Imagine watching a film where you can look anywhere in a full 360-degree sphere of vision. Theatre is as close as we get to that as we're expected to follow the action as it moves about the stage and sometimes the building. How that will work for a film is hard to imagine. But it's coming.
The Panopticam camera, made by Figure Digital, aims to bring the world of film and virtual reality together. The unit, that looks like a bot from Star Wars, is comprised of 35 high definition cameras mounted into a 3D printed spherical case. The Pantopticam will come with software that stitches the captured videos together for playback on a headset like Oculus Rift or Sony's Morpheus.
This isn't the first time this idea has been used. According to Real Screen, David Attenborough is currently shooting a documentary, Conquest of the Skies, using a rig of eight cameras that will film in 360-degrees. That show will be released for the Oculus Rift.
Another competitor to the Pantopticam is Jaunt. This company has raised $7 million to produce VR films using its camera setup that looks very similar to the Pantopticam.
Money appears to be there, but will these films catch on? 3D glasses have proven to be too much for most to bother with. A bulky headset for anyone other than gamers might not sound too attractive. Especially as a means to try and watch something that you might end up missing while looking at the wrong part of the "screen". That said this is a burgeoning technology that could be slimmed and improved for an exciting new way to watch films in the very near future.
The Panopticam is still in development with no release date announced yet.