Imagine if you could not only look around a video but also move side to side and see its perspective change. Google has created a 6DOF (six degrees of freedom) Light Field camera array and you can see samples from it with your VR headset, desktop, or even your phone.
You know about and have probably seen photos and videos in 3D, 360, and perhaps even in 3D 360. 6DOF takes immersion a step further by allowing the viewer to move around in the photo or video, as you can see in the Steam VR demo “Welcome to Light Fields”:
6DOF cameras are not new. For example, at CES 2018, Insta360 showed a 6DOF light field camera, and in September of the same year, Facebook showed their RED Manifold 6DOF camera. Google has previously used several types of rigs to capture 6DOF photos (light fields) such as the ones used in the Welcome to Light Fields app:
Google has since created a new light field camera that uses 46 action cameras arranged in a hemisphere. The camera can capture not just 6DOF photos but also 6DOF videos. Previously, light field images consisted of multiple spherical layers (MSI) — typically over 100 layers. The new system uses DeepView software to convert the images into just sixteen layered meshes, which is much more efficient than MSI, with similar image quality. With the layered mesh method, it is possible to stream 6DOF video with a bitrate of around 320mbps bitrate, which is achievable with a gigabit connection.
Here’s a video that talks about Google’s light field camera:
HOW TO VIEW THE 6DOF VIDEOS
Now you can see sample 6DOF videos here (scroll down). You can view the videos on your phone or desktop. To view the videos in a VR headset, you’ll need to install SteamVR and download and extract this file, then run the file DeepViewVideo.exe. If you have an Oculus headset, just run Oculus and then launch the DeepViewVideo from your desktop. SteamVR should launch automatically.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I tried it on Oculus Quest (via Oculus Link) and it was really impressive. Although it wasn’t a 360 view, it felt very immersive. Compared to photogrammetry 3D models, light fields look photorealistic, and of course, in this case, they are also videos. The 6DOF space was a bit limited to a sphere of around 1.5 feet in diameter, but that’s expected. If you move your head outside the space, then the video turns black. If you are viewing the screen and you see only black, try clicking on “Recenter.”
If you liked this demo, also check out the SteamVR app, “Welcome to Light Fields,” which has a gallery of 360-degree light field photos with narration.
What do you think about the demos? Let me know in the comments!