The International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam is the annual romp for techies in the global broadcast media market. Unlike CES (The Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas), the focus is exclusively B2B, with companies show-casing media acquisition, management and delivery technology, across all creative genres.
‘Future Zone’ offers a glimpse of people and products working at the bleeding edge of this technology: so it was telling that 2016 saw VR largely move away from this zone and very much into the main exhibition and conference halls. Proof, if any was needed, that VR is here to stay and indeed will become an increasingly powerful tool in the story-teller’s armory.
So, as the much-heralded “Year of VR” enters its final quarter, what tech caught my eye and what trends can we spot? In a 2-part blog series, I will explore the take-a-ways and learnings from a few long days at the RAI in Amsterdam:
IBC 2016, Part 1 – Virtual Reality Rigs and Cameras:
Rigs and cameras:
In short, the product range is growing – and growing quickly.
Old faithful GoPro had virtual reality central to their huge and impressive stand at IBC, with the new Omni VR rig front-and-centre, including the ability to sync (GenLock) the 6 x Hero4’s in the rig; largely removing the need to sync cameras in post. Improvements to direct publishing and stitching in Kolor’s AutoPano tools are also a welcome update.
In terms of the best-of-the rest, the trend is unquestionably towards integrated VR camera units, at all levels – from Nikon’s KeyMission360 and Samsung’s Gear360 (both under a grand – and therefore challengers in the ‘Prosumer’ or ‘VR Hobbyist’ market) to the Nokia OZO (at more like $50-grand). Such units, usually with proprietary syncing and stitching software which go some-way to automating those processes, make life easier in post production, and streamline the shooting process. Resolutions are there, although bit-rates remain frustrating low in compact VR units, especially when compared to 2D (or even stereoscopic) units and sensors, which we’ve become accustom to in the flat, 2D, large-screen world. Likewise, current ‘all-in-one’ VR units don’t support higher dynamic range (HDR) acquisition or other similar smarts.
However, catching the eye especially were VideoStitch’s ORAH, IndieCam’s NakedEye and Sphericam’s, er, Sphericam – the latter two both offering 4K resolutions in a single unit, global shutter systems, 12-bit recording (CinemaDNG RAWs in the case of the NakedEye) and, in case of the Sphericam, up to 60fps. Sphericam were also touting ‘The Beast 360’ – a 6K, 60pfs RAW unit – but as yet details are thin on the ground, let alone a release date. In fact, the Sphericam is at pre-order stage, but not yet available.
Nokia’s OZO was hugely popular, and caused a big stir. Live demos were impressive, and it was fantastic to see the unit mounted on various rigs (I especially liked Impossible Motion’s MANTIS remote control dolly, with a GroPro cage smartly mounted under the OZO unit to allow live monitoring on set or location). Talks on the Nokia stand from Deltatre, a French Sports Media Group, who are working with OZO rigs to cover multiple events this year, both live and packaged content, laboured the point.
Of course, I must declare an interest: StartVR are the first to bring an OZO to Australia on a full-time basis, so we will be putting this high-end unit through its paces in the coming months. It’s a space well worth watching…
Paul Willey – Head of Post Production.