A prototype camera is under development at Jaunt Inc. (Palo Alto, CA) that can record 360 degree stereoscopic imagery.
The prototype uses 14 high definition, 60 fps GoPro cameras to make left and right eye spherical stereo images.
One of the challenges in creating such a panoramic image is to stitch the images together matching gain and white balance, achieving image alignment and dealing with lens distortions. To accomplish this, “the company developed proprietary computational photography algorithms that transform the recorded video data using sophisticated geometric calibration, color adjustment and image processing”. More than that, Jaunt’s video format is compatible with industry-standard software allowing cinematic professionals access to the full suite of post-production tools including editing, color correction and compositing.
Jaunt CTO Arthur Van Hoff stated: “The philosophy behind the company is to make [VR content] production really easy”. He went on to say that, “We have a camera you can record with on set, preview [what you just shot], process the content in a fully-automated backend system and very quickly create a VR experience that’s pretty good quality. Then you can use post-production to really finesse it”.
The starting point for Jaunt in creating its product was the recognition that, at this time, the major use of such a camera would be in virtual reality applications such as in video games.
To address such virtual reality applications, Jaunt’s cross-platform viewer initially renders content for the Oculus Rift. In this application, head tracking is used to allow the user to see in any direction except for a small area just below the user’s feet. Compatibility with other devices is planned for the future.
The camera system also includes “3D sound-field microphones and utilizes binaural mixing to create an immersive audio experience”. It is compatible with Dolby Atmos sound.
Jaunt’s interests, however, go beyond virtual reality in video games. The company has decided to focus its 3D capture technology on cinematic experiences.
To demonstrate the technology, Jaunt recorded Paul McCartney performing at the Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 2014. Jaunt is also working with film maker New Deal Studios (Los Angeles, CA) on a cinematic project using its 3D cameras and also developing a horror and World War II film project.
The first of Jaunt’s cinematic virtual reality footage is now available. To view this content it is necessary to download the Jaunt player for your specific viewing device. Jaunt is “hoping by the end of the year to have half a dozen pieces of content in the app”.
A video in which Van Hoff gives a talk about the company’s technology can be found here http://tinyurl.com/lkk5onl.
The company has brought in $35 million in venture funding from investors including Google Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, SV Angel and British Sky Broadcasting for the purpose of refining its end-to-end production solution. – Arthur Berman