Two years after unveiling the Jump platform, Google is now expanding its hardware efforts with the release of the next-gen 360 VR Camera setup — YI HALO. Announced at the NAB conference in Las Vegas, this new camera has been designed by Chinese Go Pro-competitor Yi Technologies. It is the company’s first crack at VR and 360 cameras and shooting space.
The Xiaomi-backed camera company has been making waves in the action camera industry, courtesy of its affordable and consumer-friendly products. The YI Halo, developed in partnership with Google, has 17 cameras mounted into the sleek and lightweight rig. The said 4K Camera Setup is the company’s first crack at the VR and 360 cameras, where it seems to have the sweet spot.
This camera setup is capable of shooting 8K stereoscopic video at 30 frames per second (fps) or 5.8K at 60 frames per second. It has been designed to generate 8K x 8K stereoscopic VR content, as well as 6K x 6K content. The filmmakers will be provided with a host of other features and options such as ISO, white balance and flat color mode. Talking about this camera in an official statement, Sean Da, CEO of Yi Technology said,
Virtual reality provides incredible new opportunities for creators. But it also poses a whole new level of challenges. To truly meet the promise of VR, the image quality, capture and stitching needs to match the immersive experience.
To be truly active, you have to be able to shoot when and however you want, from many points of view, and without worrying about losing power; and you have to know it will just work, in your control, now and in the future.
That is why we spent so many personal hours researching, perfecting and stress-testing the Yi Halo. And why we are so excited to see what today’s amazing creators will do with what is now the most advanced VR system out there.
While the previous Go Pro Odessey was Google’s first attempt at building a makeshift VR camera setup, but the YI Halo was designed keeping in mind the needs of a filmmaker. The former included just 16 cameras, each next to one another in a circular body. But, the latter now includes an extra 17th 4K camera that is looking straight up. This enables the Yi Halo to also capture the sky (or the ceiling), for which filmmakers struggle when stitching the images together. Yi Technology has achieved another first with the inclusion of this camera in the rig.
The whole rig weighs just under eight pounds and provides filmmakers the flexibility needed while shooting even a rather tricky shot. This has been coupled with a massive battery which lasts for 100 minutes of continuous shooting on a single charge, where the lenses provide you with an offset of actual eyes. This enables the stitching software (we’ll talk about in a moment) to paint more realistic, 3D scenery using the captured video.
It is also necessary to know that the Yi Halo is a semi-pro and pro-level camera setup and is being touted as the next generation Jump camera. With regards to the same, the camera rig brings along a small touchscreen, which has been included in the base of the camera setup. It will give you instant access to battery life, SD card status, and other options. But, the Yi Halo also comes bundled with its very own Android app that can be used as a remote or to view live previews. This $16,999 camera rig has also gone through 100,000 hours of stress tests to even test the durability.
Further, those unaware of the Jump software platform, its primary objective is to remove some of the biggest barriers involved in the production of content. Google ensures that filmmakers are provided with blueprints for the camera setup (or the camera setup itself) along with free, unlimited server space for stitching all the high-resolution imagery together. It was aimed to promote content on its own VR platform, Daydream, which it debuted just last year.
As for the Jump software, which brings the 360 VR videos to life, is the core behind the new Yi Halo camera. It amalgamates Google’s computer vision and cloud infrastructure technology to take inputs from seventeen (17) different 4K action cameras. This results in a seamless, stitched together 360-degree video in just a few hours — a process automated by the Mountain View-based tech giant.
Filmmakers’ visions come together via the Jump Assembler, which ensures seamless, artifact-free stitches that are ready in a few short hours. The YI HALO camera has been built to natively work with the Assembler.
Starting today, the Yi Halo will be made available to creators and filmmakers through Google’s limited access Jump Start program. It will provide them free access to both a Jump camera, now the new Yi Halo and unlimited use of the Jump Assembler, which works in the cloud, for their VR film. Google is aiming to reach over 100 creators, who have until 22nd May to apply for being selected as a part of the program. The 17-camera monster rig will officially go on sale for everyone in the coming summer season.