New technology lets you change camera position after capture, could revolutionize broadcasting and movies

by Felix Esser

posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM EST

When the DVD was first introduced, one of the marketing claims was that the new standard would make it possible to change the camera perspective while watching, for example in recordings of concerts or the like. Today, as good as no DVD incorporates that feature, but the idea to be able to freely change camera perspective while watching certain kinds of events is enticing. Imagine, for example, that while watching a match of your favorite sports team, you could actually change your perspective to get a better view of the game. Or halt the action completely to take a Matrix-like bullet-time tour around your favorite player.

Think that's just science-fiction talk? Think again, because it might soon become a reality in broadcasting, and potentially also in movies and other kinds of recorded video. A company called Replay Technologies has developed a technique to move a 'virtual' camera around a scene, even to positions where in reality there is no camera. Their 'freeD' technology is based on software algorithms that extrapolate 3D information out of multiple video feeds and create a virtual 3D model that can be freely navigated. And they're not just talking big. Below is a video that demonstrates what is possible with their technology, at the example of a tennis match.

Now, the possibilities with this technology are practically endless. Sports is one scenario where freeD could come in handy, but just imagine what this could mean for the way we watch movies. Quite possibly, in the future we won't be restricted to viewing the image crop that camera operator and producer deemed ideal for presenting the scene. With freeD, we will be able to freely move within the scenes of a movie, and decide for ourselves from which perspective we'd like to watch. From a third-person perspective? Through the eyes of the main character's? From a birds-eye view? The limit would only be the number of cameras used to record the scene, and at what positions they are located.

Until this is possible, there's a lot to do still. For example, when you look at how the images changes when the camera position moves in the video above, you'll notice that so far Replay Technologies' algorithms aren't capable of creating an actual life-like image. There are lots of artifacts, and the whole scene looks more like a computer simulation than real video footage. But give them another couple of years, and the technology could be refined to the point where it'll find widespread adaption. And on that day, the way we perceive broadcasts and movies will change entirely

(via RedShark News)