What would it look like if cinema giant Red and virtual reality powerhouse Oculus created a camera? Today, you no longer have to guess. On Wednesday, September 26, Facebook and Red unveiled the first glimpse of the Manifold, a VR camera that packs in 16 8K lens-sensor combos from RED for 6DoF captures. The camera, the companies say, is the first end-to-end solution for 3D 360 content.
360 cameras are now common, but the Manifold captures 6DoF, or six degrees of freedom, which means the viewer can move in six directions while viewing that footage and see a view similar to what you’d see if you moved that way in the real scene. The 6DoF allows what’s called volumetric data — while you can’t see the scene from the other side of the room, you can move around and see the depth and details from the people and objects in the scene.
Facebook and Red presented video from a single Manifold camera, which not only captures the immersive scene but makes objects and people in the scene pop through 6DoF. The video can be viewed from headsets, or on a traditional screen, the filmmakers can edit the video to introduce that 6DoF movement into the scene.
The camera is a mix of technology from Red and Facebook 360. Red’s 8K Helium camera sensors are paired with Schneider 8mm f/4 180 degree fisheye lenses, with 16 of those setups spaced around the spherical camera. The different positions of the lenses allow the Manifold to capture multiple camera angles. The camera also houses Red’s image processing technology, allowing for simultaneous 60fps 8K.
Where does Facebook come in? The Manifold uses Facebook’s depth estimation technology to build that 3D view that allows for that volumetric data.
The Manifold is designed as an end-to-end solution, which means the Manifold will also have post processing tools for filmmakers to fine-tune that project. The system will have post-processing tools from Adobe, Foundry and OTOY to finalize the project. Besides using larger, higher quality sensors and more of them, the camera also allows for using ND filters, compatibility that’s difficult to achieve with 16 wide angle lenses.
The first sample shared from the Manifold isn’t perfect — if you look closely, you can see one character’s face disappear in a stitch line and some white noise on a bench. But, the Manifold makes high-end 6DoF capture possible with one rig, which means, once launched, consumers could start seeing more Hollywood-level virtual reality content.
As just a first glimpse, the Manifold doesn’t yet have a price or release date — but with 16 Red cameras inside, the camera is probably going to require a Hollywood-level budget, too.