No, that’s not a disembodied robot head or one of those menacing floating imperial droids from Star Wars. That my friends is the 360 Round, the latest 360-degree VR camera from Samsung.
If you’re familiar with the Gear 360, you’ll have to admit that Samsung seems to have stepped up thier game just a wee bit this time. Apparently by sticking a boatload of cameras onto a Roomba chassis.
Everyone Loves the 3D
As you can tell by the pairs of double lenses, this camera not only takes spherical videos. It also takes 3D footage. In total there are 17 lenses. Sixteen of these are stereo pairs. The last lonesome lens is mounted on top for vertical image data.
Making a Splash
This is not a toy either. Samsung really seems to be positioning the Round as a professional VR footage tool. It’s IP65 water and dust resistant, so expect to see a few of these next time Burning Man stumbles by in a drug-fuelled haze.
It also has a fanless design, so even quiet scenes can be recorded without spoiling it with camera-generated sound.
We’ll Do It Live
According to the press release, the 360 Round can stream 4K video with spatial audio thanks to its 6 internal microphones. It can handle 4096×2048 at 30fps per eye. Whether in 2D or 3D.
The specs it needs to accomplish this are phenomenal. It has 10GB of LPDDR3 RAM and 40GB of eMMC storage internally. Users can add external storage. Options include up to a 256 GB SD card (UHS-II) or a 2 TB SSD. There’s also an ethernet port and USB-C connector.
The PC you need to do post-processing of the footage is also a bit of a monster. Samsung says you need at least an i7-6700K and a GTX 1080 with 16 GB of RAM. If you want live previews that’s upped to a 6950X, double the RAM and a 1080Ti.
A Bit Niche,Then
Clearly this is not aimed at the general consumer market. Samsung must be seeing a gap in the current options for professional VR video. It doesn’t really have a strong foothold in the pro camera arena. Products like the RED and names like Sony are entrenched there. However, as filmmakers start to warm to VR video the Korean giant will already have something on the shelf.
The 360 Round’s (approximate) $10 500 price tag might sound high to you and me, but in the professional camera world that’s chump change. If the Round is as good in practice as it is on paper, don’t be surprised if we suddenly see an influx of content made with the system.