The Nokia OZO camera is what we've all been waiting for, says REWIND:VR's Sol Rogers
While the technology for consuming VR has been developing in leaps and bounds, live video and image content capture solutions have been slow to catch up. That seamless video experience that offers the “I feel like I am really there” sensation has been difficult to achieve, until now. Finally we’re starting to see 360° camera technology that is able to create professional level VR content.
The Nokia OZO is the world’s first purpose-built professional Virtual Reality camera, capable of capturing 360° spherical video and surround sound. The fully wireless system allows for real-time monitoring and rapid playback of footage, without having to digitally stitch images together first. This gives instant feedback to directors, improving both the quality and efficiency of VR content production.
The OZO looks pretty cool too! It’s a spherical rig, about the size of a human head, weighing roughly six kilos (we’ve actually managed to drone mount it!) with eight optical image sensors spaced roughly an eye width apart. Audio is captured in three dimensions by eight microphones embedded in the camera. The result is audio that helps to locate you in space - if you hear someone speaking behind you, look behind you and you'll see the person.
Up until this point, immersive content studios like REWIND have had to rely on custom-built filming rigs, often using off-the-shelf cameras such as Go-Pros. There simply wasn’t any other option or solution for shooting in 360°. While these rigs could often be tailored specifically to the job at hand, they did come with their own list of issues: unreliability, compatibility issues, a lack of durability and to top it all off they were often difficult to work with. While still not a perfect solution, the OZO certainly eliminates some of the major problems we’ve encountered so far when creating 360° immersive content.
Since becoming an official Nokia OZO filming partner, REWIND has been pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with this professional immersive filming solution. Here are some of the things we’ve learnt:
One press of a button is all you need
One of the challenges of using rigs made up of individual systems such as Go-Pros is that you’re working with six different cameras. You have to start each one individually, and you have no way of easily knowing if all six have worked correctly until after the shoot, which could end up being expensive and time consuming, not to mention frustrating, if things do go wrong. OZO eliminates this issue by having one single button for activation, which also means that costly post-production techniques to sync the individual captured video feeds is not necessary.
Captured footage is output to one file
Another potential issue with using individual cameras is that you then have to deal with multiple output files, which can cause problems in post-production. The OZO pulls all recorded data into a single file, making it much more manageable to work with.
Robust, with high quality performance
The OZO’s other main advantage over custom built rigs is that it’s durable and reliable. It also captures footage at a high bitrate and cinematic quality that other systems can struggle with, which makes it easier to work with in post-production and gives a more immersive final experience.
Maintenance and upkeep while on shoots is simple
Because of the OZO’s compact design and single camera set-up, changing and maintaining both batteries and memory modules is a lot faster and more professional than when dealing with a rig of multiple cameras.
The OZO is a huge leap forward for VR and 360° immersive video production. Up until now there has been no viable, complete solution for capturing footage: content creators have been using custom rigs and creating Frankenstein-esque camera setups, which each come with their own set of problems. OZO succeeds in creating a streamlined and easy to use system which will help to both reduce post-production time and increase the overall quality of content produced.