There has been a lot of attention paid recently to several excellent new rigs for capturing high-quality 360-degree stereo video — especially the open-source Facebook Surround 360. But VR-leader Jaunt still has what may be the best rig in production. Featuring 24 synchronized, global-shutter cameras and a lot of proprietary back-end software, Jaunt has used its own Studio arm to create some of the highest-quality VR videos available. Now, Jaunt is making its camera rigs and access to its back-end processing pipeline available to others.
Starting next month, Radiant Images will begin renting Jaunt ONE rigs, and access to the needed post-processing tools that do the image processing, stitching, and generate stereo views. We haven’t heard exact pricing yet, but the company says the rental fees will be in line with other, similar rigs. Since the Jaunt ONE is assumed to cost over $100K, don’t expect the rental to be low enough for hobbyists or amateurs, but for anyone needing to capture an event or film a short project, renting is often a good alternative.
With consumer-grade 360-degree cameras like the very-usable Ricoh Theta S costing less than $400, it’s natural to wonder why high-end rigs cost more than a hundred times as much. For starters, to get the needed 6K or 8K video resolution, you need expensive sensors — especially since tricky lighting means they need to each have high dynamic range. Then, to stitch them together and generate stereo views, it is really helpful for those cameras to have global shutters (so the entire frame is captured at once). Otherwise you risk a lot of artifacts.
To make those stereo views realistic at every viewing angle, you also need a lot of cameras (Facebook’s rig has 17, Jaunt’s has 24). On top of that, the cameras must be perfectly synchronized, and include the hardware to capture and read out a huge amount of video. Many rigs, including the Jaunt ONE, also include an array of microphones that capture 360-degree sound fields.
Until recently, high-end VR production studios almost all designed their own capture rigs. That will still be the case for many studios. But between the open-source Facebook Surround 360 rig and the commercial availability of systems like the Samsung Odyssey and the Nokia Ozo, as well as availability for rent of rigs like the Jaunt ONE, many studios will be able to get out of the hardware business and concentrate on content creation.