360 videos will become a bit more interesting with Facebook's 360 cameras

facebook surround 360 x24 x6 announced
Facebook is looking to “establish a creative norm” by engineering its own 360 cameras to put in the hands of professional filmmakers. On Wednesday, during the annual F8 conference, the company introduced the Surround 360 x24 and x6, both 360 cameras named for the number of lenses in its sphere-shaped body.

Unlike the social media platform’s last 360 experiment, the latest cameras use six degrees of freedom (6DoF) which means users can move through the footage. The 6DoF experience allows viewers to do more than just pan through footage from side to side, but to move forward and backward as well as up, down, left and right. The Surround 360 x24 is a professionally geared camera with 24 lenses set to be manufactured by Flir, while the x6 is a smaller camera geared toward consumer use and built without a third-party manufacturer.

So why is the social media platform continuing to experiment with 360 hardware? “One of the reasons we want high-end creatives to use [the camera] is to teach the rest of the world how to use it,” Facebook Engineering Director Brian Cabral told Venture Beat.

The original Facebook Surround 360 was released as open source software. When some developers used only the software and made their own hardware or developed new software for the same hardware, Facebook discovered what works and what does not. Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer said that 3D 360 was not offering realistic real-world movement. With the 6DoF technology, that could change.

Facebook’s 6DoF cameras, which do not have a release date, are not the first to create a video experience where the user can move in six directions within the footage. Lytro’s Immerge also uses the 6DoF, but since the hardware is so large and expensive, the Immerge is only rented out, not sold on the market. Even Facebook’s 24-lens variation is significantly smaller, and while designed for advanced users, is arguably more prosumer than Lytro’s model.

To process all that information, Facebook is working with several software companies for the stitching software to accompany the cameras, including Adobe, Foundry, Mettle, and Otoy. Dxomark is also working with Facebook to create a benchmark to measure image quality for 360 cameras, Facebook said.

There is no word yet on when the Facebook Surround 360 24x and 6x will be available, but Cabral said during Wednesday’s conference that while there is still work left on both cameras, Facebook is en route to a finished product. The camera announcement comes after Facebook announced a beta augmented reality program on Tuesday for creating objects and placing them inside an augmented reality that users can see with their smartphones — like Pokémon Go — such as placing an object on a table that is not really there or turning a blank wall into virtual street art.

Movies & TV

Why First Man’s Oscar-nominated visual effects are a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the award-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later and…
Social Media

Instagram to make giving easier with a Stories donation sticker for fundraisers

Instagram is preparing to launch a donation feature within Stories that would allow users to raise cash for a range of nonprofit charities. The company confirmed it's aiming to launch the donation sticker later this year.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.

The HoloLens 2 will be announced at MWC. Here's what we know about it so far

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.

From f/1.2 primes to the mysterious DS, here are Canon’s upcoming RF lenses

Canon's EOS R mirrorless series will gain six new lenses this year. Canon just shared a list of six lenses under development, including four zooms and two prime lenses. One has a mysterious new feature called Defocus Smoothing.

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.

Photography news: Wacom’s slimmer pen, Leica’s cinema special edition

In this week's photography news, Wacom launches a new slimmer pen for pro users. Leica's upcoming M10-P is designed for cinema, inside and out, with built-in cinema modes in the updated software.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.

What’s the difference between Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic?

Lightroom CC has evolved into a capable photo editor, but is it enough to supplant Lightroom Classic? We took each program for a test drive to compare the two versions and see which is faster, more powerful, and better organized.

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.

Mirrorless cameras were built to be compact, so why have they gotten so heavy?

Mirrorless cameras launched as portable alternatives to bulky and complex DSLRs -- so why are they getting bigger and heavier? Cameras are trending towards heavier models, but that change comes with more advanced features.