RED Cinema is building Facebook’s VR camera & the result may be what Lytro dreamed of creating


posted Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 10:16 AM EDT


Facebook and RED Cinema announced a partnership to create the world's first commercially available camera to capture scenes with six degrees of freedom (6DOF), the next generation of virtual reality. Facebook has had their feet in the door of this space for quite some time, especially after the acquisition of Oculus. Now they have a camera partner, and the result is that Facebook will have a complete production ecosystem, from capture to playback, if this works out.

The press release stated that "RED’s unparalleled image and pixel quality combined with Facebook depth estimation technology will deliver an all-in-one solution for the highest quality and most realistic 3D and 360° capture." In short, this would be the new standard for VR, a space that right now seems to have stagnated as no one has been able to jump the hurdles that make VR at present nothing more than a somewhat amusing toy.

Though there is nothing tangiable yet, the technicals of what is being built constitutes the following:

  • RED optimizes pixel count and caliber to deliver superior image quality for professional content creators.
  • By capturing 16 stops worth of light, RED meets the algorithmic requirements of depth estimation, as well as the artistic demands of a linear color workflow, to create quality 6DOF content.
  • Facebook’s depth estimation technology captures full 3D information about all objects in scenes which delivers a complete 3D reconstruction.
  • This is the first end-to-end solution with all elements of the workflow toolchain combined into one powerful package.
  • From capture with this new camera to depth estimation with Otoy and editing/post-processing with Adobe, Foundry, and Otoy, they're optimizing for premium 3D output that can be experienced on Facebook and in VR.
Original video frame.
Depth map, showing the camera's ability to discern different levels of depth in the frame.

I've been burned many times by promises of technology like this, but to this point it's mostly come from one company: Lytro. They've flamed out, thanks mainly to their "hype first, build later" mentality. That isn't to say that Facebook and RED haven't been hype machines for tech we have yet to see either, but they at least are successful companies. I don't trust either of them, but if you're going to get exicted about this kind of technology, it's far more likely to come out of this partnership than from anyone else who has tried it. 

For more information, read the blog post over at Oculus