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360 camera in reverse: Canon’s amazing 6DOF flying virtual camera

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have an invisible flying camera that could magically move around a stadium, without any cables?  That’s what Canon’s Free Viewpoint Video system does.  Check out this video:

No, it wasn’t a cable cam (which is what I originally supposed).  Rather, it is a virtual camera system that enables the viewer to show almost any point of view from anywhere in the field.

How does it work?

The Free Viewpoint system is almost like a 360 camera in reverse.  With a 360 camera, you have two or more lenses aimed outward from a single point.  Like a 360 camera, the Free Viewpoint also has multiple cameras, but they are mounted around a perimeter and aimed toward the middle, or in some configurations, can be arranged in a line, plane or sphere.

The system combines the videos from the high-resolution wide angle cameras to be able to change the viewpoint arbitrarily at any time.   The transition from camera to camera is completely seamless. For example, you can rotate the screen around any subject, as though a camera were flying around the subject.   The end result is a video that looks like it was captured by an invisible flying camera, like a 6DOF effect.

The system is fully interactive, and in theory can enable any spectator to control the view in 6DOF.  In the future, it will even be possible for spectators to wear VR headsets and get a monoscopic 6DOF VR view.

Here are other samples of Free Viewpoint Videos:

Will consumers be able to get similar technology for capturing 6DOF?  That appears unlikely given the cost of the setup.  However, you can get an invisible flying camera view with a 360 camera and a monopod, in a package that fits in your pocket.  Check out this related post!

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Mic Ty

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  • Will it be possible to record family events of several people being in a room with this technique as a 3D VR 6DOF video? I mean, you could walk around the room with a headset and watch people from different viewpoints when watching back the video. Imagine “going” back to your childhood living room and watch yourself playing with your parents while walking around in the room. That would be something revolutionary!

    • Hi Balint. Facebook is working on something like that. It will take all your photos and construct a 6dof VR space with it. With enough photos taken from a particular room, you’ll be able to go to that room in VR. 😀

  • It’s just recreating in CGI an approximate estimation of how it should look like in 3d. I doubt people will enjoy watching a real game that looks like a console game.

    • Thanks Al. It’s not CGI – it’s actually video, but reprojected and zoomed in. I’ve seen it being used in some games.