Yes, you've read that correctly. Nokia, the former maker of my favorite cell phone in which I could play "Snake" during high school math class, has entered the hot new virtual reality camera market. A lot of the camera details are scarce, such as pricing and when it will ship to the consumer market, but there are some key functions I am very intrigued by. As Fstopper's resident virtual reality filmmaker, I am hesitantly optimistic. Read below to learn why.
So far, here are the camera specs we currently know:
- It has 8 lenses with global synchronized shutters. This is awesome because with all of these companies out there pushing GoPro based 360 camera systems (including GoPro and Google), global sync is a huge issue. It's essentially impossible to activate all GoPro's at once, even if you do use audio or visual slates, which makes post-production annoying. I've also noticed when filming aggressive action scenes with GoPro systems, there are often timing and sync irregularities that become painfully obvious in some of the cameras. Thus, a turn-key 8 camera rig with sync'd shutters is an exciting prospect because that could potentially save hours off of the post-production process for VR filmmakers.
- 8 Integrated microphones that apparently record sound spatially. For example, if a person is talking to the camera's right, you'll hear it on the right, and if you turn your head while viewing it on a VR headset so that the person talking is on your left...you'll hear them on your left. You get the idea. The problem? Not every 360 player allows for spatial audio playback, but some do, such as Samsung's own MILK VR app. I'm sure more will allow spatial audio playback in the future.
- 3D stereoscopic video recording - There's 2d virtual reality / 360 videos, and then there's 3d or stereoscopic 360 videos. Stereoscopic is a hot catchphrase in the VR industry right now, but very rarely have I seen it executed effectively. First, like with spatial audio, only a few apps/platforms can actually play stereoscopic footage. Sure, you can play it on your own computer on your own oculus rig, but what about apps in which we share content with the public? Again, there are limited options, but more will be coming soon.
Also, I have rarely seen stereo footage of action scenes/movement where there isn't huge stitching or parallax issues. I won't bore you with details, but it has to do with camera positioning and distance to subject while also filming concurrently in all directions. Sure, there's ways to shoot with a 3D camera a film in quadrants (essentially filming 1 scene 4 or more times from different camera positions). Some VR camera makers have boasted that they have solved stereoscopic filming issues, but few have effectively delivered on this promise. I hope Jaunt and Nokia actually did a good job developing a 3D system that works properly for all/most filming scenarios, not just stationary ones where subjects have to be at least 5 or more feet away.
- Immediate low resolution stitched video review. That means you can reviewed stitched footage almost immediately after filming a scene rather than having to import multiple cameras into a computer and stitch everything, thus losing hours (and money) on set trying to review and confirm footage. This is a CRUCIAL function I am excited to see. "Software built for OZO enables real-time 3D viewing, with an innovative playback solution that removes the need to pre-assemble a panoramic image - a time-consuming process with solutions currently in the marketplace"
- It's 6 pounds, which means for a VR rig, it's not truly light enough to comfortably put on top of a helmet without causing discomfort for capturing action (just my humble opinion), but it is not so heavy that it will cause issues in other mounting scenarios.
- It ships 4th quarter of 2015
- Final specs and price TBD. They are up against a comparably-equipped GoPro-based systems and trying to appeal to the advanced amateur to pro market, I would bet it will be around $7500-10,000. Although, if they were smart about it, they would keep it to $3-5k...but hey, I've been wrong before!
Nokia's press release:
28 July 2015
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Nokia today announced OZO, the first commercially available virtual reality (VR) camera designed and built for professional content creators and the first in a planned portfolio of digital media solutions from Nokia Technologies, the company's advanced technology and licensing business.
"We're thrilled to introduce OZO to the content creation world, and to define a completely new category of virtual reality capture and playback solutions," said Ramzi Haidamus, president of Nokia Technologies. "OZO aims to advance the next wave of innovation in VR by putting powerful tools in the hands of professionals who will create amazing experiences for people around the world. We expect that virtual reality experiences will soon radically enhance the way people communicate and connect to stories, entertainment, world events and each other. With OZO, we plan to be at the heart of this new world."
Conceived at the company's R&D facilities in Tampere, Finland, OZO made its first appearance at an industry event in Los Angeles attended by representatives from major studios, production houses and media and technology companies. Nokia will conduct final testing and refinements to OZO in partnership with industry professionals, in advance of the product's commercial release. Final pricing and full technical specifications will be announced at a future date, with shipments anticipated in Q4 2015. OZO will be manufactured in Finland.
OZO captures stereoscopic 3D video through eight (8) synchronized global shutter sensors and spatial audio through eight (8) integrated microphones. Software built for OZO enables real-time 3D viewing, with an innovative playback solution that removes the need to pre-assemble a panoramic image - a time-consuming process with solutions currently in the marketplace.
OZO's filmed content can be published for commercially available VR viewing hardware such as head mounted displays (HMDs), with immersive, full 360-degree imaging and spatially accurate original sound. OZO also integrates into existing professional workflows and works with third-party tools, dramatically simplifying content production at all stages.
Also today, Palo Alto-based VR production company Jaunt Inc. announced a commitment to support OZO, both by offering the camera for use in Jaunt Studios and by supporting content produced with OZO through its post-production services. Jaunt is the leading developer of the hardware, software, tools, and applications to enable the creation of cinematic VR. Through its studio arm, Jaunt Studios, the company works with leading creatives - from brands to artists to filmmakers - to create cutting-edge content.
"Our mission has always been to provide filmmakers with tools and techniques that fuel their creative process, unlocking the true potential of their vision." said Cliff Plumer, President of Jaunt Studios. "Our partnership with Nokia is another big step for us to continue to provide our partners with the most cutting-edge technology to further cater to their creative needs. Jaunt will continue to work with its own line of cameras, as well as the best-of-breed that others have to offer, to ensure content creators have access to the best tool for the job."
As an end-to-end solution, OZO aims to set a new standard as the preferred method for professional capture, editing and playback of cinematic VR content.
More information is available at ozo.nokia.com.