When you think cutting-edge video, Facebook isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. But the ever-growing, ever-present social-media behemoth is trying its hardest to push into new territories when it comes to video. Facebook has gotten a lot of attention recently (for better or for worse) over its live-streaming video service. And the company isn’t stopping there.
At last month’s F8 developer conference, Facebook showed off its new Surround 360-degree camera, and announced that the software developer kit for the camera would be open source. Facebook is obviously hoping that the open-source approach will lead to quick adoption of the camera’s features, allowing Facebook app developers to implement the camera in intriguing ways.
The camera itself is round and is equipped with 24 individual cameras that cover the Surround 360-degree spectrum. The camera’s circular design will allow it to be mounted on a pole or stand that’ll keep it from taking video of itself (none of the cameras will be able to “see” each other), creating a pure 360-degree video experience. Presumably, Facebook apps will allow users to turn, pan, and tilt 360-degree videos, similar to how Facebook’s current panoramic photo feature works.
No word yet on when the Surround 360 camera will be available for purchase, or how much it’ll cost. But if the camera hits the market with a hefty price tag (which seems pretty likely), it’s doubtful 360-degree video will take off as fast as Facebook would like.
If you’ve ever wanted one of Facebook’s Surround 360 cameras – now is your chance. Chief Product Officer of Facebook, Chris Cox, announced recently that Facebook has open-sourced Facebook Surround 360, the world’s first 360 truly open source VR video capture system. Facebook released the blueprint, source code, design docs, assembly manual, and operational manuals on Github.
Facebook’s Surround 360 camera was first announced in April of 2016 at its F8 developers conference. It has 17 high-resolution cameras that are cased in a full aluminum body. Two aluminum plates sandwich the cameras to ensure stability.
Each of the cameras has 2048×2048 resolution and can capture up to 60 frames per second. The entire array is 41 megapixels and transmits up to 30 gigabits per second. Fourteen cameras are located around the outer ring of the Surround 360’s enclosure, plus one camera on top and two on the bottom. It is held up by a thick pole. When put together, the camera looks like a UFO from an old science fiction movie.
The open-source information released by Facebook is a set of instructions. You will have to come up with all the parts yourself. It has been said that the Surround 360 camera can be built for about $30,000 in parts. If you have the money to spend, and the technical expertise to piece the thing together, you can build your very own Surround 360.
It seems like only a matter of time until every possible mode of communication is built into Facebook’s ever-expanding platform. The monolithic social network’s latest frontier to conquer is native video. Last year. Facebook began allowing users to upload longer-form static videos. Now, the company is offering live-streaming video to all users. Time will tell where Facebook will stand against competitors like YouTube in the online video space. Still, more producers are trying out Facebook as a video platform, and that prompted Telestream to update its popular video production suite Wirecast to work with Facebook video.
Wirecast users who upgrade to the latest version will be able to take advantage of all of the application’s standard features with Facebook video, including using multiple cameras, text overlays, transitions, and more. There are some Facebook-specific features, too. Wirecast users will be able to log in and send a video stream to Facebook from directly within the Wirecast User Interface. Once a stream is started, users will be able to see the number of live viewers, the names of followers who are watching, and a real-time stream of comments throughout the live broadcast. Once the broadcast is complete, the video will stay on users’ timelines like any other video post.
Wirecast 6.0.7 is available now. Learn more about the software with the latest release notes or get general information on Wirecast here.