In the last two years we’ve seen several cameras designed to capture spherical imagery. Whether photo or video, spherical content lets you pan around, giving you a more immersive, 3D experience. Many of these products come from start-up companies, but now we can add a major force in the category: GoPro. The maker of the popular Hero action cams just acquired Kolor, a company that makes spherical media and virtual reality (VR) apps, like its 360-degree video player, Kolor Eyes (available for iOS and Android).
To demonstrate how Kolor works with a setup of multiple Hero cameras, GoPro created a 4K video, “Land, Air, and Sea” that allows the viewer to pan around a 3D-experience. To make the video, GoPro used a special rig that mounts multiple Hero cameras together into a position that captures a spherical picture; the GoPro mobile app can be used to operate the cameras simultaneously. The footages are then edited using Kolor software, which stitches the videos together in order to create the spherical, panoramic content; Kolor also handles color correction and rendering. The video then takes advantage of sharing solutions like YouTube’s new feature that lets users upload 360-degree videos. (GoPro has a page dedicated to spherical solutions.) On GoPro’s website, the rendered video can be viewed in various formats and resolutions, such as Rectilinear and Fisheye, and Full HD, 2K, and 4K; YouTube viewing is only supported via Google Chrome, and you don’t get the full experience.
While the content can be viewed using your Web browser or an app like Kolor Eyes, it’s obvious that GoPro is tapping into the emerging VR market that’s being driven by Oculus. GoPro says its new immersive videos like “Land, Air, and Sea” will be compatible with the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, as well as products like Google Cardboard.
“We have already been seeing many people using GoPros in different kinds of three dimensional risks to really capture the beginning of the spherical media content,” says GoPro president Tony Bates, in the company’s quarterly earnings call.