Boxfish reels in a high res, 360-degree underwater video camera
The weird world under the waves is a perfect place for 360-degree video. To help catch it all, Boxfish Research has unveiled a new underwater camera for filmmakers and researchers, designed to shoot in every direction in (close to) 5K resolution while also recording data on depth, water temperature and camera orientation.
The eyes of the Boxfish 360 are three large cameras with Micro Four Thirds sensors, which the company says gives the system a sensor area almost five times that of a six-action-camera rig. Each lens can cover 185 degrees for a total spherical resolution of 5,040 x 2,520 (just shy of the standard 5,120 x 2,880 of 5K) at 24, 25 or 29.97 frames per second, and shoot 360-degree stills at 12.1 MP. The result, according to Boxfish, is a sharper image with better color.
The rig is packed into an anodized aluminum housing that measures 300 x 165 mm (11.8 x 6.5 in), weighs 6 kg (13.2 lb) and can dive to a depth of 300 m (984 ft). The battery might only last 90 minutes, but by then, the 64 GB Micro SD card would be filling up, and the company says that swapping both of them is a breeze.
"The beauty of the Boxfish 360 is that the cameras stay inside the waterproof housing at all times, and a single hatch provides tool-less access to the recorded files and for charging," says Axel Busch, co-founder of Boxfish Research. "It only takes a minute to swap batteries and cards. You are back in the water faster and the production workflow is much more streamlined."
Back on dry land, getting the footage off the rig and into a workable form is also easier. Fewer cameras also means fewer seams, and because they're all frame-synced, the video should stitch together into a sphere much faster.
The Boxfish 360 can also record data on the depth of the dive, the water's temperature, and the orientation of the camera. It's up to individual teams what that information is used for, but it could help filmmakers keep track of how far down a point of interest is, or researchers compare how warming water might affect the health of a reef.
Along with the rig itself, the Boxfish 360 comes with six 64 GB micro SD cards, a neoprene storage bag, charger cable, and a few other little tools and replacement parts.
The Boxfish 360 is not for amateur holiday snaps: at a hefty price of US$14,990 it's restricted to the realm of professional videographers and research institutes, with orders available for the next batch due to ship mid-May. The rest of us can enjoy the fruits of the labor in the demo video below.
Source: Boxfish Research