I visited Insta360’s booth at CES 2018. Here’s the latest news from Insta360.
How do you keep a big secret? By revealing another secret. That seems to have been Insta360’s clever strategy for CES 2018. A few days before CES, they sent out a teaser photo and a teaser video, generating speculation about them. The teaser images eventually pointed to the Insta360 Nano S, the new version of the Insta360 Nano, with upgraded specs, and new features including 360 video calling and Multiview.
While misdirecting the industry’s attention, Insta360 was actually working on other projects that it revealed at CES, including two cameras that took everyone by complete surprise (myself included). Well played, Insta360! Here’s the news from Insta360’s booth at CES (besides the launch of the Insta360 Nano S, which is covered in detail here).
Insta360 showed a new professional 360 camera that they are developing, called the Titan. It looks like the Insta360 Pro but is much larger. The Insta360 Pro is about the size of a grapefruit, while the Titan is about the size of a basketball.
The Titan has eight lenses paired with large Micro Four Thirds sensors. With large sensors, the Titan will have greater dynamic range, high bit depth, and less noise in low light. The video resolution will be at least 10k, and it can either use eight SD cards, or a single SSD drive.
Here’s a short video showing the Titan:
The Titan is planned for release later this year and is expected to cost $12,000. By comparison, the Z Cam V1 Pro with nine Micro Four Thirds cameras costs around $31,000.
Some Insta360 Pro owners were dismayed by the news of the Titan but the reality is that they are serving different markets. Not everyone who can afford $3500 for the Pro can afford $12,000 for the Titan, nor would they necessarily have the powerful hardware required to process 10K videos. So, personally, I think there’s no reason for Pro owners to be upset, just like Mercedes owners have no reason to be upset by the Maybach.
On the other hand, larger studios should be very interested in the Titan. I expect it to be very well integrated like the Insta360 Pro, as opposed to other professional 360 cameras that act more like rigs.
Meanwhile, Insta360 reiterated its commitment to continue releasing updates for the Insta360 Pro.
Light field camera for volumetric 6DOF 3D videos.
6DOF (6 degrees of freedom) was a major theme at CES this year with several new standalone headsets with 6DOF positional tracking capabilities. On the content creation side, some manufacturers showed cameras that could simulate 6DOF. Insta360 also took a shot at 6DOF, this time using a light field camera.
A light field camera captures both the intensity and direction of light. In practical terms, you can think of it as though a normal camera captures one perspective, whereas a light field captures all perspectives within a particular space.
Insta360’s light field camera is about as large as a whiteboard and is comprised of 128 cameras. It looks somewhat similar in concept as Lytro Immerge. With its large size, there is a larger light field that it can capture within which you can move your head around.
Here is a video of a light field video playing. You can see how the perspective changes as the mouse was moved.
Insta360’s VP also said that it is possible to view the light field with a VR headset, which would enable you to move around (you can move your head as much as the size of the light field).
Wireless adapter. Insta360 showed a new wireless adapter that they created for the Titan but it can also be used for the Pro. Although the Pro has built-in Wi-fi, this new adapter increases the Pro’s wireless range.
Bullet time accessory. When Insta360 launched the Insta360 ONE last year, they generated a lot of buzz by showing how the ONE could be used to capture a bullet time view by swinging the camera around on a string. Meanwhile, I found a swivel mount that would allow you to rotate the camera around you with a selfie stick at a more controlled speed. Check out my tutorial.
There were two things that were inconvenient with the swivel mount. First was that it took a bit of time to clamp it onto a selfie stick. Second, the swivel mount was attached to its handle with the GoPro-style mount, which allowed it to droop.
Insta360 showed a new accessory for bullet time that also uses a swivel mount. However, it’s much more portable, has a standard 1/4-20 mount for a selfie stick (instead of a clamp) and has no GoPro style mount for the handle, so it won’t droop. I’m still trying to find out the availability and price. Check back here for a video of the new bullet time accessory.
Insta360 ONE and Multiview and 360 video calling. The Nano S features 360 video calling and Multiview. Many owners of the ONE (including myself) wondered whether those features would also be coming to the ONE. According to VP Max Richter, Insta360 designed these features for casual users, and they have no plans of adding these features to the ONE, which is intended for more experienced users.
No underwater housing for the Nano or Nano S. When the Nano was first released, Insta360 showed an underwater housing for it. Now, it appears that they will not be producing the housing. Rather the Nano and Nano S would be intended for casual use, as opposed to use for action videos.
Preview of the new Insta360 ONE stabilization. Finally, I spoke to CEO JK Liu to ask about progress on the upgrade to the Insta360 ONE’s stabilization. He said it was coming soon. In the meantime, to show how well it is working on the ONE, he showed me a video of him running at CES (with the ONE on a helmet):
It looks very impressive and comparable to Rylo’s class-leading stabilization.
I’m still putting together the videos I shot at CES 2018 and I’ll update this post with new ones from Insta360’s booth!