Updated on July 8, 2016: We included a video interview with Fantem VP Colin Marshall below.
Three-dimensional video is either all the rage or just a gimmick, depending on who you ask. Fantem, the company behind the soon-to-be-released Vitrima 3D lens for GoPro Hero cameras, is definitely in the former camp.
As far as consumer 3D recording solutions go, the Vitrima is one of the more elegant options – although, “elegant” is perhaps too strong a word in this context. GoPro, for comparison, has long had its own answer to 3D: a second GoPro. The company even makes a $200 dual-camera housing specifically for this purpose.
Consumers would need to have more than a passing interest in shooting 3D in order to invest in two GoPros and an expensive case, however. With the Vitrima lens, Fantem believes it can simplify and democratize 3D video by making it affordable. For a limited time after launch, prices will start at just $49.
The lens, which is built around a standard GoPro housing, uses mirrors to divide the scene into two discrete, left/right halves, thus enabling stereo vision. The main benefit of this approach, aside from requiring only one camera, is that it requires zero post-production to finalize the footage for 3D viewing. Simply play back the video in a VR viewer and it will be in 3D. The downside, however, is that there really isn’t a way to watch the video in 2D, unless you enjoy seeing the same shot twice, in side-by-side vertical videos.
Built of aluminum and plastic, the lens and case combined weighs in at just under half a pound and measures 3.7 x 2.3 x 2.1 inches. It’s portable enough, and waterproof, but the added bulk will likely limit its use in many standard action camera situations. It may be too heavy as a helmet cam or simply too large to safely mount to a bike frame, skateboard, etc.
The very nature of the Vitrima lens means it will likely remain relegated to a niche market, but its low price could help it end up on quite a few birthday and holiday wish lists. At the very least, if you own a GoPro and a VR headset, it will be another trick up your sleeve to impress your friends and family.
The Vitrima lens should be available in mid-June. Check out our interview with Colin Marshall, vice president at Fantem, when we caught up with him during the Getgeeked event at the 2016 CE Week conference in New York City.
This article was originally published on May 27, 2016.