. "We are excited to partner with NeuLion to provide their customers with an integrated solution to deliver 360 and VR experiences over-the-top.”

NeuLion and Nokia said they would offer content owners and content rights holders an end-to-end jointly integrated platform. This integration will create a single stitched live video feed from OZO cameras sent directly to NeuLion MC Encoders for the live encoding of sports and entertainment events. The encoded stream will then be packaged and delivered by the NeuLion Digital Platform adaptively over the internet to end users on second screens and VR headsets.

"What makes NeuLion stand out is our focus on the experience we create for our customers as they build their OTT and TV Everywhere services,” said Roy Reichbach, President and CEO of NeuLion. “Now that live 360 video and virtual reality are hitting the mainstream, you need an end-to-end platform that includes production and delivery to make it happen. We are excited to be working with Nokia on this new capability.”

One caveat: The OZO camera costs $45,000US, so Nokia sees huge potential in the rental market.

Panasonic’s 360-degree 4K real time camera features four 4K sensors to create an equi-rectangular image, designed for virtual reality viewing.

Panasonic’s 360-degree 4K real time camera features four 4K sensors to create an equi-rectangular image, designed for virtual reality viewing.

Meanwhile Panasonic also had many curious visitors to its VR area of its exhibit stand. Calling “a 360-degree 4K degree real time camera, designed for virtual reality viewing," the system features four 4K CMOS camera sensors in the camera head and built-in stitching and sync in the base unit (with quad-link SDI cabling in between). When mounted to its base, images from the four cameras in the 360-degree head are synchronized through cabling, creating a single 4K "equi-rectangular" image. Panasonic has said that this instantly available single 4K image is ideal for projecting in the moment to stadium screens and pushing out on the fly to social media outlets like Facebook 360 and YouTube.

VR is quickly emerging as a hot new technology at various trade shows, but it has yet to show its true colors, that is, a successful business model with consumers. At the IBC Show no one was really sure when the technology would find its niche.

“What we’re trying to show with VR is that the medium is different, but the production workflow is the same as customers are used to with HD or 4K,” Huopaniemi said. “We’re here to show the possibilities across a number of industries. It’s all about storytelling and camera placement. And it can be consumed on a number of different playback devices.

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