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Thursday, November 05, 2015
Lytro Immerge is Future's VR Camera Rig for Professionals

Lytro has developed Immerge, a UFO-shaped camera system that blends live action and computer graphics (CG) in order to deliver live action VR footage.

Lytro Immerge has a crazy look. Its body is made of a spherical array of high-definition video cameras fitted into rings, mounted on a three-legged base. It's meant to simulate a human head, but one that's looking in all possible directions at once. This means it sees 360 degrees around the center, as well as above and below the unit, still capturing color, intensity, and depth. Lytro calls the new capture method a "light field volume." Unlike traditional or stereo cameras, a Light Field camera allows light to be captured from multiple vantage points, left to right, top to bottom, and all points in-between. Lytro is describing this approach in an interesting blog post.

Lytro says that the difference between this experience and what's currently being shot with other 3D VR rigs is dramatic.

The complete Immerge system includes a proprietary server unit that can store an hour of footage. From there, editors can work with the footage in whatever application they're accustomed to using and publish in formats that will work with any commercially VR headset, including Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR.

Obviously, the Immerge is suited to shooting in studio or urban settings and not for hobbyists.

Lytro says they should have working prototypes ready for user testing in early 2016. Purchasing a full setup (camera, server, storage, software licenses) will likely run filmmakers between $250,000 and $500,000, but Lytro imagines most will want to rent instead. This will cost $6,000 to $8,000 per day.

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