Shooting 360-degree video with a GoPro is about to get epic with Fusion camera

Update on June 8, 2017: While details are still limited, GoPro has officially revealed the Fusion. The camera, still in beta has similar design cues as the Hero5 Black, but the larger square-like dual-lens camera is wider and taller, and weighs roughly the same (at the least that’s how it felt in our hands). It looks different that the picture of the camera teased at NAB 2017, but it is in keeping with the recent Hero5 products and the Karma drone. Here’s what we know (or suspect), so far.

The Fusion is targeted toward consumers and even pros looking to shoot a quick and easy spherical video, so we assume it would have GoPro’s ProTune advanced settings. It would most likely utilize a USB-C connection like the Hero5 Black, although waterproofness is up in the air. At the bottom, it looks like the Fusion is using a removable mount that will fit existing GoPro accessories – we would not be surprised if it could be attached to the Karma drone for 360-degree aerial shots – although, again, this is a beta device and the final product may not look exactly like what we’ve seen. At the top, there appears to be three pinholes for microphones (we assume for stereo and wind noise cancelation), while the shutter button is on the front. A mode button is on one side, with two fisheye lenses on either side.

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The GoPro Fusion 7 mounted to a GoPro 3-Way accessory. Les Shu/Digital Trends

GoPro also released a video edited from spherical content taken with the Fusion, which you can view below. From what we saw using VR goggles, the Fusion (or the software, rather) does a very good job with stitching, and does a better job at capturing the entire top and bottom of the picture – making it truly spherical. You still don’t get much depth perception as multi-lens, 3D 360-degree cameras, but the image quality looks very good. The Fusion, we know, will be capable of functioning as a single-lens camera – like a normal GoPro Hero. According to GoPro, the content users capture will not so much be viewed with VR headsets, but in videos it calls OverCapture, which are standard videos users create in post-edit (likely from a mobile device) with the freedom of picking a POV that helps them tell the story they want to share, or use special effects like a “little planet” POV. The video below is an example of Overcapture.

We will update as more details are announced.

Original article, published on April 17, 2017: Just ahead of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show on Saturday, GoPro has announced its first immersive video camera, called the Fusion. While the company has offered a 360-degree solution for some time in the form of the Omni cage —  which locks six GoPro Hero cameras together — the Fusion is a compact, single-camera device designed to be mounted in all the same ways as a normal GoPro.

Initial details on the new camera remain scarce, but one interesting tidbit is that it shoots 5.2K resolution, slightly above the now standard 4K. This is good news for immersive video enthusiasts, as higher resolutions tend to make a dramatic difference in 360 video, where all of those pixels are spread out over a spherical area. GoPro says this will also allow for HD-quality, non-360 video to be extracted from any angle, essentially giving Fusion users the ability to create both immersive and traditional fixed-frame content from the same camera, at the same time.

“Whether filming for VR or traditional fixed-perspective content, Fusion represents the state-of-the-art in versatile spherical capture,” said GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman, in a statement. He did not elaborate on other ways in which the Fusion would be state-of-the-art.

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This image was the original teaser GoPro used at NAB 2017.

What we do know is that work remains to be done to get the Fusion ready for the public. GoPro announced it will run an exclusive pilot program this summer, and is asking professional content creators to apply for it starting today. The goal is to field test the Fusion and produce content that GoPro can use to demonstrate its power before taking the camera to market. Assuming all goes well with the pilot program, GoPro expects to offer a “limited commercial release” by the end of 2017. No other details on pricing or availability have been given.

While the Fusion certainly seems interesting, our current sentiment can best be described as cautiously excited. We’re glad to see that GoPro is taking a single-camera approach to immersive content, but with so many 360 cameras popping up all the time from brands both big and small, the Fusion will need to deliver a trifecta of power, usability, and affordability to truly stand out from the crowd. For now, we’ll wait patiently for more details to emerge.