When Facebook launched the Surround 360 camera as open source last year, the goal wasn’t to generate money from camera sales but to encourage manufacturers to produce the hardware necessary for the social media platform to expand 360 content. The Kandao Obsidian is one of those cameras that leverages that code — and was showcased by Facebook itself at the F8 conference along with two other cameras. Kandao says that they expanded the open source software with independent research to create the Obsidian.
The Obsidian, the first imaging product from a China-based company to earn the Best of Innovation award at the Consumer Electronics Show, uses six fish-eye lenses to capture an immersive 360, 3D view. The camera will initially be available in two formats, the Obsidian R which prioritizes resolution with 8K video at 30 fps, and the Obsidian S that puts the focus on frame rate, and can boast of 4K video at a speedy 120 fps frame rate. Both cameras have three different video modes, as well as the ability to record RAW still photos in the DNG format.
Both cameras use a stitching software developed by a deep learning method to create seamless flow between the camera’s six lenses. The footage is stitched automatically and factors depth data from that 3D video while rendering those stitches. Handling the large resolution stitches is a data-intense task, but the program can handle the stitching at 10 fps for both previewing the footage and using the camera for live-streaming.
With both cameras priced at $10,000, the Kandao Obsidian is tagged as a Hollywood-level 3D 360 camera designed for professional producers and studios and not the average consumer. But with any luck, Facebook users will start to see what the social media platform intended, as studios adopt the technology and begin sharing the 3D, 360 footage — though that will likely require Facebook to up the current 360 file size limit of 5 GB as the hardware for such videos becomes easier to find.
“We believe that Kandao Obsidian will support Hollywood filmmakers and professional video producers to create industry-standard VR content [in] a powerful and efficient way,” said Lionel Lau, the CMO and co-founder of Kandao Technology. “One of the reasons of offering the Early Adopter Program is to fully understand the needs of professionals and to shape the future of an industry leading product together.”
Besides being among the first to try the tech, the Obsidian’s early adopters will receive additional accessories as part of a gift package. The early adopter program is limited to the first 200 users.