A Facebook 360 and Red Digital Cinema collaboration that began in May 2017 has finally produced fruit. The Manifold camera is pitched as the "first studio-ready camera system for immersive 6DoF storytelling." The ball-shaped device is packed with 8K cameras covering multiple angles, meaning that wearers of compatible VR headsets like the Oculus Quest will be able to not only look around a scene, but also move around within it.
"Picture standing inside of a Hollywood blockbuster instead of simply watching," said the collaboration in a press release. "It's a common scenario in science fiction – and for good reason – it sounds fantastical. Manifold will make this dreamlike concept a genuine reality, both for content creators and for their audiences. It took years of prototyping and tight collaboration, but results so far point to a revolutionary camera built for a single purpose: to deliver next-generation stories."
The Manifold camera features 16 of Red's Helium 8K image sensors topped by 180° Schneider 8 mm/F4.0 lenses, which allow the device to record all-around video covering multiple camera angles, while also capturing depth information. All of the cameras can grab 8K footage at 60 frames per second simultaneously.
"Manifold captures multiple camera angles simultaneously from within a given volume, enabling infinite perspectives to be generated from any direction within a field of view," the press release explained. Post processing comes courtesy of tools from partners Adobe, Foundry and OTOY, though an SDK is also available to enable third party support.
The device's control unit can be up to 100 meters (330 ft) away from the Manifold head, connected by a single power, control and data cable. The camera array can be controlled via a web browser interface running on a user's device of choice. Five SDI outputs cater for footage monitoring, or external stitch processing, and the unit is compatible with third party storage devices.
Pricing and availability are yet to be announced, though with all that impressive hardware, it's a pretty safe bet that the Manifold will be a very expensive piece of kit indeed.
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