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Kandao Obsidian Pro shows incredible stitching in 3D 360 video (watch on Quest or other VR headset)

Kandao Obsidian Pro shows perfect stitching in 3D
Kandao Obsidian Pro shows perfect stitching in 3D

A new 3D 360 sample video for Kandao Obsidian Pro appears to show perfect stitching.  Here’s why it’s impressive and yes you can watch the sample 3D 360 video on an Oculus Quest 2 or other VR headset.

Having your cake and eating it too

3D 360 photos and videos are very difficult to stitch smoothly due to conflicting design requirements.

On one hand, 360 photos and videos are shot with two or more lenses.  The images are then combined (or “stitched”) to form a 360 photo or video.  Sometimes, objects are between the two lenses.  In such cases, each lens sees a slightly different perspective.  This phenomenon is called parallax.  To get a smooth stitch, we need to minimize parallax.  When there is significant parallax, then it becomes more difficult to get a smooth image of the object.

Parallax stitching error (see the word "bigger")
Parallax stitching error (see the words “bigger” and “better”)

On the other hand, parallax is required for stereoscopic images.  To create a stereoscopic effect, there must be sufficient parallax between the left eye view and right eye view.  This leads to an even larger parallax between the lenses of each eye.   In a 3D 360 camera camera with six lenses for example, there is a 120-degree difference between each lens of each eye’s view.  For a 3D 360 camera with eight lenses, there is a 90 degree difference between each lens of each eye’s view.

Because of the conflicting requirements for parallax, stitching 3D 360 photos and videos is notoriously challenging.  The problem becomes even more difficult with larger sensors that require larger lenses, which increases the physical distance and therefore the parallax between the images.

Perfect 3D 360 stitching

Yesterday, Kandao posted a sample 3D 360 video that seems to show almost perfect stitching.  The videos were shot with the Obsidian Pro, a 12K 3D 360 camera with eight APS-C size sensors, the largest sensors in an all-in-one 360 camera.  With sensors that are quite far apart, I would normally expect its photos and videos to have obvious stitching errors.  Instead, their sample shows among the best stitching I’ve seen for a camera of this size.

Kandao Obsidian Pro is a 12K 3D 360 camera with APS-C size sensors
Kandao Obsidian Pro is a 12K 3D 360 camera with APS-C size sensors

 

Here is a sample video in 8K 3D 360, with a depth map of each.  The video from the city was shot by Kandao.  The church video was shot by Andrii Shramko, a professional 360 video shooter and designer of 360 camera products such as 360 gimbals and an invisible drone.

How to watch 3D 360 YouTube videos on Oculus Quest, Quest 2, or Rift S

Download the YouTube app and search for the video.  When you click on the video, it should show it as 3D 360.  If not, change the projection to top-bottom 3D 360.

How to watch 3D 360 YouTube videos on SteamVR headsets

Install the DeoVR app.  Copy the link to the video then in the DeoVR app, click on the paste icon that looks like a clipboard.

Excellent stitching

One way we can see how good the stitching was is by looking at the nadir of the city scene.  Except for minor stitching errors (in red) near the camera, the stitching appears flawless at all distances beyond about 3 feet, even of the mosaic-like tiles, which would normally show stitching errors.

Except for minor stitching errors such as those in red, the stitching appears flawless
Except for minor stitching errors such as those in red, the stitching appears flawless

According to Kandao, their method was to first create an accurate and high resolution depth map.  The depth map information was then used in an advanced stitching algorithm for accurate 3D 360 stitching.

Although the Obsidian Pro is beyond the reach of most 360 shooters, I hope that this technology can trickle down to future consumer 360 cameras, or maybe even become available in a Kandao stitching software that can be purchased for any 360 camera (wishful thinking, I know).

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Mic Ty

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  • I think perfect and excellent stitching is not reached in this example – all close moving objects have glitch behind them.

    You can also see glitches in the depth map – for example at the person next to the traffic light.

    The concept to use depth map for Stichling is requested since a long time and we are more then happy that Kandao is braking to new grounds for stitching concepts.

    I am still not sure if a 8 lens camera with so much distance in between is the best way to film VR in high quality.
    The only reason I can imagine is a stereoscopic result – which I am personally not need in VR.

    Especially for close Objects a camera with 2 lenses has much less stitching trouble.

    I would rather love to see Kandao releasing a QooCam Pro with Obsidian Sensor and high grade lens and ProRes Recording. Like a Mini Obsidian Pro.

    Only 2 stitching Lines – fast precise stitching and able to record close objects.

    • Thanks Toby. First, we need to compare stitching with other 3D 360 photos, not 2D 360 photos which are easier to stitch. For 3D 360, the stitching here is excellent. The other thing is that, the stitching is using two technologies: one is generating the depth map. The second is stitching based on the depth map. The depth map has some errors, but in parts where the depth map has no errors, the stitching is flawless. So if they can perfect the depth map part of it, it appears that they will be able to stitch flawlessly.