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Hardware

This 360-Degree, 4K Video Camera isn't Getting Kickstarted (Video) 61

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-everything-makes-the-cut-even-if-we-like-it dept.
This is something that caught Tim Lord's eye as he cruised the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire: A 360 4K-resolution video camera. It's not out yet for retail sale, but if you look at the Centrcam website you can see a number of videos their cameras have shot, including some high-motion ones that they say, truthfully, are excellent to watch full-screen. The people who came up with this aren't college students who have never done any professional design work. Rather, they're "the same team that engineered and built the Apple iPhone cameras." So it's no wonder they have made something pretty cool that has already been used to make videos for Fox Sports, National Geographic, and the U.S. Army, among others. Their Kickstarter blurb is pretty cool, too. It is one of the most detailed ones we've ever seen. It's sad that they only got $607,628 of their $900,000 funding goal, considering all the work they've put into their product, along with the great presentation. They didn't know this would happen at the time this video was shot at the Maker Faire; their Kickstarter time window didn't close until four days ago. But there are other ways to fund a startup, and we hope they manage find one -- because we would eventually like to get our hands on one of their cameras and test it for ourselves, possibly with a little help from some of the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark regulars. (Alternate Video Link)

Paul Alioshin: CENTR camera is a new technology. We’re creating a 360-degree high-definition video that captures the whole panorama all the way around you.

Tim: How are you doing that?

Paul Alioshin: We’re doing it by using four cameras, four HD cameras. Frame by frame, we’re taking each of the cameras and we’re stitching those frames together all the way around. It sounds simple but it’s actually not. It’s actually kind of hard to get it right and to get the exposure correct and the color balanced all the way around. One of the things that’s pretty unique for us is that we can do it in real time.

Tim: Do it in real time, you can do a lot of streaming this 360 degree vision to somewhere else?

Paul Alioshin: Correct, yes. You can stream it, our product will pair to your phone over Bluetooth and stream video over Wi-Fi. In the past we’ve done live events for sports, like we are at _____1:18 through ESPN, and we’re able to stream live video from the event and talk to the TV broadcaster.

Tim: Can you talk about the hardware itself? You’ve got some samples here in front of you.

Paul Alioshin: Yeah, sure. So this is a very early first prototype as you can see. It’s of the finest construction. It’s four GoPros and we had to hack them so that we could sync them all together. In this case, we were recording each of the four cameras and then we take the videos separately and put them it on a Mac and stitch it together using our algorithm. And so we learned a lot doing this, which is great, and captured a lot of video, learned a lot of stuff. Then our next prototype was a 3D printed case, again four GoPros that we hacked. In this case, we were able to pull live video out of the GoPro, out of this HDMI port and we used standard adapters to get that video into a Mac. At that point, we could develop live stitching capability. And so now with that we’re able to run live.

Then we built our next prototype, which is this guy. This prototype is a self-contained unit. We have four HD cameras again and this is our cameras now, not GoPro cameras. And in this case we’re recording 720p and again we stick SD cards and do the processing on the Mac. And now the product seems to disappear.

Tim: What is your _____3:16.

Paul Alioshin: So this is the product and this is what is on Kickstarter right now for hundred bucks off which is great. This is four cameras also, staying with the same design, and in this case there are four mobile phone cameras. If you think about it

Tim: _____3:37.

Paul Alioshin: Right. Because we’re taking a panorama all the way around, the shapes, you want to have these cameras pointed in all directions of the compass. And coming from Apple we all have a pretty ingrained sense that things need to be beautiful. So we liked this design and also we are trying to figure how could you hold this thing. Because now you’re going to block it, it is part of the view. So we came up with this idea of a hole in it, where now you can kind of mount it or you can hold it. It’s also the right size to fit on a beer bottle. You always have some to put it on.

Tim: As this is a quite different things can you explain what _____4:29 what is this for?

Paul Alioshin: So these are 2K professional broadcast cameras I mentioned that we are at _____4:37 to ESPN so in that case we use these cameras and we took this video live back into a Mac and did the processing in our algorithm.

Tim: Let me ask one thing, what kind of software does it take to view the outside?

Paul Alioshin: It does not take any software. We’re doing the processing so those algorithms that we’re using on the Mac before are now imported to a new graphics chip. So all the stitching, everything is done on the graphics chip. So what comes off either streaming or on your SD card is a fully done panorama video. So say for 1080p you would get a video that’s 1080 X 7000, and it’s not 1920 x 4, because there is some overlap.

Tim: And if you want to view that as 360-degree unit what do you need to do that?

Paul Alioshin: So you can open it, you can edit it and premiere, final cut and whatever, you can view it with QuickTime or VLC. We also do have an interactive viewing which allows you to navigate around the view as you’re watching it. That does require a different player. We have a Flash player, that works now and you can play with it on the website.

Tim: Right now it is May 2014 as I do this, when will people who are for instance ordering on the Kickstarter, when will they start to see the cameras?

Paul Alioshin: So we have two different things on the Kickstarter relating to that. We have an early kind of beta tester and those will come out in November. Those will be some of the first cameras off the line which people will be able to help us in terms of features and testing to integrate. And everybody else would be able to get it in February of 2015 after our announcement at CES.

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This 360-Degree, 4K Video Camera isn't Getting Kickstarted (Video)

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